SAN DIEGO - One coach, Gary Kubiak, is resting at home.
The other coach, Mike McCoy, reportedly is coaching for his job.
It’s not easy managing stress in the NFL coaching profession. The Denver Broncos, without Kubiak, meet the beleaguered McCoy’s San Diego Chargers tonight at Qualcomm Stadium (kickoff at 6:25 p.m.)
Here are 9 keys to the Broncos prevailing and extending their NFL-record road division winning streak to 15 games:
1. Protect Siemian
Trevor Siemian is returning, ready or not, from an injured left, non-throwing shoulder to start at quarterback for the Broncos. He can’t be taking many hits so the offensive line will have to protect him. Otherwise, rookie Paxton Lynch will play for a third consecutive game.
2. Rattle Rivers
Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers is considered one of the 10 best in the league. He’s not very good when pressured, though, and the Broncos led by Von Miller have brought the heat while beating him five consecutive years in his own building.
3. Win one for Kubes
The big X factor in this game is how Bronco players respond to not having their leader. Kubiak has led this team through a series of problems in the past two years. If the Broncos encounter trouble tonight, can they get through without him?
4. Bring it, Joe!
Interim head coach Joe DeCamillis has the spunk and intellect to inspire the team. Let’s see how he does with the dozen or so in-game decisions he will have to make for the first time as the head man.
5. Run, C.J., run!
Neither C.J. Anderson nor rookie Devontae Booker have had much success running the ball since the opener. It won’t be easy against the Chargers, either, as they rank No. 8 in the league against the run. But the Broncos do return right tackle Donald Stephenson and tight end Virgil Green to the starting lineup.
6. Strip Gordon
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has been much improved compared to his horrendous rookie season – except when it comes to hanging on to the ball. He lost four fumbles last year and two more through five games this season.
7. Hang in there
The Chargers figure to give it all they have tonight, but they have found ways to lose four games this year. If the Broncos can keep it tight, the Chargers may gag at the end.
8. Mix in a zone
Last week, the Falcons exploited the Broncos’ inside linebackers with their running backs. The Chargers may try to get old reliable Antonio Gates and his tight end partner Hunter Henry, a 6-6, 250-pound load who has two touchdown catches while averaging 17.5 yards per reception, isolated on Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis tonight.
9. Get it to the divas
To repeat, the Broncos’ most impactful offensive players are receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. They rank 13th and 14th in receiving yards, but they are capable of 3rd and 4th.
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