Well, here we are again. We are heading into week 11, and our road to the playoffs continues to be a tough one. We went from holding down the final playoff spot two weeks ago, to barely in the hunt behind 5 other teams this week. I won’t bore you with any “these games were winnable” talk, as it has already been pointed out numerous times. We all know where it stands for the Chargers, and every game is a must win from here out. If they keep their noses to the grindstone, this season is not over yet!
We can take away a little bit of pride from the Denver game. Our Bolts hung around until the very end, and almost staged a comeback. But, as they say “almost only counts in horseshoes, and hand grenades”. It was actually flip-flopped from the 2012 meltdown, and not nearly as bad. This time, the defense gave up too many points out of the gate, and then held them to just 7 points in the second half. It was also nice to NOT see the Chargers offense giving the ball away on every series. If only they could put two halves of solid play together against Denver, the Chargers would be the team to beat! But, they didn’t, so let’s take a look at the rest of the schedule.
I know it’s crazy, but I still have hope that we can reach the playoffs. I said last week that we needed to AT LEAST split the Denver & KC games, and handle the rest of our business to have a chance. That thought still stands, in my opinion. I was hoping that with Denver coming off the bye week, and the game being played in San Diego, that this would be one of those wins. Getting a win on the road in Denver (on Thursday Night Football) will be tough, but not impossible. Even if we lose that game, we still have a chance to beat KC twice. The world will be watching to see how KC holds up against Denver this weekend. They definitely have a shot at getting to Manning, but can their offense keep pace? If they get blown out, this would give me a great deal of hope for both of our match-ups with the Chiefs.
What Happened This Weekend:
Even though the they lost to Denver, the Chargers caught some big breaks this weekend that kept the playoff candle burning. I couldn’t believe that the Titans lost to Jacksonville IN Tennessee, and the Dolphins lost to Tampa Bay! Both the Jags & the Bucs were winless, and I wasn’t holding my breath for either of those teams to win. The Titans were handed another conference loss, allowing the Jets to hold onto the final wild card spot for one more week. Miami looks like it is spiraling out of control, and we play them this weekend. They looked awful last night, so let’s hope that continues. Tennessee also lost Jake Locker to injury, and I’m not sure that Fitzpatrick can play well enough to keep them in the hunt. We’ll have to keep an eye on Locker’s injury status, as it unfolds.
The Chargers really didn’t help their situation by losing these last two games. The AFC North contenders have now leap-frogged us in the hunt. We tallied yet another conference loss, and are at the back of the pack, for now. But, we still have the same record as four of the five contending teams. Miami, Tennessee, Cleveland, and Baltimore are all ahead of us based on conference record alone. Unfortunately for us, the Ravens beat Cincinnati on Sunday, and Cleveland (who were on a bye), moved up when we lost. We are now 2-4 in the AFC, which is not good enough to beat these teams out, as of now. The Steelers DID help us out slightly by keeping the Buffalo Bills at 3 wins, and only improving to 3 wins themselves. Looking at this wild card race, it’s frustrating that the Chargers had so much go their way, but were unable to secure a win.
What Needs To Happen This Weekend:
The Chargers are headed off to Miami to play a reeling Dolphins team. The big question in Miami this week was how much the Jonathan Martin & Richie Incognito bullying scandal would distract the Dolphins? Also, how would losing two of its starting offensive lineman affect their play? The answer is “A LOT”! This team couldn’t get anything going on the ground, and actually had one of their running backs get stuffed for a safety. The tides seemed to change slightly in the second half, and Tampa looked like they were letting the game slip away. But, they snapped out of it, and put the game away. Tampa Bay is the worst team in the league, and managed to get the job done. The Chargers MUST pull out a conference road win this weekend. They have not had much success traveling to Miami over the years, so catching them in the middle of a tailspin is exactly the type of break the Chargers need. A win here would put them right back on track!
Furthermore, it would help us greatly if the Jets, Titans, Browns, and Ravens also lost this weekend. That’s a lot of help right there, but one can only hope that we continue to have the kind of luck we had in week 10. The Jets play a divisional match up in Buffalo, the Titans host the 6-3 Colts, the Browns also have a tough divisional match up in Cincinnati, and the Ravens travel to Chicago to face the Bears. Except for the Jets, those aren’t easy games to win. Not to mention, 3 out of 4 of them are going on the road. Even the Jets are playing a divisional opponent, which is never easy. The Chargers are only one game behind the Jets, and have the same conference record. As a matter of fact, if all 5 of these teams lost… which isn’t exactly crazy talk looking at the match-ups… the Chargers would be back in the wild-card spot with a win in Miami. Wouldn’t that be nice?
So, we all know this is an uphill fight, and the Chargers know it too. I keep saying “Stranger things have happened”. The Jags & Dolphins proved that this week. No matter how tough the road to the playoffs is, the Chargers still control their own destiny. The AFC is replete with 4 & 5 win teams. A win this weekend could change their luck, and give them some much needed confidence. It’s time for our boys to separate themselves from the pack!
Keep Bolting Toward Excellence!