With just six games left in the regular season, Chargers fans are now not only eyeing a playoff birth, but home field advantage for the playoffs.
The Bolts (7-3) thrashed the Broncos (6-4) in Denver 32-3 on Sunday to seize first place in the AFC West. In ways, the game was just as much a story of the Chargers playing well as it was the Broncos playing poorly, very poorly. Chris Ello and Craig Elsten with 619Sports.net broke down the victory in a post game podcast and like many Chargers fans, began considering home field advantage in the playoffs.
The Chargers jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead in Denver and first year head coach Josh McDaniels had a decision to make early in the game: Be patient or panic?
“McDaniels brought in his quarterback with torn ankle ligaments and basically rolled the dice and played Russian roulette on his team’s entire season to try to get back into a game,” Elsten said.
The 33-year-old coach also took a chance with an onside kick after a field goal brought the score to 13-3, but the Chargers recovered and turned it into a Ladainian Tomlinson touchdown. The defense looked good after allowing the Broncos to drive all the way down the field, even creating a goal line turnover in the second quarter.
“On defense, there’s at least some confidence now,” Ello said, “I’m still not convinced yet that the Chargers are the next dominant defense in the National Football League.”
Regardless of where the Chargers defense stands, fans are feeling more confident than ever about the Bolts playoff chances.
“Now it would take a Denver style choke job for the Chargers not to win this division,” Ello said.
The reference to last year’s meltdown by the Broncos seems unlikely this year with a Chargers team with a 5 game winning streak, playing its best football of the year. It also helps that half of their remaining games are against weaker opponents such as Kansas City, Washington and Cleveland.
“They’ve really regained their foothold on the storyline that they wanted all year,” Elsten said, “For this to be the year that they didn’t have to just put together the late scramble to get into the playoffs, where this could be the year they could actually line things up for themselves.”
Chargers fans are already beginning to get a little greedy. A couple weeks ago, a lot of fans were just hoping the team would win a wildcard playoff spot, but now expectations are high once again. Start dreaming big Chargers fans, because if the Bolts can finish out 12-4 this season there is a good chance there will be a few playoff games in Mission Valley this year.