Trindon Holliday is the Key

Broncos versus Chargers: Trindon Holliday is the key

The Denver Broncos have been the most popular choice to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl since this summer. Peyton Manning still looks most likely to lead his club there. Yet they have legitimate reasons to fear the San Diego Chargers, who beat them 27-20 in Week 15. The Bolts are riding a 5 game win streak. Their familiarity with the Broncos gives them a great chance to send them home without a playoff win.

Should be a great one. I expect at least 3 great hours of entertainment. I’m sure Peyton throws for 400 yards with a few touchdowns. Like Week 15, San Diego will try to run the ball, control the clock and keep Peyton off the field. Should come down to the last minute, the last possession, the last score.

Who’ll be the key player? Manning and Phillip Rivers are obvious choices. Will Demaryius Thomas or Keenan Allen be the difference? Julius Thomas or Antonio Gates? Knowshon Moreno or Ryan Matthews? Naw. I think Trindon Holliday is the key.

One quirky truth about Holliday is that he was undefeated during the 2012 regular season. After winning the first 5 games of the year with the Houston Texans, he was released then signed with Denver, who went undefeated from there. At 5-5 and 170 pounds, he’s also one of the tiniest guys in NFL history. It’s his 4.34 speed that makes a huge impact. He’s one of the few guys who puts me on the edge of my seat every time he touches the ball.

Remember Holliday’s last playoff game? He took a punt 90 yards for a score and a kickoff 104. Both returns are playoff records. He’d have won the game had it not been for a Joe Flacco Hail Mary to send the game to overtime. Jacoby Jones caught that touchdown. Curiously, he was also released from the Texans that year.

Rightfully so, all the jibber-jabber is about the offenses of Manning and Rivers. The resulting discussion, of course, is whether the defenses of Denver and San Diego can contain the other guy. But don’t forget about the return game. In a tight shoot-out, I get the feeling field position set up by a long return will play a factor. Or maybe it’s just an outright touchdown return that is the difference.

This year, San Diego’s kick coverage has been solid. They haven’t yielded a score yet. But they have allowed big plays. The longest punt return against them is 38 yards. The longest kick return is 42. In the thin air of Denver, kick returns are rare although last year’s playoff game was in Denver. The most likely source of a highlight return is by punt.

Maybe Keenan Allen or Danny Woodhead flip the script on Denver with a big return of their own. The Broncos have given up a 51 yard punt return and a 108 yard kickoff return this year.

I’m itching. I can’t wait. I don’t know if I’m more excited about a legendary Peyton Manning Super Bowl run or the underdog Chargers biting them in the whatsit. I am anticipating Trindon Holliday turning some defenders inside-out trying to catch him.

David Klenda, also known as Eighty Six, is Division Leader for the NFC West and AFC West. Find him at Eighty Six the Poet , on Twitter as 86ThePoet, at Bright Hub or Smashwords .

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