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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 28, , 2005
Season Ticket
Sat 4:30 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM SEA at GB*
DEN at SD* ARI at IND CHI at MIN* NO at TB WAS at PHI*
Sat 8 PM BAL at CLE CIN at KC Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
Updated* CAR at ATL MIA at NE TEN at JAC* Times ET

Prediction: Denver 10, San Diego 27

The Broncos won 20-17 back in week two when the Chargers came to Denver but this is yet another game that looked a few weeks ago but now is just meaningless. The Chargers are out of the playoffs and the Broncos are in and nothing that happens in this game really matters other than injuring a Bronco. Which is exactly the reason why Denver has already admitted many players will miss this week. Oh well - they'll play twice next year. Maybe those will have the teams both trying to win.

Update: : LaDainian Tomlinson's ribs are apparently worse off than a mere bruise and it will not only have a negative effect on his production, it could end up letting Michael Turner have more playing time.

Denver Broncos (12-3)
1 10-34 @MIA 10 31-17 @OAK
2 20-17 SDC 11 27-0 NYJ
3 30-10 KCC 12 24-21 @DAL
4 20-7 @JAC 13 27-31 @KCC
5 21-19 WAS 14 12-10 BAL
6 28-20 NE 15 28-17 @BUF
7 23-24 @NYG 16 22-3 OAK
8 49-21 PHI 17 Dec 31 @SDC
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DEN at SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 0 0 140
RB Ron Dayne 70,1 10 0
RB Tatum Bell 40 10 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 20 0
WR Rod Smith 0 40 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 30 0
WR Charlie Adams 0 30 0
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Broncos have beaten the Raiders and their work for the regular season is done. Now HC Mike Shanahan has already stated that he will be sitting a slew of players this week and even those who do start will not necessarily finish the game. With a first round bye, a bit of playing time is all that is needed to keep the players fresh and sharp. Much more an it becomes an injury risk.

Quarterback: Very are reports that Jake Plummer will sit out of part if not all this game. Officially, he will start and play but figure on him leaving the game early. Plummer threw for 248 yards and no scores in the previous meeting with the Chargers.

Running Backs: Mike Anderson has already been ruled out this week so figure on Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne sharing the load with the bigger chunk going to Dayne to close out the game. Now that is why the Broncos held on to him. Anderson gained 49 yards on 15 carries and Dayne ran for 44 yards on eight rushes in the previous meeting with the Chargers. Fullback Kyle Johnson scored on his only run in the game.

Wide Receivers: There is no word that any wideout will sit this week but the effects of a reduced Bronco team should have predictable results. Expect the wideouts to all play but Rod Smith in particular may end up on the sideline before the game is over.

Smith had 83 yards on eight receptions and Lelie had six grabs for 62 yards when the Broncos last visited the Chargers.

Tight Ends: Jeb Putzier is a lock to play the entire game but no certainty to do much.

Match Against the Defense: The Broncos will put up a fight at least initially before the Chargers gain the advantage and continue to care during the second half. Expect a moderate to good rushing game that will likely favor Dayne with some Bell thrown in.

Plummer should play at least some, but he wasn't that effective in the first meeting. Hands off all Broncos this week.

San Diego Chargers (9-6)
1 24-28 DAL 10 Open Bye
2 17-20 @DEN 11 48-10 BUF
3 45-23 NYG 12 23-17 @WAS
4 41-17 @NE 13 34-10 OAK
5 22-24 PIT 14 21-23 MIA
6 27-14 @OAK 15 26-17 @IND
7 17-20 @PHI 16 7-20 @KCC
8 28-20 KCC 17 Dec 31 DEN
9 31-26 @NYJ . MON SAT
SDC vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 220,2
RB L. Tomlinson 60,1 20 0
RB Michael Turner 40 10 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 60,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 50,1 0
WR Eric Parker 0 40 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 30 0
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Chargers loss in Kansas City last week sealed their fate so there is nothing to win or lose here. Despite that fact, HC Marty Schottenheimer has gone on record as saying that all normal players will be used and that there will be no substitutions to give player time to back-ups. He said he "only knows how to play to win" which is unfortunate since his team didn't do it quite enough this season.

Quarterback: Schottenheimer has already said that Philip Rivers will not be playing this week unless Drew Brees is injured during the game. Brees threw for 175 yards and no scores in the previous meeting with the Broncos and he'll probably like Denver more without CB Darrent Williams, LB Al Wilson or DE Courtney Brown. Even Champ Bailey may not play the full game.

Running Backs: Ladainian Tomlinson will play the full game but there are no records that he is shooting for in particular and he ran for just 52 yards on 19 carries but scored twice in Denver this year. With all the defensive players held out this week, he could have that much by halftime easily.

Wide Receivers: Keenan McCardell only had 54 yards in week two against the Broncos but the corners may both be out eventually in this game. His match-up against Champ Bailey would likely affect him in a normal game but Bailey is already banged up this week and could sit out part of the match-up. If the Broncos are not successful on offense, there could be less reason for the Chargers to be throwing the ball.

Tight Ends: In Antonio Gates first game of the year, he gained 80 yards on six catches in the previous meeting with the Broncos. Gates already has a sizeable lead on all other tight ends in every category, so there is nothing in particular he wants to do in this game other than contribute to a win.

Match Against the Defense: With so many defensive players out, it's hard to predict what match-ups will be exploited most but the Chargers want the win here and the Broncos don't really care that much. Expect a nice game from Tomlinson with enough left over for Gates and McCardell to give them fantasy merit this week as well.