Power Outage: Will San Diego Make the Playoffs?

Eric GomezAnalyst IOctober 5, 2008

At five games into the 2007 NFL season, San Diego was staring at a 2-3 record and the very real possibility of missing the playoffs. One year later, the Bolts face the exact same situation after Week Five.

Last year, San Diego was able to get their act together in the second half of the season and finish 11-5. Charger fans are hoping this year will be no different.

So, what's changed about this team, compared to last year's? Why should San Diego fans be worried about January when there are 11 games remaining on the schedule?

Let's take a look.


There's actually a divisional race this season.

Last year, the Chargers could have made the playoffs sporting an 8-8 record, thanks to a shockingly weak AFC West.

Denver, Oakland, and Kansas City combined to win just 15 games in 2007, while San Diego alone won 13, including the playoffs. This season, the Broncos are 4-1, having beaten the Chargers in their first meeting.

While the Raiders and Chiefs figure to battle for a top five spot in the draft, San Diego can't rely on a late burst to make the playoffs with a competent rival in their own division.


They have a tough stretch of games coming up.

These are the next three games for the Chargers: vs. New England, at Buffalo, at New Orleans (in London, England). The combined record for those teams stands at 9-3.

At 2-3, San Diego can't afford to win fewer than two of those three games, lest risk themselves falling further back in the division.


"Martyball" has returned at times this season.

Conservative play calling on offense and defense has been a large part of the games against Carolina, Oakland, and Miami. Two of those games resulted in losses for San Diego.

With LaDainian Tomlinson is still not at 100 percent, and SD boasting weapons like Antonio Gates, Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, and Darren Sproles, it makes absolutely no sense that the Chargers would rely on running the ball in key situations at this time.

Despite throwing the ball 28 times against running it 19 against the Dolphins, San Diego ran it three of four plays on a key series of downs that began at the Dolphins' 10-yard-line.

San Diego was stopped on 4th-and-goal—on a run.


Remember Shawne Merriman?

After losing Merriman to season-ending knee injury in Week One, the Chargers have struggled mightily to put pressure on opposing QBs.

San Diego defensive personnel have recorded only 11 sacks in five games. Six of those sacks came against the Raiders in Week Four.

The Chargers have also struggled to create turnovers and stop the run. All of these are areas that Merriman excelled at.


Sure, it's been only five weeks, but San Diego has lost three winnable games, their biggest defensive performer is out for the season, they have yet to recoup their star RB at his full potential, and they have looked weak on defense in key situations.

Will history repeat itself?