Denver Broncos Make It a Race for San Diego Chargers

Paul PreibisiusAnalyst IDecember 1, 2009

In what was lining up to be a perfect weekend for San Diego, one snafu got in the way. They had to face the lackluster Kansas City Chiefs in San Diego.

Denver was on a massive losing skid with a gimpy Kyle Orton playing a Giants team that finally broke its own losing streak and was looking to turn a corner and keep pace in its own divisional race.

The Chargers took care of their end of the deal, putting away the Chiefs just before halftime, carrying a 28-7 lead into the locker room. They did not let up (and the Chiefs did not pick up) as 43-14 victory saw Billy Volek able to make a rare regular-season pass.

Denver, in winning 26-6 against New York, refused to assist the Chargers in building a powerful two-game lead with only five remaining. Instead, the Broncos are a single game back with a possibility for a very interesting tie-breaker, having split the series this year, making it quite likely for both to end with 5-1 divisional records.

San Diego plays two playoff teams in Dallas and Cincinnati, one at home and one away. They also end the year with two opponents that looked much easier a few weeks ago in Tennessee and Washington.

The Broncos have both divisional games against the Chiefs, and one more game against the Raiders to play, paired with Colts and Eagles games.

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San Diego fans may find themselves rooting for divisional enemies very soon, as a loss to Oakland or Kansas City would effectively add a game to San Diego’s advantage, regardless of their own outcome that week.

With only five games left on the schedule and a single-game advantage, holding that tie-breaker would likely secure the division for the Chargers.

The possible return of Denver’s winning ways may hold one other advantage, however. With a team nipping at the Charger’s heels, they won’t be able to let up.

This extra push could be the necessary ingredient to secure a first-round bye for San Diego, who is in a tie with Cincinnati and potentially New England, should they win tonight.

Right now, from a strange tie-breaking procedure I was unaware of until reading up (strength of opponent not division/conference record when it comes to this seeding), San Diego actually holds the No. 2 seed over Cincinnati right now.

With this tie-breaking procedure highly tenuous, San Diego must work to maintain pace and earn that second seed and its accompanying bye, which would go a long way towards legitimizing a season of which many critics have been doubtful ever since the opening week's tight game against Oakland (and its accompanying injuries).

The final advantage is simple. San Diego just matches up better, should Denver earn a wild card, than it would against the Steelers or Ravens.

If Denver’s success can keep one of those two out (and possibly Jacksonville helping to keep both out), I would be quite happy with the way the playoff picture laid itself out.

Here’s to a great playoff race. Good luck, and go Chargers.