Strength against strength

San Diego rarely gets stopped, which is why the Chargers have the NFL’s highest-scoring offense.

Denver rarely allows teams to move the ball, which is why the Broncos have allowed the fewest points in the NFL.

All of which should make for an interesting game Sunday.

The Chargers helped two teams when they decided to part ways with Drew Brees. New Orleans has prospered with Brees, a potential MVP. But San Diego has flourished with his replacement, Philip Rivers.

Before the 2004 draft, Rivers’ throwing motion was picked apart by scouts and general managers. Some viewed it as an impediment to success. Clearly, that’s not the case. Rivers is an accurate thrower with a good arm. How the ball is delivered is not an issue.

In nine games, Rivers has thrown 13 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. He has the NFL’s third-best passer rating at 100.4. Of course, it helps that he has one of the NFL’s best running backs in LaDainian Tomlinson, who has rushed for 932 yards (second in the NFL) and a league-high 16 touchdowns. Tomlinson is also Rivers’ favorite target, with 377 yards on a team-high 44 catches.

Rivers engineered the 21-point comeback at Cincinnati last week, drawing praise, as he has all season, for his calm demeanor.

The Chargers’ defense also has played well, the 41 points it allowed against the Bengals notwithstanding. While much has been made about suspended linebacker Shawne Merriman and his team-high 8½ sacks, it’s more than just him. Perhaps the most unheralded Charger is nose tackle Jamal Williams, who plugs the middle with the best of them. Also, linebacker Shaun Phillips has seven sacks.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have matched San Diego’s 7-2 start because of their defense, which has been led by cornerback Champ Bailey and linebacker Al Wilson, perhaps the most underrated player in the league. Defensive end Kenard Lang shares the team lead with six sacks.

Denver has held five opponents to single-digit point totals and has allowedan NFL-low 111 points. However, in the past three games it has allowed 67.

That defense has been needed considering quarterback Jake Plummer’s season. He has a 71.6 passer rating and has thrown 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

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