The Chargers are now officially halfway through their bye week, and a lot of the talk so far has been focused on what the Chargers need to do, who needs to get cut, who needs to get signed, so on and so forth.
I should know; I jumped on that bandwagon yesterday.
I'm sure you're all tired of that, so let's look ahead at the next seven weeks of Charger football.
Here are 10 bold predictions for what the Chargers have in store for the remainder of the NFL regular season.
Sorry, Chargers fans, but the chance of seeing a patch like this on jerseys in San Diego is slim to none.
Yes, the Chargers are surging right now.
Yes, the rest of the AFC West is making it easier for the Chargers to make a move on another division title.
Yes, the Chargers may in fact win the division title.
Keeping all of that in mind though, just imagine what the playoffs will be like for them if they cannot fix the constant stream of mistakes that they seem to make every week.
The San Diego Chargers need to prove that they can play a mistake free game if they want to be considered for a Super Bowl berth, and right now, they aren't showing that they are capable of that.
Oh boy, this one is going to draw some heat.
Before you Oakland and Kansas City fans start lighting me up, hear me out on this one.
Kansas City is good. However, they have two things working against them:
- They lack a passing game (you cannot deny how important a good passing game is in big games)
- They seem to be having a harder time every week in putting together a complete game, especially on the road.
As for Oakland, I have to respect some of the wins that they have put up this year. However, I'm not sure if it can last (especially if Darren McFadden goes down to injury again), and their schedule does not get any easier.
It'll be a close one, but the Chargers may have what it takes down the stretch to pull this one out once again (not quite in the style of 2008, but almost as frustrating for Kansas City and Oakland fans).
I have to start this by saying, right off the bat, that I do not entirely blame Ryan Mathews for his lack of production.
First and foremost, it is very hard to thrust a rookie into the starting lineup from day one with those kinds of expectations stacked on him. Mathews is a good player, but the lack of development time and the pressure of rejuvenating the Chargers' rushing offense is a lot to handle.
Coupled with that has been the minor high ankle sprain that Mathews dealt with (and may still be dealing with). Running injured is no easy task.
And last, but not least, the point I seem to constantly harp on, is the fact that the Chargers just don't seem to be a team built to run the ball anymore. The offensive line doesn't seem to get into their blocks like they used to (back when the Chargers effectively ran a power running game), and Norv Turner is neglecting to use a traditional blocking fullback, opting for the hybrid back approach with Jacob Hester.
This doesn't mean Ryan Mathews doesn't have a bright future in front of him. It just means that all those Rookie of the Year predictions are pretty much wrong at this point.
Gone are the days when the AFC Pro Bowl roster was littered with Chargers.
At this point in the season, there are only two players (possibly three) on the San Diego roster that deserve to go to the Pro Bowl, and you all can probably guess who those two are.
Philip Rivers is the most obvious choice. Rivers is a stat monster, leading the league in passing yards at 2,944 yards, which puts him on pace to beat Dan Marino's single season passing record. The best part: most of the time Rivers has been missing his best receivers.
The other obvious choice is Antonio Gates. Gates is the leading receiver in San Diego, and he is an athletic phenomenon. He blocks well, runs routes well, has hands like fly paper; there is nothing that he doesn't do well. I wonder every week whether he is a tight end or a wide receiver; he's just that athletic.
The third possibility, who is sort of a dark horse candidate, is Mike Tolbert, the running back-fullback hybrid. He has really helped keep the Chargers' running game on track, and watching him run the football is just plain fun. His physical style of running is something that is truly missing in the NFL these days.
It's a bold statement to make, but let's be honest, what is stopping Rivers from getting there?
He passed for 295 yards against the Houston Texans without Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee, and Buster Davis.
Granted, the Texans are the worst passing defense in the league, but it doesn't seem like there is a team that can keep Rivers from getting there.
You have to feel bad for Mike Scifres. He's one of the best punters in the league, but he ends up on the ground week after week after week.
I know that Norv Turner came out and promised that there would be no more blocked punts this season, but do you really believe him?
Neither do I.
Two blocked punts sounds about right to me.
Even if he falls short of breaking Dan Marino's record, it's hard to see how Philip Rivers couldn't win the award.
Peyton Manning is obviously the one standing in the way, but, to me, it seems like Philip Rivers has been the one making the most out of difficult situations. Obviously this will be tested in the next seven weeks, but Rivers seems like the man right now.
Shaun Phillips has slowed down production wise since the Jacksonville game, but don't think that will keep him from posting at least three more sacks in the next seven games.
Phillips will likely be facing double team blocks when he is rushing, so it will be hard, but this guy is a true play maker, and the more Antwan Applewhite and Kentwan Barnes get in on the quarterback, the more teams will start to look away from him.
Most San Diego Chargers fans are probably scratching their heads wondering what happened to the old Darren Sproles, the one who was always a threat to take it to the house.
Darren Sproles has been completely ineffective in the return game this year, so it may be time for the Chargers to give someone else a chance. They're not short of capable replacements. After all, Patrick Crayton returned kicks in Dallas.
A quick note before I give a little explanation: I do not think that either of them will lose their jobs in season. The Chargers value continuity above most things.
That being said, Norv Turner and AJ Smith have come under a lot of fire this year, and their seats get hotter and hotter every time they lose a football game.
If the Chargers miss out on the playoffs, someone may suffer for it. If it doesn't happen this year, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say look out for next year, because heads will be rolling sometime soon.
The comments section beckons.
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