DEFENSE STILL NEEDS WORK: This wasn't a good defense coming into December and the tinkering the Broncos have been doing over the last two games isn't helping. A neck injury that has harmed his performance is costing linebacker Wesley Woodyard playing time in favor of Paris Lenon, a 12th-year veteran the team signed off the street at the end of the preseason. Safety Duke Ihenacho has lost his starting spot to Omar Bolden. Rookie cornerback Kayvon Webster continues to get schooled while playing for Champ Bailey. What the Broncos need is for Bailey to get healthy, for Von Miller to start showing up on a consistent basis and for someone, anyone, on this dinged-up defense to start making big plays.
REVVED-UP RIVERS: Rivers is better than Manning, better than Tom Brady, better than even Aaron Rodgers — in December, that is. The San Diego quarterback improved his league-best record to 28-6 when the calendar flips to the final month of the year. And while his stats Thursday weren't overwhelming — 12 of 20 for 166 yards and two touchdowns — he did help the Chargers nearly double Denver in time of possession. "(Rivers) is an elite quarterback in this league," Denver defensive lineman Terrance Knighton said. "They didn't try to make the big plays, just took what we gave them. Hitting us for four yards here, eight yards there, 12 yards there. They kept the ball out of our offense's hands."
BACK IN CONTENTION: Just like that, the Chargers are a legitimate factor in the playoff chase. They have as many wins as Miami and Baltimore, who are also in the running for the AFC's last playoff spot. "We always seem to make it interesting," Rivers said. "We're a .500 ball club that's going to fight like crazy to get the next two." San Diego finishes the season with home games against Oakland and Kansas City. But coach Mike McCoy isn't thinking that far ahead. "We can't control the rest of the league; all we can do here ... is play our best football week in and week out," McCoy said.