Charged Up: Dallas Cowboys and Chargers Face-Off for Respect, Playoffs

Eric GomezAnalyst IDecember 12, 2009

CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 06:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers talks to head coach Norv Turner during their game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 6, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

When Dean Spanos, A.J. Smith and Co. are giving out the annual team awards during the offseason next season, hopefully they consider this suggestion seriously:

For your consideration: The Cleveland Browns for team MVP.

Not only did they extend the Chargers' winning streak (despite Ron Rivera and his patchwork defense's greatest efforts), but beating the Steelers on Thursday?


Since 2005, the Chargers are 1-4 against the defending champions, and avoiding them completely in the postseason would definitely be nothing short of a coup for Norv Turner's boys.

By the way, since 2005, the Chargers are 4-1 against the Indianapolis Colts.

However, the Bolts would be unwise to be thinking about those ifs and maybes, especially when they have such a huge game in front of them this weekend.

The Chargers will stroll into Big D to take on Jerry and Wade's boys in a big game with playoff implications for several teams in both the AFC and NFC.

While much of the hard-hitting analysis leading up to the game has been focused on whether punter Mike Scifres will hit the huge TV hanging from the roof of the stadium, surely the brunt of the focus must be on the other things.

Like, for example, will the Chargers be able to pressure Tony Romo enough to transform him from "Tony Romo, media darling and Pro Bowl QB," into "Tony Romo, guy who can't hold extra points, excessive party-goer and guy who's 5-8 in December and January?"

Is there any way San Diego stifles Dallas' running attack without Jamal Williams clogging up the middle?

How much useful inside information does Wade Phillips still have about San Diego's defensive scheme and offensive personnel?

Will Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo be effective coming back from injury?

Furthermore, when will Nick Hardwick and Eric Weddle be back? Will Shaun Phillips play?

Will LT be able to rush for more than 50 yards, prompting every homer from San Ysidro to Riverside to shout "LT'S BACK!!!!?"

Then there's this perception plaguing both clubs in the eyes of the national media, who deride the teams' solid seasons, citing poor opposition.

The winner of this match-up should definitely get their share of respect going into Monday morning.

If Dallas comes out on top, they'll be cited for halting San Diego's potent aerial attack and Wade Phillips will be in the clouds after having out-coached Norv Turner, the former Cowboys offensive coordinator.

If the Chargers win, the ridiculous win streak in December stretches to 16, they retain a comfortable lead over Denver in the AFC West, and they go back home to play against Cincinnati and, quite possibly, the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

San Diego's already got a slight advantage going into Sunday, as the dark clouds have gathered quicker than usual over the Cowboys.

With last week's loss to the Giants, Wade Phillips has drawn the ire of fans and owner Jerry Jones alike, who might be searching for a new head coach despite Wade's 30-13 record in Dallas.

And if there's one thing we've learned over the years from the 'Boys is that Phillips and Romo alike buckle at the first sign of trouble.

Meanwhile, around the league...

The Oakland Raiders have a chance to break their season-high winning streak, which currently stands at a lofty one game.

On paper, it should be an attainable task, as they play the Redskins. But, as the Saints learned last week, nothing's a given with Washington.

Now that the Browns have won their second game of the season, the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft (Tim Tebow, right? What's this? I've lost all credibility? Oh.) has the 1-11 Rams and Buccaneers fighting it out.

With games against the Falcons and the Saints still remaining, Tampa Bay looks like the probable "winner."

What's next for Chad Ochocinco? I suggest he tweet while scoring a touchdown. It'd probably go something like this:

@OGOchoCinco: I caught it... runnin down the 40...30...20...I could go...all...the way! lolz I can't wait for my fine.