The quarterback matchup for Monday night is one of the best the league can offer. Rivers is continuing his strong play from last year, and Orton is emerging as more than a caretaker for the Broncos.
The Chargers are not a good running team. They are asking Rivers to win games for them, and he has responded. WRs Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers are good, and Rivers knows how to use them. He is not afraid to take shots down the field and throws a very nice deep ball. The Chargers also find good matchups for TE Antonio Gates. Rivers also makes great use of RB Darren Sproles in the passing game with screens and quick throws. The Chargers' success is based on Rivers being able to use all the weapons at his disposal. Rivers may have mechanics that you would not teach a young player, but he's balanced, accurate and careful with the ball. He's one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Orton, on the other hand, is still developing. But I still think he was the best quarterback in the league last week. In a big game against the Patriots and Tom Brady, the Broncos asked Orton to win the game for them. He did a lot more than manage the game, and his team won. On the two late scoring drives, Orton was 10-for-16 for 107 yards. He delivered.
I was impressed with Orton on the five plays in which Denver used the "Wild Horse" formation. Orton started out wide and then ran back under center. Then he used a quick count to kept New England off balance, and he ended up 5-for-5 for 50 yards on those plays.
Orton also established a confidence in throwing tough passes to Brandon Marshall and letting his big wide receiver make a play. Defenses might get a pick or two on those plays, but Orton and Marshall will get their share of success, too. Denver remains a run-first team. But when teams stack up to stop Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter, the Broncos have confidence in their quarterback to make a play.