Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos smiles during his game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on September 29, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Eagles 52-20. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
The Broncos come to town this weekend, and with them they bring not only Peyton Manning, but an offense that ranks first in the league in yards per game.
“The personnel speaks for itself," said head coach Mike McCoy, who spent four seasons with Denver as their offensive coordinator. "With the quarterback and skilled position guys they have, they are a very talented group with good depth."
Denver also leads the league in first downs, another test for the Chargers defense. Manning has 29 touchdown passes and six interceptions on the season. He's thrown for 2,919 passing yards.
The Broncos' roster includes names like Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Knowshon Moreno and Eric Decker, all of whom help to give the Broncos a balanced attack through the air and on the ground.
"Welker, Thomas, Decker … Those three guys … As much as how amazing Peyton is, those guys help him out and are amazing as well," said safety Eric Weddle. "That's why we try to stay away from 'Us versus Peyton.' It's 'Us versus the Broncos.' We gotta play the whole team."
Added defensive end Corey Liuget: "We definitely have to play great defense. Knowshon is definitely carrying the ball and they have a heck of a quarterback. That balances it out too."
The Chargers defense will look to redeem themselves from the overtime loss against the Redskins Sunday, where they allowed Washington to drive down the field and score the winning touchdown on the first possession.
"Denver is a one of those division games that we always, not necessarily have circled but we know it's a week that we want to perform at our best," said linebacker Larry English. "This week, I think we can put ourselves in a really good position. We're eager to come out and have a better showing than what we did last week in overtime."
The Chargers will face a few friends who are now foes.
On the Broncos defense, there will be cornerback Quentin Jammer and linebacker Shaun Phillips, who has 6.5 sacks on the season.
“It’ll be weird," said quarterback Philip Rivers. "They were obviously on this side, Jammer for over ten years and Shaun for nine seasons. They helped us beat Denver a bunch of times, so it will be different on the other side. Those guys, I know they’ve contributed to [Denver] in a big way this season."
On offense will be guard Lou Vasquez, who has been "playing at a Pro Bowl level" this season, according to Broncos head coach John Fox.
"Yeah, it's definitely good going against a former teammate," Liuget said. "I believe Lou is going to be ready, and we're going to be ready."
After being benched for the second half of the game against the Redskins, cornerback Derek Cox responded by doing extra speed work after practice Wednesday.
"You definitely have to remember your past victories, just to remind yourself what you're capable of," Cox said. "You can't give into the adversity. You have to have a positive outlook about it. You have to remind yourself good things are coming."
Cox was benched once before in his career, when he played for Jacksonville. In the fourth quarter of a game against the Broncos in 2010, he lost his job to cornerback David Jones. Cox did not start for the following five games.
"My mentality is just to stay with it," Cox said. "Keep moving, keep working. I can't get discouraged by it.
"You have to look at any adversity you face as a necessary measure to really define you."