The Chargers, everyone's preseason AFC West pick, face a make-or-break game with unbeaten Denver at home on Monday night: A defeat drops San Diego three games behind the Broncos in the loss column. When opponents analyze video of Denver's defense (the NFL's stingiest at 8.6 points per game), they see coordinator Mike Nolan concealing his fronts by pulling his tackles out of the gaps near the center and replacing them with ends or linebackers. It's just one more way to create uncertainty, and against a Chargers line missing trusty center Nick Hardwick, Nolan will use the scheme to test San Diego's well-rested run game. Still, I like the desperate team here, with Philip Rivers (below) throwing early and often.
Chargers 19, Broncos 16.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (RIVERS)