When the Chargers went 4-8, I was stunned, truly stunned. A team with their kind of talent was just playing horribly, and I believed that they were over and done with. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson did not have the spark he once had, whether it was due to injury or age.
Quarterback Philip Rivers, however, really impressed me. For a team that is thought to rely solely on the running game, it was throwing a lot of touchdowns. Philip Rivers threw for more touchdowns in a single season than Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts did. Fouts had 33 touchdowns with a team that had a passing attack of another world at that time. Philip Rivers comes in and throws 34 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions compared to Fout's 17.
Philip Rivers was not even selected to the Pro Bowl, which shows how much this Chargers team was seen as a failure because LaDainian Tomlinson was not tearing up the field.
In a stunning rout of the Denver Broncos, the Chargers make the playoffs three years in a row, and I don't think that they are leaving so soon.
This team is much better than their record. What I saw on Sunday Night Football last night is a team that is ready to do the unthinkable. End San Diego's championship drought.
I saw a LaDainian Tomlinson at his elite level again. I saw a Philip Rivers that could release a deep ball accurately and powerfully. I saw a team that is determined to prove everyone under the sun in the United States wrong.
I think they will.
I'm making a Super Bowl pick, that I may or may not regret. My pick for the AFC is the San Diego Chargers. I think they will run over the Colts next week, and they will take it from there. I hope they do. I can't think of a greater athlete in the NFL that does not have a Super Bowl ring other than LaDainian Tomlinson.
Tomlinson's Alma mater, Texas Christian University, won a bowl game in San Diego a few days ago, and Tomlinson was there cheering them on to victory. I think that their victory has added gasoline to his fire. Combine him with other running backs Darren Sproles, and Jacob Hester, this team has a superb running game.
The Chargers have been burned so many times. Two years ago they go 14-2 and are upset by the New England Patriots in the first round. Last year they lose to the Patriots because of failure in the red zone, and the fact that Philip Rivers was playing on two injured legs. This team has had nothing but struggle especially since Pro Bowl linebacker Shawn Merriman had to go on injured reserve.
Then the takeaway defense went away itself. After having a +24 in turnovers, they have a +4, and one of the worst pass defenses in the league. They even fired the defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell during the season. The new one, Ron Rivera, has done a much better job helping this team win the division.
They deal with a miracle pass in week one, and a blown call in week two. After constant battling they become 4-8, and not one of the games they lost was a blow out. The highest margin of loss was nine points to the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo.
Head Coach Norv Turner has to make a deep run in playoffs if he expects to keep his job. This team barely made it in on an 8-8 record, and a gift like that cannot be squandered.
This team is much better than that, and I think we will see why in the playoffs.