It is still early in the season, but the Denver Broncos really don't want to face a two-game hole in the AFC West. If they lose to the San Diego Chargers on Monday night, though, that is exactly what they'll be facing. Sitting at 2-3, the Broncos take on the 3-2 Chargers with the chance to move into a tie atop the division, but also to leave themselves a steep hill to climb after just six weeks.
After a rough outing against Atlanta, Peyton Manning has settled down and played like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He has thrown for eight touchdowns in his last three games and has more than 1,000 yards through the air, so at this point, it is tough to argue that his neck injury has slowed him down much, but as it turns out, that hasn't helped his team much.
Since Manning has kicked his game into gear, the Broncos have lost two of three – their only win coming over lowly Oakland. To be fair, the losses have come against undefeated Houston and at New England, but losses are losses and Denver has taken their fair share so far.
But while the focus will be on Manning, because he is Peyton Manning, the Broncos' defense is what needs to step up. They were really impressive down the stretch last season, but are back to being average so far this year, and poor against the run.
A two-game deficit is hardly impossible to overcome, especially after six weeks, but it is not ideal. It is asking far more than the Broncos want this early in the season, especially considering Manning has played well enough to get more wins. But the defense needs to find last season's form. If they do, they could be top of the division, not figuring out how to make up two games.
Game Date/Time: Monday, Oct. 15; 6:30 p.m. MT
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.