After playing on Thursday night and getting a much-needed victory over the AFC West rival Denver Broncos, the San Diego Chargers were able to sit back and relax for a few days before getting back to the grind on Monday. What this provided for fans is the opportunity to scoreboard watch with their team not in action and much help needed to pave the Bolts’ path to the postseason. Unfortunately that activity didn’t end nearly as well as the team’s effort at Mile High on Thursday evening.
A path to the playoffs didn’t exactly seem like an easy map to draw even after the victory over the Broncos, but trying to find a route got even more difficult given the Miami Dolphins’ win on Sunday. If there was one thing Bolts’ fans thought they could bank on this week it was that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots would take care of business to aid their cause. Ryan Tannehill and his impressive fourth quarter performance had other ideas, however, as the Fins upped their probability of playing football in January instead.
This now puts the Chargers in a very difficult position even without playing a down over the weekend. Two wins were the only possible formula to the postseason in the first place, but now that pair of victories will have to be accompanied by two Miami losses to break the team’s three-year playoff drought. The Dolphins face the Buffalo Bills next week in the elements, but E.J. Manuel has really been struggling in recent weeks. Couple that with the fact that the Fins end the season at home against Geno Smith and the sorry New York Jets and that makes things even more difficult.
Not all is lost for these Chargers given that their other direct competition, the Baltimore Ravens, don’t play until Monday night, but the head-to-head loss to the Dolphins in a tight contest back in Week 11 is really looming large right about now. That tiebreaker forces the Bolts to finish one full game ahead of the fish, and that forces them to rely on other teams rather than just their own performance.
Even though you have to love the energy and enthusiasm that the locker room seems to have under the watch of head coach Mike McCoy, fans need to realize that this is a process that takes time to ultimately get to the team’s goals. Quarterback Philip Rivers is the perfect example of just how far this team has come in 12 months as his comments to NFL Network said it all following the team’s win on Thursday when he said:
“We knew nobody gave us a chance, and nobody should have given us a chance either if you were outside of our locker room. But we came in with a lot of confidence. We had won five of the last seven here. We said let’s go play our best game and get another one and stay alive. Let’s stay alive and see what happens.”
Staying alive is exactly what the win in Denver did for the Chargers, but that life may be short-lived given the current outlook in the AFC.