Johnson calls trip to Denver a playoff game

SAN DIEGO -- With his team teetering on the brink of elimination from this year's postseason conversation, San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said the playoffs start for his 6-7 team on Thursday on the road against AFC West division rival Denver.

The Chargers have not defeated the Broncos since Peyton Manning arrived in the Mile High City. Manning is an impressive 10-0 against AFC West foes. The Broncos are one of five teams undefeated at home this season, with an average margin of victory of 20.4 points a game.

"In my mind, this is a playoff scenario for us," Johnson said. "I can't wait. It's going to be a great challenge. But as a competitor and as an athlete in the NFL, these are the opportunities that you want. We've worked ourselves into a hole. We have to depend on other people. But the only thing we're focusing on is what we can control, and right now that's Denver."

One thing the Chargers can lean on is the team's record in December. Since 2006, when Philip Rivers emerged as the team's franchise quarterback, the Chargers are 27-6 in the final month of the NFL season, including 1-1 this season.

"This time of year is what's exciting," Johnson said. "Even though we're behind in the standings, we've still got a shot. We've got something to fight for. December football is what it's all about. It's cold -- even here it's cold -- it's awesome. It's just a fun time of year."

Johnson said his linebacker group watched the first half of the first Denver game Monday afternoon.

So what did he see?

"What stood out is how many just dumb things we did," Johnson said. "Golly, if we just play our base coverage and don't totally blow this, it's not a 70-yard gain or a 15-yard gain."

San Diego coach Mike McCoy said his team suffered no significant injuries of note against the Giants. Receiver Keenan Allen (shoulder), Rivers (neck) and cornerback Shareece Wright (ankle) got dinged up during the game, but returned to the field.

Although it sounded like it, McCoy said he did not mean to guarantee victory against Denver this week after his team's win over the Giants on Sunday. According to McCoy, he simply meant to say that his team is traveling to Denver with the intent to win a football game.

"No. 1, we're just worrying about Thursday night," McCoy said. "And I think with everybody's that here and the way we've played this year, we know we can win. We've just got to do it more consistently. So I think without a doubt, the way we've played at times this year the players know we can win."