Charged Up | Which Playoff Matchup Benefits Chargers The Most?

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Charged Up | Which Playoff Matchup Benefits Chargers The Most?
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As I watched Jim Zorn's Washington Redskins lose to the Chargers JV squad on Sunday, I couldn't help thinking about what must've been going through ol' Jim's head.

Across the field, on the opposing sideline, stood Norv Turner, whose team's (as well his own) reputation is starting to grow on both sides of the Mississippi.

Norv was once in Jim's shoes, fired by impetuous 'Skins owner Daniel Snyder, disregarded in most NFL circles as nothing more than a good offensive mind who nevertheless wasn't fit to run a team as a head coach.

Jim was probably thinking, "yeah, I can see how that could be me...wait, how long did it take Norv to land that cushy job and finally be respected by his peers? Crap."

Speaking of Snyder, I don't know if he was present at the game on Sunday, or if he was tempted to buy Legoland or Sea World in the event he came to San Diego, but I wonder if he's a little bitter at the Chargers for turning two of his former hires into playoff coaches.

Marty Schottenheimer was dissed after just one season in D.C., then turned the Bolts around and led them to the post-season twice in five years.

At that point, I'm guessing Snyder was more concerned that the Chargers would follow Marty up with Steve Spurrier and Fun N' Gun their way to the Lombardi trophy than them hiring, oh, I don't know, Norv Turner?

Technically, Charged Up as an entity has never been guilty of Norv bashing, although the writer behind the column definitely has .

Still, it was hard to argue with me then, and, despite the stellar run in 2009, I think most football fans can agree that until the Chargers and Turner (and A.J. Smith) deliver a Super Bowl championship, a humble attitude is the right one.

After all, Norv isn't running the ball up the middle on every first-and-10 anymore.

On January 17th at the Q, the Chargers could face anyone except the Colts (duh) or the Ravens, due to Baltimore's No. 6 seed.

With that in mind, Turner, Ron Rivera, and the boys are no doubt preparing for either the Jets' stingy D, the Bengals' tail-spinning but talented club, or the Patriots' wealth of playoff experience.

Here's what to expect from either one of those clubs and why that match-up could be potentially favorable or dangerous for the Chargers.

 

New England

The sun seems to be setting on football's latest dynasty, and coming into the playoffs this season, they're aging, banged up, and seemingly out-gunned by most of the other contenders—oh, sorry...this is what I wrote back in 2006.

They're dangerous. They always are. You don't think Belichick has tricks under his sleeve? The only player that can truly cripple the Patriots by not being there is Tom Brady.

Not Wes Welker. Not Richard Seymour. Not Randy Moss. It's Brady.

The Bolts turned the ball over four times in their 2006-07 playoff game against the Patriots and then weren't able to get it into the end zone in the 2007-08 AFC Championship game.

Luckily for San Diego, there won't be much of a pass rush against Philip Rivers, and Tom Brady won't have much of a running game to set up the long ball.

Air Norvelous can dictate the pace of the game through Rivers, Vicent Jackson, and Antonio Gates, leading to a Charger victory.

 

Cincinnati

Again, they're dangerous, they're emotional, and I don't think that 37-0 loss to the Jets was completely caused by, say, a New York manhandling of Marvin Lewis' boys.

Antonio Cromartie was burned by Chad Ochocinco earlier this season for a long TD pass.

Don't let that happen again.

The Bengals have shied away from the run, but if they decide to establish it against San Diego in the playoffs, it could be a weapon.

Their solid defense didn't match well against the Chargers potent passing attack, and San Diego's four-headed monster (admittedly, more Elmo than Frankenstein) in LT, Sproles, Tolbert, and Hester were effective on the ground.

Get them off the field quickly, and kill them through the air.

 

New York Jets

An intriguing probability, to say the least.

The Jets boast the best defense in the league, although their penchant for stopping the run doesn't really apply against the Chargers. The better question is, do they have good jumpers?

Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd's 6'5", Antonio Gates' 6'4", and Legedu Naanee's 6'2" statures create match-up problems for anybody. No one's been close to stopping them so far.

The Chargers aren't as explosive on defense as Gang Green are, but Mark Sanchez usually generates enough defensive highlights for the opposing team.

And that's where the crux of the battle would lie: the turnover battle.

Go ahead and pad your stats, Cro.

All leading to a Chargers win and an AFC Championship berth either in Indianapolis or here at home, right? Like everyone at Charger Park (and everyone in Norman Lear's famed sitcom), take it one day at a time.

Meanwhile, around the league...

Rick Reilly wrote a column praising Norv Turner. He doesn't work for Sports Illustrated anymore, right? No long-standing association with the Madden cover? Phew.

Charlie Weis took Kansas City's offensive coordinator job. So, praised offensive coordinator at New England leads to head coach job at Notre Dame leads to offensive coordinator job at Kansas City leads to quarterbacks coach at Anchorage High in Alaska?

Tom Brady won the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award.

Aww.

What a heartwarming story, with the scrappy, three-time Super Bowl winning, Gisele Bundchen marrying, Entourage cameo-having, advertisement and cover boy modeling, sure-fire Hall of Famer entering underdog at the center of it.

Aww.

Mike Shanahan became coach of the Washington Redskins. Immediately after I read about it, a pop-up ad featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales went up on my screen.

Later on in the day, I saw Sarah Jessica Parker's poster for that movie with Hugh Grant.

A rare horse-face trifecta.

Speaking of Hugh, he was quoted as saying that Sarah eats "like a horse."

I'm starting to warm up to British humor.

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