SAN DIEGO (AP) — To keep their improbable playoff run going, the San Diego Chargers will have to beat Peyton Manning in January for the third time in seven seasons.
The Chargers won 27-10 at Cincinnati on Sunday to earn a shot at Manning and the top-seeded Denver Broncos on Sunday, the first time the AFC West rivals have met in the postseason.
When Manning was with Indianapolis, the Chargers eliminated the Colts from the playoffs in the 2007 and '08 seasons.
Manning has beaten the Chargers three of four times since joining the Broncos, although the Chargers pulled a shocker in Denver last month.
"It's tough to say you're confident knowing what you're going against. You don't want to take that the wrong way," Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle said Monday. "Do we believe we can win? Yes. Do we know what a tough challenge it is and how great we have to play? Yeah. It's not just because it's happened in the past it's going to happen. You still have to play at a high level and do the things necessary as a team to win."
The Chargers beat Manning and the Colts in a divisional playoff game after the 2007 season, with Weddle getting one of San Diego's two interceptions. In 2008, the Chargers won the AFC West at 8-8 and hosted the Colts in a wild-card game, winning on Darren Sproles' 22-yard run in overtime.
Until Sunday's win in Cincinnati, that had been the Chargers' last playoff victory.
"I've always appreciated and look forward to, as a fan of his growing up, to go against a Peyton Manning-led team," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "Obviously, I and our offense is playing that defense, so I've never felt like I was playing him, but it's always awesome and exciting. The teams that we've both been on have had awesome games, and games have come down to the wire, overtime playoff games and our two games this year were really tight.
"I know they got a big lead in the first one, but we had a chance late, and we were able to win last time there. So it's going to be what you'd expect, I'm sure. It's going to be loud and it's going to be what playoff football is meant to be."
The Broncos beat the Chargers 28-20 in San Diego on Nov. 10. That came during a stretch of four losses in five games that dropped San Diego to 5-7.