A disastrous 2-8 finish followed, knocking the Broncos out of the playoffs.
The feeling heading into the rematch is that last Sunday's 49-29 thrashing of Kansas City at home is the start of something. And if the Broncos can beat the Chargers, again on the road in a Monday night, the team -- as remarkable as it may seem -- would hav legitimate hope in the weak, muddled AFC West.
The Broncos start the weekend in last place, just one game back of the Chargers and two behind KC and Oakland, both at 5-4. Denver still has road games with all three AFC West foes after this weekend, along with a non-division schedule that, on paper, doesn't look overly stacked.
Those remaining opponents all have losing records: St. Louis (4-5), Arizona (3-6) and Houston (4-5).
Of course, there are a couple of problems with this pie-in-the-sky scenario.
Denver is truly a flawed team in many ways; foremost, an inconsistent running attack and regular difficulties stopping the run. And as finishing kicks go, the Broncos aren't known to have one.
Apart from last year's 2-8 collapse: Denver ended 2008 with four losses in the final six weeks; won just two of six to culminate 2007; and dropped five of seven to close 2006.
This will truly have to be a flip of the script.
Still, they're in the right division for a legitimate try.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--QB Kyle Orton against KC threw for four TDs without an interception, just the 10th time in team history that's been done.
--QB Tim Tebow has accounted for four total touchdowns (three rushing, one passing) on just 13 offensive touches to lead the NFL in touchdown percentage (30.8).
--RB Knowshon Moreno had three runs of 10-plus yards Sunday vs. Kansas City. It's the first time any Denver RB has accomplished that feat since Moreno also did it in the season opener at Jacksonville.
--RB Lance Ball was used as Knowshon Moreno's backup last Sunday and had two carries for nine yards. Ball had spent the previous six weeks on the practice squad, but Denver opted to not dress Laurence Maroney in favor of Ball.
--WRs Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal comprise the only trio of receivers with at least 40 receptions apiece.
--WR Jabar Gaffney has at least one catch of 20 or more yards since the Sept. 26 Seattle game, a span of six straight contests
--TE Dan Graham has only one catch for 10 yards over the last four games, a trend that extends to the rest of his position-mates. Dan Gronkowski had three receptions vs. SF but was shutout in the three games around it. Richard Quinn has played five straight games but has zero receptions this season.
--LB Mario Haggan's three sacks last Sunday resulted in 32 yards in losses, the most in franchise history since the statistic began being tracked in 1994.
--NT Jamal Williams will face San Diego for the first time in his career. He signed with Denver last spring after 12 seasons with the Chargers.
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