November 18, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Well, it’s that time again. It’s time to take a look at the Charger’s position in the NFL.com power rankings after week 9. The rankings were released today, and I had to peek at them through my fingers, while bracing for the worst. To my surprise, the Chargers only fell two spots from #11, to #13. That isn’t too bad, is it? We have seen teams rise & fall anywhere up to 12 positions in just a week this season! So, I was expecting to end up between the 15th and 20th spot, for some reason.
NFL.com hasn’t been that kind to the Chargers over the years, especially in the power rankings. At least someone (besides us) still thinks we are a top 13 team. That isn’t saying a lot, but I’m not complaining too much. I can’t say that any of the teams above us don’t deserve to be where they are at. We are still ranked higher than the Jets, The Titans, and the Dolphins, which is nice to see. All of those teams are above us in the playoff standings right now. Is NFL.com actually showing some love for the Chargers? I keep expecting to see pigs flying past my window.
There are 5 AFC teams ranked above us this week. Those teams are the Broncos, the Chiefs, the Colts, the Patriots, and the Bengals. We actually play 5 games against three of those teams in the next 8 weeks. We play Denver twice, KC twice, and the Bengals at home, which says a lot about the difficulty of our schedule. As for the other two teams, we beat the Colts already, and don’t play the Patriots. It doesn’t necessarily matter too much anyway, as all of those teams are pretty much expected to win their divisions, or lock up the 5th seed (in Denver & KC’s case). There probably won’t be too much movement for those teams over the next few weeks. We still might break the top ten if we keep winning, and Green Bay falls due to Aaron Rogers being sidelined. Perhaps Carolina, The Lions, or Bears take a nosedive? It’s hard to say, and really not that important.
What IS important is how we play at home against Denver this weekend. This stadium is going to be packed with Charger & Denver fans alike. It will be one heck of a game (I hope). Denver will be the toughest team we have faced yet! If it makes you feel any better, we beat the 3rd ranked team (The Colts) at home, and held them to a measly 9 points. Along with home field advantage, the absence of John Fox, and the Broncos coming off of their bye week, the Chargers might actually be able to hand the Broncos a loss.
It would be a division win, a conference win, and would show the San Diego faithful that this team isn’t ready to roll over just yet. It would also show the NFL that we could contend with any team, should we make the playoffs. With a little luck, perhaps Donald Butler returns, and we will regain some much needed firepower on defense. The path to the playoffs runs through our division, and starts here. We need to control our own destiny, and we play 5 divisional games over the next 8 weeks. That is crazy!
Players & coaches will always say that they aren’t focused on what anyone else is doing, and that they just need to take it one game at a time. Fortunately for us, we are not either of those things, so we can focus on what the other wild card contenders are doing. We will all be keeping a close eye on the Titans, and the Dolphins. Unfortunately, both teams play the only two winless teams left in the league (talk about bad luck). The Titans host the Jaguars, and the Dolphins travel to Tampa Bay on Monday night. I am nicknaming this game the “Florida Flogging”, as you can flog a pirate, or a dolphin. I think that should cover my bases, no matter who wins. As for the Jags playing the Titans on the road? Let’s just say I don’t see Chad Henne picking apart Tennessee’s defense, or MJD running the ball down their throats. I fully expect the Titans to be in the final playoff spot on Sunday, with a 4-2 conference record. The Dolphins will remain at a 3-3 conference record, even with a victory over Tampa Bay.
The Jets are on a bye week, so we could actually pull ahead of them with a win this weekend. Our records would be the same, but they are just 2-4 in the conference. We would be 3-3 with a victory over Denver. For now, the Chargers can stay in the race by beating the Broncos. They probably won’t take back the final spot, unless Tampa Bay & Jacksonville suddenly find a way to get their first win of the season. But, as they say.. Stranger things have happened.
Keep Bolting Toward Excellence!