Last time the Denver Broncos hosted the San Diego Chargers on Thursday Night Football, San Diego handed Peyton Manning and Co. their first and only home loss of the 2013 season. Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes, Ryan Mathews rushed for 127 yards and a score, and the Chargers won, 27-20.

Thursday night, San Diego takes another trip to Denver on a Thursday night. And at first glance, San Diego’s chances of winning look much better than a year ago; the Chargers are 5-2 entering this game (they were 6-7 entering Week 14 last year), Rivers has been a machine under center, and running back Branden Oliver has burst on to the scene as one of the surprises of 2014.

Despite all this, though, the Broncos are 9.5-point favorites according to most lines. Thursday morning on SiriusXM Bleacher Report Radio, Bleacher Report’s AFC West lead writer Chris Hansen gave his keys to another Chargers Thursday night upset.

“The Chargers are gonna be without Brandon Flowers, they’re gonna maybe be without Jason Verrett, their two best cornerbacks. And when you’re without your two best cornerbacks against Peyton Manning, you’re gonna be in pretty big trouble,” Hansen said. “But the Chargers didn’t have those guys last year, went in Denver on Thursday night and beat Peyton Manning. So anything can happen in this league. The key is if the Chargers can run the ball. They gotta be able to run the ball, keep the ball away from Peyton Manning, and then let Philip Rivers do his thing when they get to the red zone, get touchdowns instead of field goals. They gotta do everything right.”

One match-up the Chargers need to win in order to execute against Denver is the battle in the trenches.

“I think one of the things the Chargers have done is block really well for Branden Oliver,” Hansen said. “That’s not to take away from Branden Oliver at all, but he’s seeing the holes, he’s finding those holes, and once he gets to the second level, a lot of running backs do a pretty good job in this league when they get to the second level. To have that kind of blocking for him, I think he can keep it up. And I think that’s where the offensive and defensive line match-ups for the Broncos and Chargers come into play. The Broncos have been pretty good at stopping the run this year, 3.3 yards-per-carry. Last year? Much worse than that. So that’s a factor that you have to keep in mind.”

Hansen also explained the importance of the game’s opening drive in dictating the overall pace of play.

“[If the] Chargers can get the ball first, maybe they can run the ball a little more. Broncos can get out to an early lead, that’s gonna be harder for the Chargers,” Hansen said. “So every game is a little different. The Chargers are not going to be able to do everything the same that they did last year when they beat the Broncos. But certainly, there’s a recipe there that they can go in, and have Branden Oliver do well against the Broncos.”

Listen to the Broncos-Chargers game on SiriusXM. For programming info, visit the SiriusXM NFL schedule.

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