Los Angeles Chargers prepare for January football

The Los Angeles Chargers head to Week 17 with everything to play for. The prize is the AFC West title and an AFC first-round bye.

The final game of the NFL season is almost here. As the Chargers prepare for January football their conference rivals are themselves scouting terabytes of playing film.  Anthony Lynn has torn up the conservative rule book since his appointment by the Chargers. Wins in London, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Kansas City paint a different outlook on Chargers football. Coach Lynn’s positive attitude toward the game is welcome. Aggressive football is evident in the 2018 season.

Lynn’s predecessors may have sent out the field goal unit in the Week15 game at Arrowhead Stadium. Instead, the Chargers offense lined up for the two-point conversation and they executed with panache.

A refined Chargers football team is not perfect but it continues to show heart and courage. It shows character to defend a slender lead on your own one-yard line, deep into the fourth quarter. It’s difficult to ignore a team able to repeat clutch plays when so much is at stake.

Playoff fog

The playoff picture has the Chargers in it, after that it’s anyone’s guess what happens.

The Chargers can’t control the outcome of the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. A Chiefs win on Sunday will give them a first-round bye. For Lynn, It’s a case of looking after your team. They’ll do what they’ve done all season and take one game at a time.

A fifth-seed scenario will send the Bolts on a road game. Scenarios could see them traveling to Pittsburgh or Baltimore, that’s if the Houston Texans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. Chargers official website Managing Editor Ricky Henne talks through the permutations.

One game at a time

What’s clear is the Bolts can not afford to rest their key players on Sunday. Fast starts haven’t been a strength of the 2018 Chargers.

They’ve got to go out to win and putting points on the board early in Denver might ease anxieties. Philip Rivers has had a great season. He took a beating in the defeat to Baltimore but I expect him to bounce back on Sunday. Rivers spoke to the media, addressing a question on team confidence.

“There will be no lost confidence with this group. There’s only one thing that’s crossed off, one more game to add to the slate (possibly) to win the whole thing. That’s all that we know. I know it’s disappointing, but we can’t wallow in our disappointment very long”, via Chargers.com

Case Keenum has been sacked 33 times, but the only team not to have sacked him in 2018 is the Chargers. Rushing the passer will be a key to victory. The Bolts’ defense sacked Lamar Jackson three times IN the Week 16 defeat, a similar total in Denver would be welcome.

One player who might make the difference is having a blast in his inaugural NFL season.

Rookie Derwin James is a quality addition to the Chargers’ roster. No.33 has the potential to become a football legend. Jason La Canfora, writing for cbssports.com sums up James’ impact beautifully.

“He is a do-everything safety who has lifted every aspect of the Los Angeles defense. There seems to be nothing he can’t do, including get to the quarterback and force turnovers. He will be showcased in the postseason as the Chargers have to face the possibility of running a gauntlet of QBs that could include Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. He may be the Defensive Rookie of the Year already.”

In Week 11 the 6-9 Denver Broncos had a surprising win at StubHub Center. Head coach Vance Joseph will do everything in his power to ensure his team hands the Chargers a second defeat in as many weeks, ending the Broncos’three-gamee losing streak in the process.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport tweeted that the Broncos will be without the impressive rookie Phillip Lindsey.

January football is a  step in the right direction

Don‘t underestimate an 11-4 record. Chargers football seems to be heading in the right direction.

The NFL is hugely competitive, it’s a very different league from when the 1972 Miami Dolphins steamrolled their way through the league to lift the Lombardi Trophy undefeated.

Hold on tight, the next couple of weeks could be a bumpy ride. The Bolts are literally charging forward hoping to write themselves into the history books.