The Chargers season over? Really? At 5-5? Isn’t that a little dramatic?
Okay, I’ll admit it, that’s a bit of millenial sensationalism there. But, unfortunately, in today’s NFL where each team seems to have a bevy of talent and a unique skill set of playmakers. Well, with exception to the bottom 5 or so teams (sorry, Texans/Panthers/Bears). If you even inspect the rosters of the worst two teams in the division, and what do you see? Davante Adams, Russell Wilson, Darren Waller, and Jerry Jeudy. Let alone the monster that is the AFC – Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Tua/Tyreek, I’ll stop there. Safe to say, it’s an ultra competitive league, where each and every loss counts, and adds up quickly.
And yet, as a Chargers fan myself – I can’t help but have a little hope; even while all of the talking heads might say (and justifiably so) that it is all over… Let’s take a closer look at each side of the question.
My fingers punch with anger, pain, and frustration after two close and well-fought losses to top 5 opponents in the Chiefs and the 49ers. I won’t even dare going too in-depth in regards to last night’s loss against the divisional rival – as it’d quickly turn into a rant. All I will say is – the Chargers just simply cannot stop Travis Kelce – and it comes up as the key factor in every single match. Which brings me to the matter at hand – the Chargers losing close games, and falling into a hole that they can’t get out of.
As fans, we’ve seen this movie before – and it’s starting to become like “Paranormal Activity”. The first and second time you saw it, it was fun and exciting – but once you know what happens, it loses its thrill. Throughout the whole Anthony Lynn era – the Chargers were always good enough to make the postseason, yet always lost the one possession games. Fast forward to the Brandon Staley regime, which has elevated just one level upwards. Good enough to compete, and falling just short. We all know what happened last year. With all of that being said, this is just your typical Chargers season as of the past 5 years. Solid roster, high expectations, and a thrilling finish that doesn’t end well.
So, is the season technically over? No, of course not. With the Dolphins and the Titans being the only really tough matchups throughout the rest of the year, the Chargers could realistically finish at 10-7, possibly even 11-6. Possibly. Now, with the Bengals and Patriots (the 2 current Wild Card frontrunners) sitting at 6-4; you can’t simply say that the Chargers are out once and for all. These standings could flip in just a week or two.
And with the way that the Chargers have been playing as of late – it looks like things are on the up-and-up. Pretty weird, saying that after two straight losses. But again, those were games that everyone expected the Chargers to get blown out – and yet, they put up a great fight, and could’ve won. Don’t count the Chargers out just yet – especially now that Keenan Allen is back and the offense has opened up – things look good.
The Truly Scary Ending
Now, with the way the Chargers’ season has gone so far – and with even more Bolts getting injured on what seems like a weekly basis, one could also argue that the Chargers could drop more than half of their remaining games. An “easy” win against the Colts could be a 200 yard game from Jonathan Taylor and another loss on the books. With the way that the Bolts play against running QB’s – if Kyler Murray is back, the Cardinals game could be a nightmare, too!
Which brings up the star-power element of today’s NFL. When the Chargers came back from the off-season locked and loaded with shiny new reinforcements like Khalil Mack and JC Jackson – it seems like the playing field was only evened. I mean, again, look at the Raiders – they also have Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones on Defense, and upgraded the offense with a top 3 wide receiver. And look at them. There’s an abundance of stars across the league – you can’t just bank on names, especially when one of them has and barely will play this season… Cough, cough – JC Jackson.
And, when your coach is named Brandon Staley – it seems that no win comes easily. One bad call to go for it on fourth down could mean an unessesary and crucial loss… Just like the Browns game could’ve been. Not to mention that damned injury bug which seems to love biting the Chargers – GOD FORBID Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, or Derwin James were to go down for the remainder of the year. It’s taken over half of the year for the Chargers offense to look like it did Sunday night against the Chiefs, and who knows how long it’ll last.
Act III Begins…
You never know what’ll happen in football – and that’s the fun of it, of course. Not many would’ve predicted the Bengals going to the Super Bowl at this point last year. And yet, they obviously did! Sports are full of surprises, and it’s all about momentum. So if the Chargers are able to continue to heal their injuries, get on a groove, and win a majority of their remaining games – you can almost guarantee a Wild Card spot.
Or, maybe not – because maybe the Bengals get it together. Maybe the Jets really are for real, after all. But, after last week, and the reports of internal turmoil surrounding Zach Wilson – it’s highly doubtful the Jets are for real. And while the Patriots certainly have one of the greatest coaches of all time, they’re not exactly the most rock-solid team, either. Again, I also repeat, the Chargers only have ONE more loss than these teams.
But, in our sensationalist culture, a couple of tight losses to power teams, and in an ultra-competitive league – it’s hard not to overreact to the past two weeks. You’d think that if the Chargers were “for real” – that they would’ve held it together and won at least one of those games. But, what I saw was inspiring, and Keenan Allen’s impact was more than tangible. It’s not over just yet. Well, for now.
If the Chargers lose next week against the Cardinals – that’s a whole other story…
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