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Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

Chargers Playoff Hopes Update

It took me a while to realize the implication of the analysis in my previous post – that it didn’t matter that the Cowboys beat Kansas City. The Chargers still have to win all three of their tough remaining games, including the one at KC, which would have evened out the Dallas game. If Dallas had beaten Denver on Thanksgiving Day – now that would have really helped.

Still, I think there’s a psychological advantage to being second in the AFC West through the week. Dropping to third would be discouraging to the Chargers players. If you’re in second, you can still feel like you’re a contender. And this might be really significant, because this season San Diego has lost five games by a total of 14 points, and you could look at each game and say that the Chargers lost by mental errors as much as anything else. You want to hope that they’re learning from these mistakes, but the Miami loss speaks against that. I still think last Sunday’s game was lost due to a coaching error – going for it on 4th and 8 and on 4th and 6, both times in the first half. It outraged Miami. They came out from the locker room after half time a completely different team, and the Chargers weren’t mentally prepared for the ensuing onslaught.

I checked the NFL tiebreaking rules, and the Chargers would win the AFC West if we win the remaining three games and Denver loses either against Buffalo or Oakland, thanks to their previous loss to KC. We would tie in games played head-to-head but prevail with our record within the division. Oakland doesn’t have a prayer at Invesco Field, and Buffalo is now 4 and 9, having lost the last 4, and is eliminated from playoff contention. The Vegas line is Denver by 8.5 points. Hrrmmph.

So I look to the Pittsburgh – Minnesota game. Minnesota has won the last six and is fighting for a wildcard slot, but they’re only 17th in run defense against Pitt’s 9th ranked running offense, and Minnesota is only 21st in overall offense. So it’s not surprising that the bookies are giving a 3-point advantage to Pittsburgh. Tough. I be rooting for you this weekend, Vikings!

Of course, we still need to win all our remaining games. This weekend we face the undefeated Indianapolis Colts. The big question is whether Indy will field their stars now that they’ve clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but Marty thinks they will, and I agree that they will start them. But we have to scare them into taking the stars out early. With our number 1 rushing defense, Peyton Manning will have to throw the ball more, and since our secondary is weak, we need Merriman, Castillo, Olshansky and Foley to get in there and rough him up. If we can get a couple of sacks in the first quarter, maybe they’ll pull Manning.

This is the must-win game of the season that will define the 2005 San Diego Chargers. If we can beat Indianapolis on their turf, we will finally be showing that we can meet our potential. We’re 7.5-point underdogs. Go Bolts!

Posted by Greg as Football at 05:35 PST

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