Quick Take: Chargers-Broncos

In Brief

  Following a slow start, 
 Broncos WR 
 Brandon Marshall has picked up his game the past three weeks. 

(Bill Nichols / Associated Press)

Last meeting:
With the AFC West title on the line in Week 17 last season, the Chargers dismantled the Broncos, 52-21.

The Chargers have won five of the last six meetings, but trail the overall series, 53-44-1.

Last week:
Denver stormed back in the second half to beat New England, 20-17, in overtime. ... The Chargers were on a bye.

Keep your eye on ...

Brian Dawkins' veteran presence: On a defense that has far surpassed expectations, Dawkins has been the unit's inspirational leader. Determined to prove his career is far from over after the Eagles released him in the offseason, Dawkins has played with an enthusiasm and energy that has filtered down to the rest of his teammates. He will have to be at his best against San Diego, which loves to attack safeties down the field.

Brandon Marshall's emergence: An offseason filled with turmoil has been left in the past by Marshall. Over the last three weeks he has put up spectacular numbers (17 catches, 222 yards, four touchdowns) and has apparently made up with coach Josh McDaniels. Chargers CB Antonio Cromartie said in an offseason chat on NFL.com that Marshall is the toughest receiver in the league to cover and Marshall will get a chance to remind him why he said that this Monday night.

Shawne Merriman's impact: Merriman and San Diego general manager A.J. Smith were not on the same page over the bye week as Merriman did not take kindly to Smith's criticisms of the team. Merriman has plenty of reason to be frustrated -- he has only eight tackles and zero sacks this year. The Chargers need him to come out and get some pressure on Kyle Orton if they hope to shut down a surprisingly effective Broncos offense.

Did you know?

Broncos QB Kyle Orton is 26-12 as a starter. ... Denver RB Knowshon Moreno leads all rookies with 337 rushing yards. ... Chargers QB Philip Rivers is 4-0 on Monday Night Football with a 106.9 passer rating. ... San Diego's Antonio Gates leads NFL tight ends with 53 touchdown catches since 2003.

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