The victory for Peyton Manning's Broncos sets up a tantalizing showdown next Sunday when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots visit the Mile High city with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.
Manning, who passed for a record 55 touchdowns during a record-smashing regular season, was more clinical than spectacular on a blustery, cool day in Colorado.
He completed 25 passes for a modest 230 yards, including two short touchdown strikes to Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas in the first half.
The red-hot Chargers arrived in Denver riding the momentum from a five-game winning streak and had looked poised to keep their season alive with a fourth quarter rally that cut Denver's 17-point advantage to seven with about six minutes to play.
But Manning would not give the Chargers another chance, running out the clock with ball control offense to clinch the victory.