2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Broncos ready for rematch with rival Chargers

By ARNIE STAPLETON - AP Pro Football Writer
    2014-01-05 21:14

DENVER (AP) - The Denver Broncos are 13-3 and own the AFC's top seed, just like last year.

Only this time, they've lost to each of the three remaining teams in the bracket.

The Colts won 39-33 on Oct. 20 in Peyton Manning's unhappy homecoming in Indianapolis.

The Patriots won 34-31 in overtime on Nov. 24 in Wes Welker's disappointing return to New England

And, San Diego handed the Broncos their only loss in Denver 27-20 on Dec. 12.

The Chargers earned a return trip to the Mile High City by upsetting Cincinnati 27-10 Sunday in the wild-card round. The original AFL teams have never met in the playoffs.

Some Broncos admitted last year they were overly confident after roaring into the playoffs on an 11-game winning streak only to lose 38-35 in double-overtime to Baltimore, a team it had beaten handily on the road in December.

That shouldn't be a problem this time.

The Chargers held the Broncos, the highest-scoring team of the Super Bowl era at 37.9 points a game, to their lowest output of the season last month.

''It's fresh in our minds that if we don't do our best, we can get beat at home,'' wide receiver Bubba Caldwell said. ''Baltimore a year ago, San Diego a month ago.''

Denver was without Welker (concussion) against the Chargers that night, which cost them on third down (3 for 8) and in time of possession (22 minutes for Manning, 38 for Philip Rivers).

Ryan Mathews helped the Chargers gain more than 100 yards on the ground on first down, a problem the Broncos addressed with the signing of defensive end Jeremy Mincey a few days later after his release by the Jaguars.

Mincey has helped seal off the edge and curtail opponents' running games.

And Welker is set to return for the playoffs after missing the final 3 1/2 games.

But the Broncos also enter the playoffs without star linebacker Von Miller (knee) and a slew of other injured players on defense, one reason they so desperately wanted the home-field advantage and first-round bye again.

San Diego's win in Denver was one of four straight that helped the Chargers (10-7) sneak into the playoffs.

''SD it is! Excited! I'm done with sitting around. Now we have work to do!'' guard Zane Beadles tweeted Sunday night.

The Broncos and Chargers will be playing at Sports Authority Field exactly one year after Denver's devastating defeat to the Ravens when Rahim Moore's mistimed jump allowed Jacoby Jones' 70-yard TD catch from Joe Flacco in the final minute that tied it at 35.

''The main thing we really learned was as a team, we have to play 60 minutes,'' Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said. ''Nobody is going to give up, because it's do-or-die.''

Broncos coach John Fox and his former offensive coordinator Mike McCoy took a lot of heat after that playoff pratfall for their conservative approach late in the game, especially when Manning was ordered to take a knee with 31 seconds and three timeouts remaining in regulation.

McCoy was hired as San Diego's head coach a few days later. Under his tutelage, Rivers, who is 6-2 in Denver, enjoyed a resurgent season and the Chargers ended a three-year playoff drought. On Sunday, they won their first playoff game since 2008 - against Manning's Colts.

''I'm not worried about last year, to tell you the truth,'' Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno said on Friday. ''I'm ready for this year, ready for this new season. Last year is last year. Let's get it going this year.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

Dennis KellyDec 20 03:32p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, WR Jeff Maehl, S Jerome Couplin III, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, DE Taylor Hart, LB Trent Cole inactive for Week 16.

Leonard HankersonDec 20 03:12p

The Washington Redskins have declared CB Chibuikem Okoro, LB Gabe Miller, DL Jason Hatcher, OG Josh LeRibeus, LB Keenan Robinson, WR Leonard Hankerson inactive for Week 16.

Roy HeluDec 20 03:02p

Washington Redskins RB Roy Helu (toe) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Peyton ManningDec 19 07:42p

Updating a previous report, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) was officially limited in practice Friday, Dec. 19, but he threw more than he did than the day prior, [ More ]

Frank GoreDec 19 05:42p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) was limited in practice Friday, Dec. 19, and is questionable for Week 16.

Keenan AllenDec 19 04:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) and WR Keenan Allen (shoulder, ankle) have been ruled out for Week 16 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Cam NewtonDec 19 04:12p

Updating previous reports, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) has yet to officially be cleared to play in Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns, but head coach Ron Rivera [ More ]

T Y HiltonDec 19 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice all week but is questionable for Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Peyton ManningDec 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) was back to a full practice Friday, Dec. 19, after being limited Thursday, Dec. 18. Manning made several strong throws in the portion open to the media.

T Y HiltonDec 19 02:12p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice again Friday, Dec. 19, and RTV6's Mike Chappell is convinced that Hilton will not play in Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.

C.J. SpillerDec 19 12:53p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) has been added to the active roster and is probable for Week 16 against the Oakland Raiders.

Cam NewtonDec 19 12:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) is listed as probable for Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns.

Blake BortlesDec 19 12:12p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (foot) completed only 13 passes for 115 yards in the win over the Tennessee Titans Thursday, Dec. 18, but he didn't show any signs [ More ]

T Y HiltonDec 19 11:52a

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is not participating in the portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

Julio JonesDec 19 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

DeMarco MurrayDec 19 10:52a

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) is likely to play in Week 16, according to a source. Murray has a high threshold for pain, and according to the source, [ More ]

Eddie LacyDec 19 10:12a

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy (eye) said he wasn't able to read a teammate's nameplate a few feet away in the locker room Thursday, Dec. 18. Lacy said [ More ]

Leon WashingtonDec 18 11:32p

Tennessee Titans RB Leon Washington caught a team-high seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown in the team's 21-13 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday, Dec. 18. He [ More ]

Philip RiversDec 18 11:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) looked good throwing the ball in the practice Thursday, Dec. 18, according to head coach Mike McCoy. 'Philip had an outstanding day,' [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) continues through the concussion protocol this week, but head coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates Gore suiting up in Week 16 against the San [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

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