The Denver Broncos look to push their way into the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots next Sunday. But first, the Broncos have a score to settle with the San Diego Chargers in today's game.
If the the top-seeded Denver Broncos get past the San Diego Chargers, who came into the AFC playoffs seeded sixth and lowest, they will move on to face Tom Brady and the surprising Patriots in Denver on January 19.
But the Chargers slapped the Broncos with their only home defeat of the 2013 season, and only their third loss all year, edging them by a touchdown 27-20 on December 12.
Strangely enough, if the Chargers hand the Broncos another defeat, today's game could be the last one in the NFL for Denver Broncos future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, though he set league records for single season touchdowns and passing yards, according to ESPN.
In March, Manning will undergo a contractually required physical exam to check the status of his injured neck. The injury caused the 1998 overall number one draft pick to miss the entire 2011 season and in part led to the Indianapolis Colts, the only NFL team Manning ever played for, to let him go, drafting highly touted Andrew Luck out of Stanford to replace him.
Manning then signed with the Denver Broncos.
But if his March physical shows a chance that the neck could be injured again, Manning has said that he will strongly consider leaving the Denver Broncos and retiring from the NFL.
Today, however, Manning's only worry is to prove the Denver Broncos' earlier loss to the Chargers was just a fluke. The Chargers defense held Manning to a 92.4 passing rating in that game, his worst performance of a season in which he put up a stellar average rating of 115.1, Fox Sports recounts.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has historically been at his best when facing the Denver Broncos on the road. Rivers is 6-2 against the Broncos in Denver overall in his career.
"It's a great place to play and it's a tough place to play," said Rivers, quoted by Denver's Channel 9 News. "It's an awesome place to play. It's as first class as it comes from the atmosphere in the stadium and the fans and the whole deal."
But it could be a tough day for both quarterbacks. The game kicks off at 2:40 local time in Denver — 4:40 on the east coast; CBS has TV coverage — while swirling winds of 15 to 25 mph are in the forecast, with some gusts hitting 35 mph.
"Any time you get a condition of wind, that's when I see that it's hard for the passing," said Denver Broncos Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase. "You don't know what's going to happen."