Morning Links: From contender to pretender

SAN DIEGO -- Good Morning. ESPN’s John Clayton writes that the Chargers (4-5) might be pretenders when it comes to the 2013 playoffs. Clayton: “The Chargers have had enough close losses that they may have fallen into pretender mode. The Mike McCoy-Philip Rivers union is a good one, but the Chargers aren't getting enough big plays to win these games at the end.”

ESPN Broncos beat reporter Jeff Legwold has the latest on Peyton Manning’s right ankle injury suffered at the end of the game. Manning will have an MRI back in Denver today.

Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego writes that while the Chargers had their moments, the final result was inevitable.

Will Brinson of CBS Sports gives the Chargers a C-minus for their effort in the loss against the Broncos. Brinson: “The Chargers mounted a late comeback and managed to sack Peyton Manning twice but they still didn't have much of an answer for Denver's offense. Philip Rivers needed to have a bigger game if the Chargers wanted a shot at winning.”

Ricky Henne of Chargers.com writes that the Chargers are not taking a moral victory from hanging tough with one of the best teams in the NFL.

Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego writes that Chargers left tackle King Dunlap could be dealing with a neck injury instead of a concussion.

Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego writes that the efficient play of Peyton Maning was too much for the Chargers to overcome.

Jason Zink and Michael Shamburger of The Big Lead take a big-picture look at what pass plays work in the red zone. They say teams should shy away from throwing fade routes and look to attack the middle of the field in front of the goal line, letting an elusive player like Danny Woodhead work his way into the end zone.