4:25 PM ET, November 10, 2013
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
San Diego coach Mike McCoy will get to see several familiar faces when Denver visits the Chargers on Sunday.
The former Broncos offensive coordinator, however, won't see his old boss.
With John Fox recovering from heart surgery, Denver looks to keep rolling with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio at the helm against a Chargers team trying to regroup from a discouraging loss.
Fox was hospitalized last Saturday after feeling light-headed while playing golf during the Broncos' bye week. Two days later, he had his aortic valve replaced, an open-chest procedure which will likely cause him to miss several weeks.
"We all wish him a speedy recovery," Del Rio said. "The best way that we could honor him is to go out and play great football."
The Broncos (7-1) played plenty of great football over the first half of the season.
Denver is averaging an NFL-best 42.9 points -- 12.9 better than No. 2 Chicago -- and is on pace to shatter the NFL record of 589 points (2007 Patriots). Not surprisingly, Peyton Manning is also putting up eye-popping numbers. His 2,919 yards and 29 touchdown passes are on pace to break the current records of 5,476 yards (Drew Brees, 2011) and 50 TDs (Tom Brady, 2007).
Wes Welker leads Denver with 50 catches and nine touchdowns, Demaryius Thomas has a team-best 685 receiving yards followed by Eric Decker with 669, and tight end Julius Thomas has eight TD receptions.
"I'm not going to say it's as easy as it looks," Demaryius Thomas said. "The main part is, everyone needs to be on the same page. You've got to have everyone on the field knowing what they're doing all the time."
Having a veteran like Manning running the offense should certainly help the Broncos with Fox recovering, and the players aren't expecting anything to change with Del Rio in charge.
"Nothing changes," wide receiver Andre Caldwell said. "It's just a different co-pilot. It's just a different guy saying the same words."
Del Rio is well-versed with the responsibilities of a head coach after spending nearly nine seasons in that role in Jacksonville before joining Fox's staff last year.
"This is coach Fox's team," Del Rio said. "I'm merely the person that's able to keep it running right now while he's healing."
Keeping the team running efficiently could be difficult, as Del Rio inherits a team opening a difficult stretch. The Broncos, who haven't played since a 45-21 win over Washington on Oct. 27, have two matchups with undefeated Kansas City around a road game against AFC East-leading New England in the coming three weeks.
Denver first turns its attention to a San Diego team eager to get back on the field after last Sunday's 30-24 overtime loss at Washington.
The Chargers (4-4) had a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 21 seconds to go in regulation, but after an unsuccessful run and two incomplete passes, they had to settle for a game-tying field goal. They never got the ball again as the Redskins scored a touchdown on the first possession in overtime.
"Every loss is hard to get over. It feels like you die," center Nick Hardwick told the Chargers' official website. "But we have to get over it quickly. We need to get a good week of work in and get ready to play Denver and play our best game of football to date."
McCoy, in his first season running the Chargers after four years in Denver, faced plenty of scrutiny for the questionable play calls by offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt in the waning moments against Washington.
"I'm not questioning what we did. We're not questioning that," McCoy said. "This is a team game. It's the San Diego Chargers' organization. And I'm not questioning any of the calls. We did what we thought was best to win the football game and we're moving on."
Aside from failing to get in the end zone from the 1-yard line, there were many reasons why San Diego lost. The Chargers allowed the Redskins to convert 12 of 17 third-down attempts and rack up 500 yards of offense, bad signs with Manning coming to town.
The Broncos won both meetings with the Chargers last season, and Manning had three touchdowns passes in each. In Denver's last trip to San Diego, Manning rallied the Broncos from a 24-0 halftime deficit for a 35-24 victory.
McCoy's coaching stock rose after he found ways to win with Tim Tebow in 2011 and then reworked the offense for Manning last season.
He has now helped revive Philip Rivers' career.
Rivers is completing an NFL-best 72.2 percent of his passes, just ahead of Manning's mark of 71.2, and his 106.5 passer rating is third-best in the league.
He'll be going up against a defense that is allowing an average of 27.3 points but is tied for the league lead with 13 interceptions. Rivers threw six picks in the two games against Denver in 2012.
It might help Rivers if San Diego's offense shows better balance. He threw 46 passes last week while the Chargers had a season-low 16 rushing attempts for 69 yards despite the game being close throughout. Ryan Mathews finished with 34 yards on seven carries after consecutive 100-yard games -- both victories -- during which he totaled 43 of San Diego's 77 rushes.
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|Avg Points Allowed||26.4||22.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DEN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DEN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Denver leads 14-13|
|Nov 18, 2012||DEN 30, SD 23|
|Oct 15, 2012||DEN 35, @SD 24|
|Nov 27, 2011||DEN 16, @SD 13|
|Oct 9, 2011||DEN 24, SD 29|
|Jan 2, 2011||DEN 28, SD 33|
|Nov 22, 2010||DEN 14, @SD 35|
|Nov 22, 2009||DEN 3, SD 32|
|Oct 19, 2009||DEN 34, @SD 23|
|Dec 28, 2008||DEN 21, @SD 52|
|Sep 14, 2008||DEN 39, SD 38|
|Dec 24, 2007||DEN 3, @SD 23|
|Oct 7, 2007||DEN 3, SD 41|
|Dec 10, 2006||DEN 20, @SD 48|
|Nov 19, 2006||DEN 27, SD 35|
|Dec 31, 2005||DEN 23, @SD 7|
|Sep 18, 2005||DEN 20, SD 17|
|Dec 5, 2004||DEN 17, @SD 20|
|Sep 26, 2004||DEN 23, SD 13|
|Nov 16, 2003||DEN 37, SD 8|
|Sep 14, 2003||DEN 37, @SD 13|
|Dec 1, 2002||DEN 27, @SD 30|
|Oct 6, 2002||DEN 26, SD 9|
|Nov 11, 2001||DEN 26, SD 16|
|Oct 21, 2001||DEN 10, @SD 27|
Von Miller has been back for two games, but his impact has already been seen on the Broncos' pass defense.[+]
Broncos Defense This Season - Von Miller On/Off Field
Peyton Manning has completed 58.1 percent of his passes to Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker the Broncos' last two games. Manning completed 73.6 percent of his passes to the three the Broncos' first six games.[+]
Peyton Manning was 7-of-10 targeting Demaryius Thomas Sunday for 108 yards and three touchdowns. Defenses had limited Thomas well in the Broncos' previous two games.[+]
Peyton Manning has 33 passing touchdowns through nine games this season, tying Tom Brady for the most in NFL history.[+]
Peyton Manning's 33 passing touchdowns through nine games matches the most by any quarterback through 9 games in a single season in NFL history, tied with Tom Brady in 2007. That season Brady finished with an NFL-record 50 touchdown passes.[+]
Passing Through First 9 Games of Season
Peyton Manning entered Week 10 ranked in the top five in completion percentage, yards per attempt and touchdowns off play action this season. Manning was able to improve on his high play-action standard, going 9-of-9 for 187 yards and three touchdowns. - 143 of Manning's 187 yards off play action Sunday were gained after the catch, a season high for Manning and the Broncos. Manning's average pass on play action traveled 6 yards shorter Sunday (4.9 yards downfield) compared to the rest of the season.[+]
Peyton Manning Play-Action Passing Sunday
Peyton Manning completed 9-of-9 play-action passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the NFL with 1,317 passing yards (40.5% of total) on play action this season, 431 more yards than the next closest passer (Tom Brady). * Nick Foles was 9-of-14 for 172 yards and three touchdowns using play action Sunday, and now has six touchdowns in the last two games on those plays (had three in his first 12 games).[+]
ESPN Stats & Information