Numbers can very often be misleading at best and downright untruthful at their worst. Heck, the San Diego Chargers themselves were behind seven teams – including the lowly Oakland Raiders – following a Week 11 loss to fall to 4-6 in the chase for a playoff berth. They even needed both the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins to lose their final two games while the Bolts won to make the field.
So admittedly, numbers don’t always tell the entire story.
But this particular stat is very telling as far as the AFC Playoff field is concerned. Let’s just take a gander at how the six teams vying for the AFC’s spot in Super Bowl XLVIII fared against one another during the regular season:
You see that? That’s right; those once desperate Chargers actually have the second-best record of the AFC teams vying for a place in New Jersey come early February. Yes, one of those losses did come against their opposition for this weekend in the Bengals, but they didn’t even give up one touchdown to Andrew Luck’s Colts, took down the Chiefs both at home and on the road, and actually beat Peyton Manning’s Broncos at Mile High.
Many may still want to discount Philip Rivers and the Chargers in this playoff party, but that would be a huge mistake by the masses. This team didn’t just get in because of a fluky penalty that was missed by an officiating crew. Ryan Mathews has been running his tail off down the stretch when the Bolts needed him most with four straight outings of 24 carries or more including his best game of the bunch in Week 17 as he went for 144 yards on 24 totes.
Four straight wins to close out the regular season is no fluke, and the defense has been giving up yards but not many points with just 17.6 points per game being surrendered by the Bolts in the month of December. Though luck has certainly played a role in the Chargers getting all the stars to align for a spot in the postseason, it clearly hasn’t been the only reason the team finds itself in this position.
You can discount the playoff viability of these Bolts all you want, but the fact remains that in a survive and advance format, they seem to have it down to a science.