National Football League
Preview
San Diego at Denver
When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado

Peyton Manning will be back on the field but it will be in a backup role as the Denver Broncos attempt to clinch a first-round bye with a victory over the visiting San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Brock Osweiler has gone 4-2 since replacing an injured Manning, including Monday's come-from-behind victory over Cincinnati that put the Broncos in position for the No. 2 seed.

Denver needs a win and a loss by New England at Miami to snag the top overall seed in the conference, but it also can lose the AFC West title with a loss and a victory by Kansas City. Manning, who has been sidelined since Nov. 15 with a torn plantar fascia, has been dealing with another off-field issue after he was named in a report by Al-Jazeera as having obtained HGH through his wife. "It's not true today and it won't ever be true," Manning said. "And I'm still angry about it." San Diego has dropped nine of its last 11 games, including a 17-3 home loss to the Broncos on Dec. 6.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Broncos -9. O/U: 41

ABOUT THE CHARGERS (4-11): Following its bye in Week 10, San Diego was limited to a field goal in three of its next four games and can match the franchise's worst record since a 4-12 mark in 2003. Philip Rivers has managed to put up some big numbers amid the carnage and can eclipse the franchise single-season record of 4,802 yards (Dan Fouts, 1981) by throwing for 239 yards Sunday, but he was limited to 202 in the earlier meeting with the Broncos. Dontrelle Inman was Rivers' favorite target in a 23-20 overtime loss to Oakland on Christmas Eve, hauling in eight receptions for 82 yards.

ABOUT THE BRONCOS (11-4): Osweiler threw for 299 yards and a touchdown as Denver rallied from a 14-3 halftime deficit and received some help in the running game from C.J. Anderson, who rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders each have over 1,000 yards receiving, the fourth straight year in which the Broncos have had a pair of wideouts with at least 1,000 yards. Although Denver's defense was torched by Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger in a 34-27 loss on Dec. 20, the unit ranks No. 1 in sacks (49), total yards (280.9) and rushing yards (199.1) allowed.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Broncos LB Von Miller has 10 sacks in nine games versus the Chargers.

2. San Diego's Danny Woodhead leads NFL running backs with 704 receiving yards.

3. Thomas (1,187) needs 13 receiving yards to become the first Denver player with four consecutive 1,200-yard seasons.

PREDICTION: Broncos 27, Chargers 13
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf OT Div Conf
San Diego 4-11 L1 20.0 24.7 3-5 1-6 4-8 0-3 0-1 0-5 3-8
Denver 11-4 W1 21.9 18.4 5-2 6-2 10-3 1-1 3-0 3-2 7-4
Last Meeting
San Diego Denver
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
12/6/15 DEN 17 SD 3 272 93 179 293 134 159
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
San Diego P. Rivers 51.4 202 0 1
Denver B. Osweiler 61.5 166 1 1
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
San Diego M. Gordon 12 55 4.6 0
Denver R. Hillman 19 56 2.9 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
San Diego A. Gates 6 50 8.3 0
Denver D. Thomas 6 61 10.2 1
Touchdowns Player TD
San Diego J. Addae 0
Denver D. Thomas 1
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
San Diego P. Rivers 66.5 4564 27 12
Denver P. Manning 59.9 2180 9 17
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
San Diego M. Gordon 184 641 3.5 0
Denver R. Hillman 192 746 3.9 6
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
San Diego K. Allen 67 725 10.8 4
Denver D. Thomas 100 1187 11.9 5
Touchdowns Player TD
San Diego D. Woodhead 9
Denver R. Hillman 6