CINCINNATI -- Good morning. ESPN Broncos beat reporter Jeff Legwold explores whether it matters if a team is hot heading into Sunday’s AFC divisional round contest between the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos.
The Chargers of course have won five straight, and six of their past seven. The Broncos finished the season 13-3, and haven’t lost since falling to the Chargers on Dec. 12 in Denver, 27-20.
Legwold writes that the only longer winning streak underway in the league is San Francisco’s seven-game span that includes last weekend's road victory against the Green Bay Packers.
Denver head coach John Fox was asked this week during a conference call with San Diego-area reporters if he thought the Chargers were the hotter team heading into Sunday’s contest.
“Everybody in the playoffs is hot, hotter than the other 24,” Fox said. “It’s a one-game season. And you play all season to get this opportunity. They played a very good game against the Cincinnati Bengals, a very talented football team. They had to go on the road. Like I said, three weeks ago they came in here and beat us. So they’re playing very well.”
The Baltimore Sun reports that a Pennsylvania man who is an apparent fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers sought an injunction this week claiming the Chargers should not be in the playoffs. The suit was filed via inmate mail from the Pennsylvania corrections department.
Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post writes that the Chargers are the unlikeliest team to reach the postseason. Fortenbaugh: “The expectations had reached their lowest point in years. This was a rebuilding project that would take time and require patience. The playoffs -- a feat which hadn’t been achieved in any of the previous three seasons despite the predictions of many that such a goal would be reached -- was something that was possibly worth pondering somewhere down the road.”
Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated uses All-22 film to detail how the Chargers can knock off the Broncos a second straight time.
Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports points to Denver’s no-huddle and San Diego’s ability to run the ball as two key things to watch for on Sunday.
Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego writes that a healthy Ryan Mathews is crucial for the Chargers against Denver.
Ricky Henne of Chargers.com writes that San Diego’s offense and defense have to continue to play off each other if the team is to win on the road in Denver for a second straight time.
John Gennaro of Bolts from the Blue tells us why he is not afraid of the Broncos in San Diego’s rematch.