The Chargers started 1-4 and a lot of people thought their head coach was on the brink of being fired (something Chargers owner Dean Spanos denies was the case).
Now the Chargers are 4-5 heading in to a Sunday showdown with the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium and, against a whole lot of odds, have inched back in to the thick of the playoff hunt.
The AFC is shaping up to have a few really good teams and a gaggle of teams that are good but kind of stuck in one big pack. The term "war of attrition" comes to mind.
One of the teams the Chargers are chasing is the Dolphins, so a win over Miami will help them dramatically. In fact if the Bolts can get back to 5-5 … well, I'll let the Pro Bowl quarterback explain what that might mean for the duration of the 2016 season.
“I think getting to .500 will put us right in it,” says Philip Rivers. “Then we get a bye week to really get healthy and we have a six-game season. If we can get to 5-5 we’re going to be right there at the top of that pack that’s right there at five wins or so. Our division has a chance to get three teams in. We’re gonna fight like crazy to be one of those three. Those are things that help me to picture and to see we’re going to be one of those three teams. How can we get to be one of those three teams? We’ve gotta win this one.”
He is absolutely right. Only the top six teams in each conference earn post-season berths.
On Saturday night the Bolts are 9th in the AFC playoff standings behind the Chiefs, Broncos, Dolphins and Steelers. If the Chargers win on Sunday, and the Steelers lose to the 7-1 Cowboys, the Bolts will be in the 7th spot in the AFC with a big old logjam behind them that could include the Steelers, Titans, Colts, Dolphins and Bills.
The only teams in front of them in the Wild Card hunt would be the Chiefs and Broncos, who have to play each other twice in the season’s final six games. The Bolts already split with Denver and host Kansas City in the regular season finale.
That is one of just three games the Chargers have left against teams with winning records and San Diego has already shown they can play with Andy Reid’s club.
That is how much Sunday’s game means to the remainder of the year. Get his one and the Bolts can heal up in the bye week before heading to Houston to start the sprint to the finish line.