ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **The weeks remaining in the 2013 NFL regular season are waning and the playoff picture is tightening, but only one thing remains in Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy's sights this week – a Thursday night rematch with the division-leading Broncos.
The Chargers' 37-14 win over the Giants on Sunday helped San Diego stay in the hunt for a Wild Card berth in the AFC Playoffs, but McCoy noted during a conference call on Tuesday with the Denver media that his team's focus is solely on preparing for the Broncos rather than the Chargers' playoff hopes.
"We're just worrying about the Denver Broncos right now," McCoy said. "Everything else, we can't control the rest of the league. The only thing we can do is take care of ourselves right now, put a great plan together for Thursday night and go give it our best shot."
The Broncos have won 10 consecutive games against AFC West opponents, including a 28-20 win over the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in Week 10.
It was in that game, however, that the Chargers held the Broncos to their second-lowest scoring output of the season and sacked Denver quarterback Peyton Manning twice, one of which forced a Denver fumble deep in its own territory and led to a San Diego touchdown. McCoy credited the Chargers' defensive successes in that game in part to the game plan that his coaching staff crafted to stop the Broncos – successes that he will look to replicate and improve upon this week.
"Well, I think the coaches put a great plan together. We worked extremely hard putting the plan together – the same as we've done this past week," McCoy said. "There are certain things you try to do every game. It comes down to players, one guy against the other, out-executing the one guy in front of him. I think the defensive line and the guys when they brought pressure did a nice job of getting after him. We've got a good plan in place, also."
Rookie linebacker Manti Te'o totaled five tackles and one pass defensed in the first meeting between the teams a month ago, but Te'o noted that his own personal growth on the field has been significant in the time since then.
"There is a lot that I know that when I look back at that guy playing them, I can see how young he was," Te'o said. "I was young and I made some young mistakes. It's amazing how fast you learn and how fast you grow. I've definitely corrected those mistakes and looking forward to this Thursday."
Part of correcting those mistakes will involve slowing down Manning, whose 4,522 passing yards and 45 touchdown passes lead the NFL – something that Te'o noted will require strong communication between the Chargers defenders.
"The first thing you've got to do is you've got to communicate," he said. "You have to communicate and you have to worry about doing your job. With Peyton, he's one of the best to ever do it. He'll do his thing and he's got weapons all around him and has the ability to change the game."
McCoy, who worked with Manning as the Broncos' offensive coordinator in 2012, noted that he's not surprised by the success the quarterback has had with distributing the ball to so many different targets this season.
"I think historically, since he's been in the league, that's the way he's been," McCoy said. "He's always been a guy that – with his football intelligence and the way he plays the game – he's going to take what the defense gives him. Whether it was his early years in Indy, his late years in Indy, his time in Denver the last two years – he's going to more often than not find the open guy."
And finding a way to disrupt that fluidity is something that Te'o said will come down to defensive execution on the Chargers' behalf.
"As a defense, we have to do our job," Te'o said. "We have to know what we have to do and we have to execute the best we can. That's how you do it. There's no secret potion, no secret formula to doing it. You just have to go out there and play and play the best that you can."
Ultimately, the big-picture implications of the game were hardly lost on Te'o, but he was clear to point out that the first and most important step to any playoff aspirations concerns executing on the road against a team with the best record in the AFC.
"I think we understand where we're at, we understand the situation we're in – from here on out, every game is a 'must win,'" Te'o said. "Everybody wants to get into the tournament at the end of the season, and in order for us to get there we've got to win this Thursday. And then after this Thursday, we'll focus on the next game. We understand how big this game is, we're just looking to prepare the same way we've been preparing and come out on Thursday and execute."
And finding a way to pick up a critical win on Thursday night is a goal that McCoy noted the Chargers will be well-prepared to pursue.
"Well, that is definitely a goal. That is a goal every week – to go out there, win and put your best plan together," McCoy said. "This is a very good football team we're playing, but we've got great plans in all three phases and we'll be ready Thursday night."