Nov 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) scores a touchdown during the second half of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chargers won 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Pete’s Positive Playoff Picture


Yes folks, it is time for an installment of Pete’s Positive Playoff Picture. Every week or so, I get my pom-poms out, give you my best “homer cheer”, and try to get people excited about this team making the playoffs. Ironically, there has been some recent outcry from readers that there has been a “doom & gloom” element from the writers & commenters on this site, when it comes to discussing our playoff chances. I have written a few pieces like this over the last month, but they got overshadowed by back-to-back-to-back losses to Washington, Denver, and Miami. I can’t really blame people for not being excited to post positive comments during those defeats. Things looked bleak, at best. People didn’t have much hope for the season, and we were headed on the road to play the 9-1 Chiefs in “the loudest outdoor stadium in the world” last Sunday. Well, the Chargers managed to talk their fans off of the ledge for at least one more week.

The Chargers pulled out a nail-biting victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, keeping their playoff hopes alive! This was a much needed divisional win, and also a conference win. The AFC is replete with 4 & 5 win teams this season, and few teams seem to be totally out of the race. The Chargers went from being behind a ton of teams last week, to being behind just 3 teams this week. I said in my last article that if we could beat the Kansas City Chiefs, I would feel much better about them staying alive. The Chargers not only won, but play 4 out of the last 5 games at home. When your playoff chances are THIS thin, and you have some tough teams to play, having home field advantage is huge!

The next game up is another tough one. The Chargers will be hosting the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. There was talk of this game possibly being blacked out, if the Chiefs beat us. Let’s hope that this is no longer the case. Cincinnati is sitting in first place in their division, has a great defense, and a high powered offense. Andy Dalton, AJ Green, and rookie running back sensation Gio Bernard will be yet another tall task for our defense. Before Sunday’s game, I probably couldn’t have given you much comfort that we could win this game. However, the Chargers have finally taken some big leaps offensively. This now gives them the ability to compete with the Bengals, and secure another must-win home game.

On Sunday, the Chargers finally ended their red zone woes, in Arrowhead stadium. They stopped being stubborn, and got Ryan Mathews involved at the goal line, where he did his patented “Superman Leap” for his 3rd TD (I love that move!). They also got Ladarius Green more involved, and (once again) it paid off big time with a 60+ yard TD. Woodhead was also used properly, came on strong during the final drive, and tallied two TD’s himself. They even put Tutu out there, and he made that amazing game-ending catch. Almost everything we had been begging for as fans was executed at once, and it resulted in one of the best games Charger fans have seen in years! The offense was firing on all cylinders, and running like a well-oiled machine. Rivers was playing like his old pro-bowl self, spreading the ball out to 8 different receivers. The defense was atrocious, but the offense managed to overcome their deficiencies by putting on a highlight reel performance.

If the Chargers defense can step up just a LITTLE bit more, it would make all the difference in the world. If they can keep the ref’s laundry off of the field, make an extra stop or two, get an extra turnover, make better tackles, force more field goals, or even “actually” cover somebody….  this team could definitely make the playoffs. However, if this team keeps up with the “Jekyll & Hyde” roller-coaster routine, they will not. Cincinnati is very capable of keeping up with San Diego in a shootout, so these key defensive stands are most important. They are going to be in front of the home crowd, and need to give their fans a win. They deserve it, after watching the Chargers let a very winnable Broncos home game slip away, with horribly conservative play calling.

The feeling is that we can beat the Giants, The Raiders, and the Chiefs at home. The only road game we have is in Denver on Thursday Night Football. It will be our toughest game left, and it will be on national television. But, we can feel a little bit better about this game, as the Chargers offense played so well against a top rated Chiefs defense in Arrowhead. Not to mention, we gave the Broncos a close run for their money a few weeks ago. I’m sure Philip Rivers will be looking for revenge in Mile High. It will be tough, but we just watched The Patriots hand Denver a “Charger-esque” meltdown of their own. We all saw the Broncos blow a 24-0 halftime lead, and allow 31 unanswered second half points, before losing in overtime. By the way, where are all those Bronco fans who were saying that “only the Chargers are capable of blowing that kind of lead”. To them I say “Touché, senior Burro”.

The clear path to the playoffs is to win out, obviously. But, we have had quite a bit of help from other teams. As the Chargers were losing games, so were the Jets, Titans, Dolphins, and Browns. Unfortunately, the Steelers & Ravens managed to string together some wins, and move ahead of us in the race. To make it even more complicated, they play each other this weekend. The Steelers are technically ahead, so we could root for them to lose. However, the Ravens are doing better in the conference. So, depending on how the next few weeks play out, and who we lose to, that could affect tie-breaker scenarios. So… basically… pick your poison. The Titans play at Indianapolis, and lost the home game to them a few weeks ago. We will all be rooting for Andrew Luck, once again. The good news is that at least one of the teams above us will lose, and we will inch closer, if we win.

Another interesting thing to think about is the Kansas City Chiefs “state of affairs”. After going on a hot 9 game winning streak, where they were beating bad teams, they have dropped their last two to the Broncos & Chargers. I know it is a long shot, but could they possibly lose out the season? If they did, that would free up TWO wild-card spots!

Before you say “you’re insane, Pete”…think about it. They are in the opposite situation that we are. They only play 2 home games in their last 5 games, and three divisional opponents. The home games are Denver this Sunday, and the Indianapolis Colts. Those aren’t really easy opponents, in my opinion. They also play the Raiders in the black hole, the Redskins in Washington, and the Chargers in week 17. That final game could potentially have HUGE playoff implications, if the Chargers win out, and the Chiefs continue their losing streak. The Chiefs will be forced to do this without Justin Houston, and Tamba Hali. Those players were the top two reasons why they were able to finish a lot of close games in the 4th quarter this year. The Raiders aren’t great, but kept it close on the road in Arrowhead. The Redskins look pretty bad, but managed to beat us when we went out there. Can you imagine if the bottom fell out on KC? That would completely change the playoff picture!

I’ll end this off how I usually do. The best way for the Chargers to get to the playoffs is to keep winning. They have a tough schedule, but they clearly haven’t given up. As long as they haven’t given up, neither will I. But, they have to show us that they aren’t that team who destroyed the Steelers in Pittsburgh last year, only to come back and lay an egg at home against Carolina. They need to beat the Bengals, and head into Denver with some confidence. Even if they lose to the Bengals, or lose in Denver, they still wouldn’t be totally out of it. So, I will keep the torch burning for all of the “dreamers” out there. Please feel free to join me in the comments section below.

Keep Bolting Toward Excellence!

Peter Thompson

 

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Tags: NFL Playoffs San Diego Chargers

  • http://www.standupforkids.org blackroseMD1

    I’d say Mathews probably licensed that “Superman leap” patent from LT.

    That win over KC was great…hopefully our D can start being an NFL defense, and Sunday’s win can work as a catalyst for the rest of the season.

    • Tazzster

      If only he was given the chance to Superman in Washington…. sigh
      On a positive note…. its doable. I think if they win 4 of the last 5 they got a shot. But Cincinatti first…. where we are one point favorites in Vegas.

  • Michael

    Ok,,,,Ill be Positive,,,,,Play offs here we come! GO BOLTS!!!!!

  • Sergio Quintero

    Hope Melvin Ingram makes a difference on D, if the defense can only be mediocre I like the chargers chances of 9 and 10 wins. Offense can be a 30 point per game team, if Mathews/Green/Ajirotutu see heavy playing time.

    • alejandro

      agree. I don’t want to see Brown starting WR. put Royal or tutu, depending on the best match. Continue to run Green-Gates formation.

  • arnie

    Pete. Winning, it fixes everything. The Chargers actually have a shot, if they continue to do what told them to do weeks ago. Find your playmakers, and get them the football. Often! If RM24 is having career day, KEEP GIVING HIM THE BALL. Gonna double Gates? Green TD’s all day jack! Can’t get separation? In ya go Tutu.
    To me it’s not even about getting to the playoffs. It’s about using the system you created to let the best football players rise to the top and help you win games. This not about hurting any players feelings, they are all professionals, and production speaks the loudest on who “should” play.

  • SoCalFan

    if we win against Bengals, actually interesting (and good for us) would be if Ravens wins the division. Bengals would need to play Pitt and Ravens after the game with Chargers. And if we win, might be better for us to compete with Bengals for a wild card. Loss to Miami was huge- I can see Kansas dropping 4 games but not all 5. I have Denver as the only loss for us…

  • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

    Good stuff Pete, I honestly think we posses the best QB of the group of teams tied with us and in the end it will be why we get in a shitty teams like the Dolphins and go away, we are better then any of them and most of them will keep loosing, all we have to do is a win a couple more and hope for some losses to the others.

  • Lee

    Green resembles Vernon Davis a lot. I think he’s a hybrid te/wr that can be lined up anywhere. Also tutu needs to replace brown real quick. And we also need to keep woody a charger for the rest of his career. Dude had 207 total yards on Sunday and he brings an element many teams don’t have and need

  • veazy

    Wow, the atmosphere doesn’t feel as shitty as it did the week before.

  • Bill Nichols

    Hell yes, the Chiefs lose the rest of the way, hey, how about the donkeys doing the same…? Then what? lol, but yes, this sorry ass defense just needs to show up a little bit, and that would push us over the edge for sure. Please, please, try to at least look like you are trying to tackle and cover someone, and we will be a’ ballin’…… Bolt Up!! Cincy get ready for a beat down..

  • Lewis Maddox

    Hey Peter, love the vibes.
    Any sense of how well our cuzzins across the pond are taking to the greatest sport known to mankind?
    I saw some things against KC that have given me cause for hope. The biggest being wideouts and TE’s making blocks.
    I think we had a third and five, it was either inside their twenty or thirty and was merely a quick throw to, I wanna say Royal cause it was that same quick throw that he’s been killin people on, where he just takes a step back from the line. I don’t think it was him though. Phillip barely got it past a defender, another defender was heading for the receiver and absolutely got pancaked by, somebody with a number in the eighties, I think. We picked up about seven, but without that block we probably would have only gotten four. No replay. The announcers were absorbed in a flag that hadn’t even been thrown. “Is that a flag? No, no flag.” No mention of that astounding block. I thought there would be a flag for actually killing a defender.
    That wasn’t the only instance of our receiving corps making blocks, giving themselves up the whole game. I’m jazzed because, on offense at least, guys are not worried about touches and stats. They look like they are just tired of three points. So am I.

    • Lewis Maddox

      Actually, I think a better term for that block was that the defender was decleated. That’s where the guy is nearly horizontal with neither foot touching the ground before landing on his back.
      Pancaked would have been if the defender was lying on his back and the blocker made the wrestling move of jumping on him while he is on his back, horizontally, like the next component in a stack of pancakes.

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      I have heard nothing but good response from my family in England regarding American football. Obviously, they are more into Premier League Football, but they do watch what they can of our football. Also, you figure that 80,000 people in a stadium is a pretty nice sized crowd.

      I was listening to a Roger Goodell interview when the 49ers went out there to play the Jags, and he said that the fans are getting much more knowledgeable about the game, now that they have had some time to absorb the rules, plays, and scoring system. They can digest what’s happening on the field better. One thing he said (that made me chuckle), is that they are getting better at “cheering, or not cheering at the appropriate times”. At first, the crowd would cheer, even when a particularly awful play was made. Or, when a roughing the passer penalty was called, or someone got hurt, etc. He said “Now the crowd has picked up on the game a little more, they aren’t just blindly reacting to whatever is happening on the field”. Which makes sense, and shows that they are showing more & more interest.

      As for that hit, I watched the game at a friend’s house, and he has A.D.D.!!!! He kept switching back and forth to the Carolina / Miami game every five friggin’ seconds, to check on his “fantasy stats”. So, I missed a few plays. I will be re-watching the game (as usual), and I will definitely look for that play.

      Not to knock fantasy football, or the people that are really into it… but, I wonder if some people realize how annoying they are to non-fantasy football people when they are doing that kind of crap. I missed almost the entire Raiders @ KC game in week 3, to watch an AWFUL Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay game, because “Atlanta is my fantasy defense, bro… I gotta see if I’m winning!!!”. Needless to say, he can watch football with his “fantasy friends” this Sunday. I will watch the ACTUAL game at home.. hahaha!

      • Lewis Maddox

        My best advice to you, Peter, is find an excuse to ditch that friend and his house on Sundays. Tell him it’s nothing personal. Fantasy football is destroying the traditional meaning of a fan and I like being a fan. I’ve been watching the Chargers since 1963 when my Dad took me to a game against the Jets in BALBOA

        • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

          Nice!!! I have been a fan since 81′ myself, when I was six years old. There’s a couple around here that have been fans as long as you. Thanks for reading, and commenting.. let’s send these Cincinnati Kittens packing! GO BOLTS!

  • OP Bolt

    Peter – This year hope is what separates us from, oh, let’s say Atlanta fans. One of the questions on the radio this week was “What does the KC win mean?” It only means one thing – this week’s game is critical, and if we win, then the next game is critical, etc. The Chargers have already entered into the single elimination universe as a result of their defensive follies throughout the year. They cannot focus on anything but the game in front of them, and because it is December, EVERY game is going to be a dogfight. The current week’s game is the only thing they can control.