Brace yourself. The 9-3 Los Angeles Chargers season finale is going to be a roller coaster.
The Chargers weren’t going to win in Cleveland, Seattle or Pittsburgh. Anthony Lynn and his team had other ideas. Chargers fans are in unfamiliar territory – they’re watching an exciting football team, capable of a deep playoff run. Rich Eisen’s tweet encapsulates the way in which the Bolts are playing. The Chargers mean business, their destiny is in their own hands.
If you don’t like Philip Rivers, you just don’t like liking things.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) December 3, 2018
Shawne Merriman spoke spoke to team reporter Chris Hayre and he gave his take on the team’s win in Pittsburgh.
“I don’t know what was said during halftime, but they came out (and) made those adjustments … Only championship teams do things like that. When you go out and make those kind of adjustments after the first half that they had, they’re coming out – only championship teams do things like that. So, you can tell in their play that they’re confident, not just because they’re dancing to music and things like that, but they believed in each other and that’s what you’re going to need to win going forward.”
Chargers’ road ahead
Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)
The Bengals are on a four-game skid. During that run they suffered a heavy 51-14 defeat to the New Orleans Saints. They also lost to the Cleveland Browns. Marvin Lewis gave Hue Jackson an olive branch but the recent appointment hasn’t worked out.
The Bengals have given up 371 points. To put that into context, the Oakland Raiders are ranked 31st in the league, having given up 367 points. Sunday’s game provides an excellent opportunity for the Chargers’ offense to wrack up their numbers. Carlos Dunlap is listed as questionable. The 29-year-old pass rusher has seven sacks on the season.
At Kansas City Chiefs (10-2)
The Chiefs have probably got this game marked off as a ‘W’. The challenge of playing at Arrowhead Stadium is tough, the Bolts will need to up their game once more. Joey Bosa and Derwin James might just be the duo that disrupts a potent Chiefs offense.
Andy Reid’s offense will not look the same without Kareem Hunt but Patrick Mahomes has had an amazing season. Mahomes has an incredible 41 passing touchdowns on the season, including six against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tyreek Hill has had an incredible season. Mahomes has targeted him 100 times. Hill has 66 receptions for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Mahomes-Hill combination has moved the chains an impressive 17 yards per reception.
Dee Jones and Chris Ford have been a quarterback’s nightmare. The pass rushers have 10.5 and 10 sacks, respectively. The Chiefs have a combined total of 39 sacks on the season. The Chargers O-line will be busy. Bob Sutton is under pressure as the defensive coordinator. He’s watched his team give up 84 points in their last two games.
Baltimore Ravens (7-5)
The Ravens have had their problems at quarterback. Joe Flacco, rookie Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III have all played under center. Baltimore lists Jackson as probable for the game against the Chiefs on Sunday. Jackson has carried the ball 82 times for 404 yards. John Harbaugh may have to reign in his rookie in before he gets hurt coming out of the pocket.
Alex Collins has carried the football 114 times for 411 yards and seven touchdowns, though he now sits on injured reserve. John Brown, Willie Snead and Michael Crabtree have combined for 1,692 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Veteran Terrell Suggs had a productive game in the 26-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Suggs and Za’Darius Smith each have 6.5 sacks on the season.
The Ravens have done well to keep the offense at bay, allowing 214 points. They shut out the Tennessee Titans and held the Bufallo Bills to three points. No other team has given up fewer points in the league than Baltimore.
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At Denver Broncos (6-6)
The Broncos are back in the playoff picture after three straight wins. Denver surprised many with wins against the Chargers and the Steelers which turned their season around. Denver have converted 34.7 percent of their third-down conversations.
Case Keenum has been sacked 28 times, he’s 256-of-411 for 2,953 yards and 14 passing touchdowns. Denver’s standout guy is rookie Phillip Lindsay, who has rushed for 937 yards on 154 carries. Lindsay found the end zone twice in Denver’s Week 11 win against the Chargers.
Veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders is on injured. after suffering a torn Achilles in Wednesday’s practice. That’s a big loss for Denver.
Over to the Bolts
So there we have it. Would anyone bet against the Chargers needing a win in Denver to clinch the AFC West Division? Stranger things have happened in football.
Coach Lynn is getting his pieces together week-by-week. Bosa has impressed since his return. Brandon Mebane looks like he’ll be available for Week 14. The Chargers family will pray for a Melvin Gordon return in Week 15. Thursday Night Football could be another rollercoaster ride. It’s all to play for.