By Dave Thomas

When they met on a Monday night in San Diego last month, the Chargers and Denver Broncos essentially played two different games.

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 09:  Defensive end Elvis Dumervil #92 of the Denver Broncos fights against the block of offensive tackle Jeromey Clary #66 of the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Chargers defeated the Broncos 29-24.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

(Credit Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

For the first 30 minutes of action, Peyton Manning and Co. essentially could do no right, as the Chargers bolted to a 24-0 halftime lead. While knowing their AFC West rivals would come at them in the second half, the Bolts could have never predicted what would happen over the next 30 minutes of play.

Down 24-0 coming out of the locker room, the Broncos would go on to post 35 unanswered points, registering a 35-24 victory over a shocked San Diego crowd, not to mention a decent number of Bronco fans who invaded the ‘Q’ that night.

So, as the two get set to meet Sunday afternoon in the Mile High City, essentially the season is on the line for the Chargers, who limp into Denver losers of four of their last five games.

While San Diego does have at least one factor in its favor, the fact that it has won five of its last six trips to Denver, the confidence level for the two teams has to be at opposite ends of the spectrum right now.

San Diego, a team that has played inconsistent football over the last month especially, is just trying to stop the bleeding and avoid being altogether eliminated for AFC playoff contention over the next few weeks.

Denver (6-3), meantime, is rolling and looking to not get too high with over a month of action remaining before the postseason kicks in.

Whatever happens this Sunday in the Rocky Mountains, one thing for sure is that the Chargers will have had to left everything on the field if they expect to have a good chance of leaving Denver with a win, a victory that would close Denver’s lead in the AFC West to a mere game with six to go.

So, as the Chargers prepare for Sunday’s big division tilt, they go into battle not sure if all hands will be available.

Mathews, Weddle, Bigby Among Those Chargers Will Need Big Games From

As of Friday’s injury report, the Chargers noted several players who were questionable 48 hours before the big game.

Starting running back Ryan Mathews did see practice time at week’s end, having suffered a neck injury in a collision with Tampa Bay linebacker Quincy Black (out for the season) during last weekend’s loss. Meantime, backup tight end Dante Rosario is bothered by a hamstring injury, so he too remains a question mark for Sunday.

In the event Mathews can’t go, look for Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle to get more playing time, something Charger fans may not be all that opposed to given the inconsistent play of Mathews. That being said, Mathews has had some of his better games in his three-year NFL career against the Broncos.

San Diego also reported that defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (knee) is out for Sunday’s game, while offensive tackle Jared Gaither (groin), who has been unable to stay healthy all season, is listed as doubtful.

Lastly, a host of players are listed as probable, including linebackers Antwan Barnes (hamstring) and Melvin Ingram (knee), safeties Eric Weddle (illness) and Atari Bigby (quadricep), and punter Mike Scifres (ankle).

Scifres was injured during a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown in the Tampa loss, though he did return to action in that game.

Given the importance of this game versus the Broncos, look for every able Charger to give it their best, albeit it may be too late in the season for that.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Chargers news, see CBS Sports Los Angeles.

Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on

Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on


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