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Saturday, November 18th, 2006

2006 Chargers Playoff Hopes – Week 10

I haven’t had much time to write about the San Diego Chargers this season. Hell, I haven’t had much time to watch the games, nor to write. It’s time to start changing that.

I see that I haven’t posted about the Chargers since my preseason prediction on 11 August. That’s a pity, since I really got into the swing of things last year, and this year I had hoped to better. But things are as they are. Although I’ve been voraciously consuming all sorts of oddsmaking, power rankings and sports writing in the meantime, I haven’t made the time to cackle with glee over how I foresaw a much better outcome by this point in the NFL season than most of the pros.

Due to personal, geography/broadcast and travel problems, I’ve missed watching a lot of Chargers games so far. In fact, I’ve been dismayed to notice that, prior to last week’s game against Cincinnati, the Chargers’ season record was 5-0 when I didn’t watch the game, and 1-2 when I did. True, some of those missed games were given low priority because they were against easy opponents; and I listened to them on the radio as best as I could, trying to keep AM radio tuned in as I drove across various deserts. Was I a jinx? The Bengals game ended that thought, even if I had to wonder that watching might in fact be hazardous to my health. (Note to self – cut down on the trans fats!) I’ve been comforted by the thought that I know these players and how they move – that I can see in my mind’s eye what they look like when they’re making the moves that I can only hear or see on the NFL.com game summary.

So here we are with a 7-2 record, the day before Week 11. Tomorrow, the Chargers go to Denver to play the Broncos in one of the most important games of the season, hoping for a win against an opponent that knows us all too well in a place that seems to be cursed for us. The Chargers are the highest scoring team in the league, going up against the team that has allowed the fewest points. It’s going to be a great game, and we’ve got Al Michaels and John Madden to provide commentary – the best coverage out there. But we’re doing it without Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo, and maybe an up-to-par Eric Parker – putting the onus on our improved-but-still-weak secondary against Javon Walker – and Marlon McCree, the secondary’s leader, has still to be sensitive about the criticism he got from the mis-read hit he put on wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh last week. The Broncos offense doesn’t have a great scoring record, and quarterback Jake Plummer has been inconsistent, but the battle for points in this game is going to be tight.

Since Madden knows the true value of how well our offensive line – Mike Goff, Shane Olivea, Nick Hardwick, Kris Dielman, and Marcus McNeill – has been performing, and since he has to be the number one fan of our defensive tackle, Jamal Williams, I’m going to expect that his commentary is going to be colored in favor of the Chargers. I’ve noticed that a lot of pro writers have come out predicting a Chargers win, despite the average 2.5 point line favoring Denver. But odds are determined by public opinion, and on any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team – especially in this decade’s AFC. Public opinion can be wrong. This game is going to be a meat grinder. This game, like so many others, will hinge on turnovers, and San Diego seems to have finally learned how to take that to their advantage. I kind of like that San Diego is going into it as the underdogs – in our rebirth 2004 season, we often did best as the underdog. Since I expect that the AFC Championship game is going to be San Diego vs. New England, which we will win handily – I expect that this game will be the most pivotal in the AFC this year.

Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself. This post is titled “Playoff Hopes”, remember? There’s just no way to under-emphasize what this game means. A San Diego loss would mean that that Denver advances to clear leadership of the AFC West division, and with the divisional record and a relatively easy schedule remaining for them, they would take the West, even if San Diego wins the rest of their games. That puts San Diego into the position of getting into the playoffs as a wild card, and maybe having to play Denver at Denver again, where the loss would but them at a distinct psychological disadvantage. But a win changes everything. We take the West for now, and with our undefeated home record, we can hold on to it. If Baltimore and New England stumble just once each during the rest of the season, we’ll slide into a bye for the first week of the playoffs and face whoever puts the Indianapolis Colts into their place. I think it will be the Patriots, but I hope it’s the Ravens. We’ve played them before, lost, and redefined the team in accordance. That redefinition will take us to the Superbowl.

Can we beat Chicago or the NY Giants? I think the question is whether we can beat them by less than 14 points. My dream Superbowl this year, let me say it now, is going up against Drew Brees and the Saints. That game would be tough – Drew knows us even better than the Broncos. Although San Diego General Manager A. J. Smith has been proven right more often than wrong (I still chafe at passing up on safety Troy Polamalu), giving up Brees will be the defining point of his career. So far, after anointing Philip Rivers as the San Diego quarterback, I’ll continue to place my confidence in A. J.

Back to tomorrow. Let me pull out this thing – what is it? Oh, a crystal ball! I rub; the smoke forms, then clears – whoa! San Diego 27, Denver 21. Cool! Did I mention Nate Kaeding?

Posted by Greg in Football, Posts About Me

1 Comment »

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 18th, 2006 at 12:04 PST and is filed under Football, Posts About Me. You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “2006 Chargers Playoff Hopes – Week 10”

  1. Techno-tard says:

    AJ Smith was also the architect behind the Manning for Rivers plus 3 trade, which netted us Shawne Merriman. Talk about a good deal! We got the better quarterback and a pro-bowl caliber defensive lineman that we desperately needed. As far as letting Brees go, I was very against it at the time, but I stand corrected. I still dig Drew, but I’m a Rivers fan as well. And Eli will hopefully be watching us in the post season during his off season.