The season is still young, but the peaks and valleys have already been many for the San Diego Chargers. Starting out with an epic collapse and then alternating wins and losses throughout the campaign, the Bolts have been both impressive and disappointing all at the same time. Currently it would be difficult to paint this team as anything more than a walking contradiction, but could these Chargers under a new head coach make the playoffs for the first time since 2009 this season?
Expectations were anything but optimistic for Mike McCoy when he assumed the reigns as the man in charge for the Bolts. Norv Turner’s tenure filled with mediocrity left the bar already ridiculously low for the new man on the sidelines in San Diego, but the talent cupboard wasn’t completely bare.
Quarterback Philip Rivers has had a rough go of it the past two seasons, but there’s no denying his ability to lead a football team. He has still had a bit of a parabolic showing this year with 400-plus yard performances backed up by sub-200 yard showings or turnover-laden outings, but it’s clear this roster has more talent than many gave it credit for in the preseason.
While 3-3 may not scream ‘playoff team’ at this juncture of the season, the AFC really is a conference of mediocrity. Aside from the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos – conveniently also in the AFC West – there isn’t a great deal of competition. Plus it’s easy to argue that the Bolts should be at least 4-2 if not 5-1 at this point. The only game they’ve lost that wasn’t decided in the final minutes was the Week 5 embarrassment against the Oakland Raiders.
In the cloudy AFC, the New England Patriots at 5-1 are obviously the cream of the AFC East. Currently, the Indianapolis Colts, a team the Bolts just defeated, are 4-2 and in sole possession of the AFC South lead. The entire AFC North reeks of mediocrity with pretty much every team in the hunt, but the Cincinnati Bengals currently lead the way at 4-2.
In the early race for the Wild Card, the Miami Dolphins hold the advantage only because they have had their bye week already and stand at 3-2. Both the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets are currently at 3-3 like the Bolts, but no one in their right mind expects them to be in the mix come December. Along with Miami, the two teams likely to be in the fight until the end are the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens as well as the Tennessee Titans, who hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over San Diego.
When asked if he looks around the league and examines the playoff scenarios for his team, coach McCoy was quite curt with his response saying:
“No. We’re worried about the Jacksonville Jaguars.”
It may still be a long shot, but the Chargers have proven capable of playing with just about anyone thus far this season. Obviously their divisional games with Denver and Kansas City will tell us a lot more about their chances of remaining in the conversation when the chill of winter is in the air, but until then don’t count the Bolts out for an unexpected shot at playing postseason football this January.