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The Pro Football Notebook


November 22, 2010 7:32 AM

Can San Diego Keep Surging?

PhilipRivers.jpgMonday Night Football keeps with its theme of division rivalries. After three weeks of going through the AFC South (Houston-Indy), AFC North (Pittsburgh-Cincinnati) and NFC East (Philadelphia-Washington), it's now the AFC West's turn to get the game's biggest stage. San Diego hosts Denver with the Chargers looking to mount another late-season push.

The Chargers have won their last two games against Tennessee and Houston to move to 4-5 and get to within a game of first place. Philip Rivers would be my choice for MVP if the season ended today, as he's put up huge numbers in the passing game in spite of injuries in the running game and an oft-shaky defense creating an environment where everyone knows he has to throw. The Bronco defense has been a sieve all year long, but they are starting to get people healthy. However, even healthy Denver defenses haven't had success against the Bolts offense in recent years and corner Andre Goodman is not a part of the team's return to good health. Playing at home, Rivers will still get his numbers. This makes Denver's ability to run the ball all the more important. Kyle Orton has played superbly at quarterback for Josh McDaniel's team, but going on the road, it's too much to ask for him to win another shootout, especially with Shaun Phillips pressuring the edge. The Broncos running game suddenly resurfaced last week in a rout of Kansas City, and they really need Knowshon Moreno to come up with another good game and give them some offensive balance. Overall, it's too much to ask of Denver on the road, and San Diego rolls to a 45-24 win.

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San Diego came into yesterday trailing both Oakland and Kansas City by one game. They got halfway home to catching up, as the Raiders were blasted in Pittsburgh, losing 35-3. The score accurately describes how the game was played, as Oakland couldn't get Darren McFadden going on the ground and played both Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradowski at quarterback. Nothing worked and they fell to 5-5.

Kansas City didn't have the toughest opponent in Arizona, but I was very impressed with the way they took apart the Cardinals 31-13. The Chiefs had the earmarks of a team spinning out of control, having lost four of six after a 3-0 start. They played mistake-free efficient football and let Arizona beat themselves with 11 penalties. Dwayne Bowe's been a good receiving threat as he and Matt Cassell are working together to prevent defenses from teeing off on their strong running game. I don't think what KC is doing is enough to hold off San Diego if they Bolts really have their game together, but a tip of the hat to them for the mental focus and resilience to win this game going away. And doubters or not, they're in sole possession of first with six games to go.

Image from mkrob.com

Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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