Denver-San Diego rivalry hits a new level

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

This subject came up on our AFC West chat Wednesday and it got me thinking: The Denver Broncos-San Diego Chargers rivalry has a chance to be one of the NFL's most heated rivalries for the next several years.

The rivalry, already hot, has reached the next level in 2008.

The AFC West boasts several rivalries and they are all strong but because Oakland and Kansas City are both down a tad these days, the rivalries involving those teams aren't as strong as they could be.

But the Broncos-Chargers rivalry is red hot thanks to the events of the 2008 season.

It took a turn in Week 2 when Denver beat San Diego 39-38. The victory, of course, was spurred by an officiating mistake late in the game.

Now, the two teams will meet in San Diego in a winner-takes-the-division game Sunday night. It's the first time in 20 years that an NFL division will be decided in a head-to-head game in the final week of the season.

Can this rivalry get any hotter?

Fans are at each other's throats and even the two team's quarterbacks are in on it. Denver quarterback Jay Cutler and San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers had an on-field beef in San Diego last Christmas Eve and Cutler has expressed his distaste for Rivers on a few occasions this year.

Yes, there is no need to bolster the interest in this game. This AFC West rivalry is real. And it's only getting bigger.