ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Quarterback Demaryius Thomas leads the NFL in just about every passing category this year.
But right behind him is the passer the Broncos' defense will be tasked with slowing down this week, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
"Every time you look up, he's always having 300, 400 yards passing," safety Rahim Moore said. "His quarterback rating is (106.5) – that's outstanding. So he's getting better – and it's showing on film. He is who he is. He's going to be a future Hall-of-Famer. There's a reason why he's a (four)-time Pro Bowler. His accolades and his ability every week, it shows."
On the season, Rivers has completed 213-of-295 passes for 2,473 yards with 17 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. His 106.5 passer rating is third in the NFL behind Manning and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rivers leads all passers in completion percentage, hitting his receiver on 72.2 percent of attempts this year. He also leads the league with three 400-yard passing games this season, which is one off Dan Marino's record of four-such outings in 1984.
He is on pace to set or tie career highs in every passing category this season, which is his 10th in the NFL but first with Chargers Head Coach and former Broncos Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy at the helm.
"His completion percentage I think leads the league right now," Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said. "He's getting the ball out of his hands and not taking a lot of sacks. Before they were kind of a chunk offense that would look for chunks, and they might take a sack here and there but they were going to throw the ball deep a lot during the game. So it's a little different approach."
One player who is especially looking forward to lining up against Rivers is defensive end Shaun Phillips. The pair entered the league as rookies together in 2004 and played nine seasons together in San Diego.
"Me and Philip go way back to the Senior Bowl," Phillips said. "We played against each other in the Senior Bowl and we were jawing back and forth. Like I think I hit him one play and the next play he threw a pass and he jawed back at me. So it's just all out of friendly competition in football."
For those nine seasons as teammates, Phillips wasn't allowed to hit his teammate in practice.
Sunday, he'll get his first opportunity to rush Rivers at full speed.
"I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a hit or two on him and I'm pretty sure he's looking to make a play or two on me. It'll be a little bit of jawing back and forth but all out of love because I admire Philip and I think he's a great person and a great player."