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Charged Up | Which Playoff Matchup Benefits Chargers The Most?

Published: January 7, 2010

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As I watched Jim Zorn’s Washington Redskins lose to the Chargers JV squad on Sunday, I couldn’t help thinking about what must’ve been going through ol’ Jim’s head.

Across the field, on the opposing sideline, stood Norv Turner, whose team’s (as well his own) reputation is starting to grow on both sides of the Mississippi.

Norv was once in Jim’s shoes, fired by impetuous ‘Skins owner Daniel Snyder, disregarded in most NFL circles as nothing more than a good offensive mind who nevertheless wasn’t fit to run a team as a head coach.

Jim was probably thinking, “yeah, I can see how that could be me…wait, how long did it take Norv to land that cushy job and finally be respected by his peers? Crap.”

Speaking of Snyder, I don’t know if he was present at the game on Sunday, or if he was tempted to buy Legoland or Sea World in the event he came to San Diego, but I wonder if he’s a little bitter at the Chargers for turning two of his former hires into playoff coaches.

Marty Schottenheimer was dissed after just one season in D.C., then turned the Bolts around and led them to the post-season twice in five years.

At that point, I’m guessing Snyder was more concerned that the Chargers would follow Marty up with Steve Spurrier and Fun N’ Gun their way to the Lombardi trophy than them hiring, oh, I don’t know, Norv Turner?

Technically, Charged Up as an entity has never been guilty of Norv bashing, although the writer behind the column definitely has .

Still, it was hard to argue with me then, and, despite the stellar run in 2009, I think most football fans can agree that until the Chargers and Turner (and A.J. Smith) deliver a Super Bowl championship, a humble attitude is the right one.

After all, Norv isn’t running the ball up the middle on every first-and-10 anymore.

On January 17th at the Q, the Chargers could face anyone except the Colts (duh) or the Ravens, due to Baltimore’s No. 6 seed.

With that in mind, Turner, Ron Rivera, and the boys are no doubt preparing for either the Jets’ stingy D, the Bengals’ tail-spinning but talented club, or the Patriots’ wealth of playoff experience.

Here’s what to expect from either one of those clubs and why that match-up could be potentially favorable or dangerous for the Chargers.


New England

The sun seems to be setting on football’s latest dynasty, and coming into the playoffs this season, they’re aging, banged up, and seemingly out-gunned by most of the other contenders—oh, sorry…this is what I wrote back in 2006.

They’re dangerous. They always are. You don’t think Belichick has tricks under his sleeve? The only player that can truly cripple the Patriots by not being there is Tom Brady.

Not Wes Welker. Not Richard Seymour. Not Randy Moss. It’s Brady.

The Bolts turned the ball over four times in their 2006-07 playoff game against the Patriots and then weren’t able to get it into the end zone in the 2007-08 AFC Championship game.

Luckily for San Diego, there won’t be much of a pass rush against Philip Rivers, and Tom Brady won’t have much of a running game to set up the long ball.

Air Norvelous can dictate the pace of the game through Rivers, Vicent Jackson, and Antonio Gates, leading to a Charger victory.



Again, they’re dangerous, they’re emotional, and I don’t think that 37-0 loss to the Jets was completely caused by, say, a New York manhandling of Marvin Lewis’ boys.

Antonio Cromartie was burned by Chad Ochocinco earlier this season for a long TD pass.

Don’t let that happen again.

The Bengals have shied away from the run, but if they decide to establish it against San Diego in the playoffs, it could be a weapon.

Their solid defense didn’t match well against the Chargers potent passing attack, and San Diego’s four-headed monster (admittedly, more Elmo than Frankenstein) in LT, Sproles, Tolbert, and Hester were effective on the ground.

Get them off the field quickly, and kill them through the air.


New York Jets

An intriguing probability, to say the least.

The Jets boast the best defense in the league, although their penchant for stopping the run doesn’t really apply against the Chargers. The better question is, do they have good jumpers?

Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd’s 6’5″, Antonio Gates’ 6’4″, and Legedu Naanee’s 6’2″ statures create match-up problems for anybody. No one’s been close to stopping them so far.

The Chargers aren’t as explosive on defense as Gang Green are, but Mark Sanchez usually generates enough defensive highlights for the opposing team.

And that’s where the crux of the battle would lie: the turnover battle.

Go ahead and pad your stats, Cro.

All leading to a Chargers win and an AFC Championship berth either in Indianapolis or here at home, right? Like everyone at Charger Park (and everyone in Norman Lear’s famed sitcom), take it one day at a time.

Meanwhile, around the league…

Rick Reilly wrote a column praising Norv Turner. He doesn’t work for Sports Illustrated anymore, right? No long-standing association with the Madden cover? Phew.

Charlie Weis took Kansas City’s offensive coordinator job. So, praised offensive coordinator at New England leads to head coach job at Notre Dame leads to offensive coordinator job at Kansas City leads to quarterbacks coach at Anchorage High in Alaska?

Tom Brady won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award.


What a heartwarming story, with the scrappy, three-time Super Bowl winning, Gisele Bundchen marrying, Entourage cameo-having, advertisement and cover boy modeling, sure-fire Hall of Famer entering underdog at the center of it.


Mike Shanahan became coach of the Washington Redskins. Immediately after I read about it, a pop-up ad featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales went up on my screen.

Later on in the day, I saw Sarah Jessica Parker’s poster for that movie with Hugh Grant.

A rare horse-face trifecta.

Speaking of Hugh, he was quoted as saying that Sarah eats “like a horse.”

I’m starting to warm up to British humor.

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One and Done: Irreplaceable Players for 2009-10 NFL Playoff Teams

Published: January 4, 2010

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Only days away from entering the tournament bracket that will yield the two combatants for Super Bowl XLIV, we are reminded that football is a team sport, and that contributions both large and small throughout the season helped the twelve teams get to where they are right now.

Be that as it may, there are some guys a team just can’t survive without, especially in the playoffs. Expect early exits for these teams if the following playmakers can’t get it going in the post-season.

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Charged Up | Chargers-Redskins: Bolts Look To Keep Momentum Going for Playoffs

Published: January 2, 2010

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That bandwagon is getting a little creaky, as folks from Riverside to San Ysidro continue to pile on.

For five of the last six seasons, Charger fans find themselves in a familiar position: geared for the playoffs.

The AFC’s version of the Philadelphia Eagles this decade (Last decade? The ’00s? The noughties?), the Bolts have yet to parlay their sustained excellence into a Super Bowl victory.

Furthermore, heartbreaking losses, hard-luck injuries, and questionable coaching calls have been the hallmarks for San Diego in the postseason.

Hey, you—jumping off the bandwagon, where do you think you’re going?

They say momentum is everything, and when I say “they,” I mean every single jock holding a job as a color commentator or analyst on any one of the big networks, both cable and non-cable.

Normally, you’d doubt guys like Buck Bicep or Randall Roid to impart any type of life lesson, but I’m afraid I have to side with them on this one.

The Chargers have won 10 games in a row, and have supplanted the Saints and the Vikings momentarily on the list of “it” teams in the NFL.

The reason is simple. It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.

In December, Brett Favre’s body falls apart faster than a snowman in Bermuda, and the Vikings have taken a toll.

The Saints scored 38 points in Week 12, 33 in Week 13, 26 in Week 14, and then 17 in Weeks 15 and 16.

Guess which two games they lost?


So, the Saints can’t win unless they outgun everyone on offense? Weird.

Meanwhile, the Bolts are doing it their way.

With a defensive unit nothing short of amazing, considering they have more field casualties than the French army at Waterloo, a resurgent running game, and Philip Rivers featuring They Might Be Giants at WR.

Let’s not forget the coaching.

Ron Rivera chose the worst year to re-gain national relevance with Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher, et al on the prowl for coaching jobs.

Norv Turner’s play-calling has experienced a renaissance, and his mastery of trick plays evokes Henry Winkler’s playbook in The Waterboy .

Or Don Coryell. Whatever.

With the Redskins rolling into town on Sunday and nothing to play for, the question is, of course: Do we dare mess with the big mo?

The last time the Chargers had a first-round bye, Marlon McCree fumbled a Tom Brady interception and Nate Kaeding missed a last-second field goal, effectively knocking the Bolts out of the playoffs.

If Norv Turner decides to give his starters the game off, that will mean a potential gap of 23 days between the win at Tennessee and the AFC Divisional Playoffs.

My suggestion? Give them at least a half. Except for guys coming back from injuries (paging Shawne Merriman to the article), everyone should approach this game as another day at the office.

That way there’s no accumulation of rust, the fans get what they paid for, and no obnoxious media types put pressure on you by saying you played one meaningful game in the past 23 days.


Meanwhile, around the league…

You know what I find funny? How everyone agrees that the Raiders will be better off when a certain senile owner bites the dust.

Even mainstream publications are latching on to this idea. The guy is so stubborn (and don’t forget old) that this is seemingly the only way he’ll ever relent control.

…unless he has his brain secretly implanted into Randy Hanson ‘s body when he dies.

Wade Phillips was all but fired just two weeks ago from the Dallas Cowboys. Now he’s on the cusp of being renewed.

By this logic, expect ol’ Wade to run for Congress and win this year.

So, Mike Holmgren took over the Browns. When Holmgren was the GM and coach of the Seahawks, they were awful.

Seriously, from 1999 to 2002, he was the GM. Their record during that span? 31-33.

From 2002 to 2008, he was solely the head coach—62-41 and a Super Bowl berth.

What’s changed? Did he magically learn how to run a team? Congratulations, Cleveland. You’re the new Detroit and Mike is the new Matt (Millen).

The Steelers think that teams are going to lay down this week to keep them from the playoffs.

Yeah, you guys are scary and no one wants to play you. You know, unless you’re the Browns, Chiefs, Raiders, or Bears.

Those are real juggernauts.

Eli Manning was named the fourth best New York athlete this decade by the New York Post .

The Giants are out of the playoffs.

That recognition was also a huge boost for one-hit wonders all over the world.

In related news, A-Ha’s Take on Me was named the fourth best song in the history of music.

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Chargers vs. Titans: Bolts Ready to Unwrap Christmas Gift of No. 2 Seed

Published: December 24, 2009

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In a word?


Yes, that’s my portmanteau of “Norv” and “marvelous.” Patent pending.

The Chargers resisted a late-game surge by the Bengals and puntcuated their norvelous run through December these past few seasons with a long field-goal kick from Nate Kaeding.

Now, after Nate missed a potential game-winning kick in the 2004 playoffs against the Jets, and then missed a game-tying kick in the 2006 playoffs against the Patriots, I developed a few choice nicknames for him.

Many of them not fit to print.

I could care less about how he’s become one of the most accurate kickers in the history of all-time of forever.

All I saw was the eight for 12 all-time rate in the playoffs and a couple of missed opportunities that could’ve gone towards a parade through downtown San Diego in early February.

Fifty-two yards. Game on the line. Playoff atmosphere. Up and good.

Shut up, Eric.

Norv Turner has his share of detractors in San Diego County and abroad. Too soft. Too much of a player’s coach. Too stale with his playcalling at times.

He took over a 14-2 team and turned into an eight win squad just two years later, who, by the grace of Jay Cutler and Co. made the playoffs—barely.

His 2009 offering battled through some early injuries, but still… we were told this unit was two or three-deep at every position.

Through five weeks of the season, a mediocre 2-3. Off with his head, I said.

Nine wins in-a-row. Undefeated in December during his tenure in San Diego. This close to a first-round bye.

Shut up more, Eric.

You have to hand it to Norv’s boys, his coaching staff, and… yes, his general manager.

This team is looking good.

On Christmas Day, they’ll be facing another team that battled a slow start and is poised to make the post-season in the Tennessee Titans.

It’s pretty obvious the Bolts and the Titans don’t like each other much , and it should make for a pretty gladiatorial spectacle.

For almost four months, defensive coordinators have been scratching their heads thinking of ways how to stop RB Chris Johnson.

I’m pretty sure it can’t be done.

Luckily, the Chargers best weapon against the run is on the other side of the ball.

When Philip Rivers and the offense moves the ball effectively and puts points on the board, forcing the opposition to come from behind, there comes a time when running the ball makes no sense.

Even with Chris Johnson.

Savor your turkey, unwrap your gifts, take a swig of egg nog, and then do what we all wish we could do on Christmas:

Ignore your loved ones for about three hours.

Meanwhile, around the league…

The NFL Network and Bob Papa finally whammied an undefeated team last week. Papa’s indiscriminatory usage of the words “unbeaten,” “perfect,” and “seriously Drew, why don’t you get rid of that mole on your face?” undid the Saints against Dallas on Saturday.

Which brings me to my next point.

Don’t call it Thursday Night Football on NFL Network if the game isn’t on Thursday.

Seriously. Is it that hard to remember for people? To me, it’s much more confusing the way it is currently:

“Hey, Eric. You gonna watch Thursday Night Football?”

“I thought the game was Saturday.”


“So, it’s Saturday Night Football.”


“Get out.”

The Raiders beat the Broncos last week. Yeah, Josh McDaniels is a genius.

The Eagles gave Michael Vick an award for courage. No joke is necessary.

In related news, Shawne Merriman and Tom Cable are up for honorary awards from the National Organization for Women.

Finally, in the words of Krusty the Klown: Have a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukah, a kwazy Kwanza, a tip-top Tet, and a solemn and respectful Ramadan.

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Charged Up: Chad Ochocinco to Fight Shawne Merriman? Child, Please

Published: December 17, 2009

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After the Chargers’ solid but unspectacular victory at Jerryworld last week in Dallas, I started to warm up to the idea of using statistics to predict football games.

You know, when it’s convenient for me and my team to do so.

Here’s another good statistic: the Chargers have a winning record in games outside of their division this season. The Bengals do not.

Then there’s the matter of that December winning streak.

This “the Chargers never lose in December under Norv” thing is both ridiculous and awesome.

And, to be honest, the whole “the Cowboys can’t win in December if Tony Romo is the QB” is also ridiculous and awesome.

Of course, you could also pull out the discouraging 3-4 playoff record this decade in order to quell any over-excitement.

Luckily for us, we can relish in the fact that most Raiders fans can’t read.

Earlier this week, a San Diego radio station’s morning show interviewed Shawne Merriman, who talked all things Chargers, including gabbing about the upcoming game against the Bengals.

The morning jocks then played a sound bite of Chad Ochocinco’s now-famous “Child, please” remark, which had Merriman in stitches.

Apparently Chad took this to mean that Shawne wanted to castrate his children , considering the Bengal’s remarks that he wants to fight Merriman.

Let me get this straight, Chad: You want to fight a guy who literally ended Priest Holmes’ career with one hit?

Good luck with that, buddy.

I would stick to wearing sombreros on the sideline if I were you.

Speaking of which, the Chargers will do good to keep Ochocinco and the rest of the Bengals’ offense on the sidelines this coming Sunday, or else we could see another shootout like the one back in ’06.

On that November afternoon in Ohio, the Bengals and Chargers combined for 90 points , with the Bolts coming out on the victorious end.

This Sunday, both teams will face off in search of the coveted No. 2 seed going into the AFC side of the playoffs.

Beyond a potential game in Indianapolis, this seeding confirms a home game and a first-round bye.

Of course, this game will definitely have a different sort of meaning beyond any type of football topic.

The elephant in the room is Chris Henry , and the Bengals will be thrust into a football game just three days after the wide receiver’s death.

Last week, the Chargers had to finish off a Cowboys team who, for a while, weren’t sure if their teammate DeMarcus Ware would be able to play football or even walk again.

Will they be able to do it again?

And now, on a much lighter note:

Meanwhile, around the league…

The Colts and Jaguars square off tonight on the NFL Network. See how many times Bob Papa can work the word “undefeated” into regular, non-essential plays.

“Joseph Addai takes it up the middle for the undefeated Colts. And he’s stuffed by Daryl Smith, who does not play for an undefeated team, for a one-yard gain. 2nd-and-9 for Manning and his undefeated club. Undefeated.”

Papa and Matt Millen may be the worst announcing duo ever.

Millen opens his mouth and all I hear is “Hi, I’m Matt Millen. I ran a team that went 0-16 and might take years to recover in a league that is notorious for quick turnarounds. Would you like to hear what I think of the game?”

On the topic of horrid announcing, my dad told me that quite often, Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier would call games sounding drunk and disoriented.

Sorry dad, but that sounds awesome.

Speaking of the Jaguars, I just noticed they drafted a tight end this year named Zach Miller.

So there’s two Zach Millers in the league. And two Steve Smiths.

Huh. Sure, it’s not like Zach Miller and Steve Smith aren’t utterly uncommon names, but next thing you know we’ll be going “Which D’Brickashaw Ferguson are you talking about? The Jets’ lineman or the Texans’ kicker?”

Josh Cribbs of the Browns is hopeful he’ll get an extension by the end of the season. I’m pretty sure A.J. Smith wouldn’t mind ponying up a few bucks after Cribbs dismantled the Steelers.

Terrell “Eldorado” (seriously, that’s his middle name, according to Wikipedia . Did I edit that myself? Maybe.) Owens had one of his most prized records (does he even have other records that don’t involve “most ab crunches in the presence of the media?”) broken last week.

Brandon Marshall’s 21 catches weren’t enough to beat the Colts on Sunday. After the game, Marshall stated that he’d like to break more of TO’s records.


Next thing you know, Marshall will be coercing Teri Hatcher and Marcia Cross to get naked on national TV.

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Charged Up: Dallas Cowboys and Chargers Face-Off for Respect, Playoffs

Published: December 12, 2009

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When Dean Spanos, A.J. Smith and Co. are giving out the annual team awards during the offseason next season, hopefully they consider this suggestion seriously:

For your consideration: The Cleveland Browns for team MVP.

Not only did they extend the Chargers’ winning streak (despite Ron Rivera and his patchwork defense’s greatest efforts), but beating the Steelers on Thursday?


Since 2005, the Chargers are 1-4 against the defending champions, and avoiding them completely in the postseason would definitely be nothing short of a coup for Norv Turner’s boys.

By the way, since 2005, the Chargers are 4-1 against the Indianapolis Colts.

However, the Bolts would be unwise to be thinking about those ifs and maybes, especially when they have such a huge game in front of them this weekend.

The Chargers will stroll into Big D to take on Jerry and Wade’s boys in a big game with playoff implications for several teams in both the AFC and NFC.

While much of the hard-hitting analysis leading up to the game has been focused on whether punter Mike Scifres will hit the huge TV hanging from the roof of the stadium, surely the brunt of the focus must be on the other things.

Like, for example, will the Chargers be able to pressure Tony Romo enough to transform him from “Tony Romo, media darling and Pro Bowl QB,” into “Tony Romo, guy who can’t hold extra points, excessive party-goer and guy who’s 5-8 in December and January?”

Is there any way San Diego stifles Dallas’ running attack without Jamal Williams clogging up the middle?

How much useful inside information does Wade Phillips still have about San Diego’s defensive scheme and offensive personnel?

Will Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo be effective coming back from injury?

Furthermore, when will Nick Hardwick and Eric Weddle be back? Will Shaun Phillips play?

Will LT be able to rush for more than 50 yards, prompting every homer from San Ysidro to Riverside to shout “LT’S BACK!!!!?”

Then there’s this perception plaguing both clubs in the eyes of the national media, who deride the teams’ solid seasons, citing poor opposition.

The winner of this match-up should definitely get their share of respect going into Monday morning.

If Dallas comes out on top, they’ll be cited for halting San Diego’s potent aerial attack and Wade Phillips will be in the clouds after having out-coached Norv Turner, the former Cowboys offensive coordinator.

If the Chargers win, the ridiculous win streak in December stretches to 16, they retain a comfortable lead over Denver in the AFC West, and they go back home to play against Cincinnati and, quite possibly, the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

San Diego’s already got a slight advantage going into Sunday, as the dark clouds have gathered quicker than usual over the Cowboys.

With last week’s loss to the Giants, Wade Phillips has drawn the ire of fans and owner Jerry Jones alike, who might be searching for a new head coach despite Wade’s 30-13 record in Dallas.

And if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years from the ‘Boys is that Phillips and Romo alike buckle at the first sign of trouble.

Meanwhile, around the league…

The Oakland Raiders have a chance to break their season-high winning streak, which currently stands at a lofty one game.

On paper, it should be an attainable task, as they play the Redskins. But, as the Saints learned last week, nothing’s a given with Washington.

Now that the Browns have won their second game of the season, the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft (Tim Tebow, right? What’s this? I’ve lost all credibility? Oh.) has the 1-11 Rams and Buccaneers fighting it out.

With games against the Falcons and the Saints still remaining, Tampa Bay looks like the probable “winner.”

What’s next for Chad Ochocinco? I suggest he tweet while scoring a touchdown. It’d probably go something like this:

@OGOchoCinco: I caught it… runnin down the 40…30…20…I could go…all…the way! lolz I can’t wait for my fine.

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Charged Up: Chief Blunders Mean Another Win, Can Chargers Run The Table?

Published: November 29, 2009

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So maybe Thanksgiving night was made a little less joyful by the Broncos taking down a quixotic Giants team (but I guess that’s what you can expect when Kevin Gilbride is your offensive coordinator), but I’m betting the smile came back on everyone’s face when they were reminded San Diego would face the Chiefs on Sunday.

Despite the constant warnings by the “experts” of a potential trap game (AKA “Sleeper game” or “Letdown game”), the Chargers came out firing and put the contest out of reach early.

You know it’s going good when people are still smiling moments after LaDainian Tomlinson fumbles at the goal line (LT’S BACK!!!!!!!!!! version 4.0).

A plethora of big plays from a myriad of guys today. That’s two big words in one sentence, people (thanks for my new thesaurus, grandma).

Paul Oliver on that crazy Cassel fumble, Larry English ripping a loose ball from Cassel, Malcom Floyd making a big catch at the goal line (presumably while Cassel watched), Antonio Gates , Philip River s , LT, et al.

However, the unquestioned MVP for the Chargers was Kansas City Chiefs Rudy Niswanger , whose two errant snaps meant two turnovers on a fumble and a failed fourth-down play.

He’s definitely no David Binn .

Speaking of David, he played in his 250th game for the franchise this Sunday. Seriously, give this guy a medal. He’s played here through the likes of Craig Whelihan , Moses Moreno and, yes, Ryan Leaf .

The Chiefs are so bad it defies logic.

Remember last season, when Herm Edwards was still running the show? Sure, they were just as awful, but at least they gave the Chargers a fight in both games.

Year one of KC and Denver’s  emulation of New England couldn’t be going differently, but still, they might want to ask how that process went for Cleveland and the Jets .

Or Notre Dame .

Next week, it’s off to Cleveland, where a preliminary forecast shows 38-degree temperatures under a partly cloudy sky.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Chargers adjust to the near-freezing temperatures and the Browns defoh man, I almost got through it, I really did.

There’s no way the Chargers lose, barring a cataclysm of JaMarcus Russell -ian proportions.

Which begs the question, with six victories in a row, a manageable schedule down the stretch, and a division rival breathing down their neck, can the Chargers run the table?

Again, with all due respect to mathematicians and those “any given Sunday” guys, it’s going to be exceedingly difficult if not impossible for the Browns to beat the Chargers.

After that, it’s off to Dallas where the Cowboys are a deceiving 8-3.

I mean, other than Philadelphia and the Atlanta Falcons , they’ve beat Tampa Bay , Carolina , Kansas City , Seattle , Washington (by a whopping score of 7-6) and Oakland .

Wondering what the combined record of those teams are? 27-50.


Cincinnati’s probably the toughest game on San Diego’s remaining schedule. The Bengals are also 8-3 and playing great football.

However, this is a classic statement game for the Bolts.

If you can’t beat a good team on your field in the regular season, how are you going to do the same in the postseason?

Tennessee has been resurgent, but they’ll probably be 7-7 by the time they face their Chargers and a very unlikely candidate for the final Wild Card spot.

Some food for thought: The Chargers are 2-0 against Vince Young .

If Cincinnati and the Broncos keep winning, then San Diego will go into their game against Washington with both tie-breakers in hand even if they lose.

That probably means you’ll see backups, but are you telling me you don’t trust Billy Volek more than Jason Campbell ?

That’s what I thought.

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Charged Up: Déjà Vu at Mile High As Broncos Choke, Chargers Top AFC West

Published: November 22, 2009

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Josh McDaniels, you truly are a disciple of Bill Bellichick.

You embody Bellichick’s maverick spirit, going against the grain of conventional wisdom in order to storm your way to victory.

No, wait—it’s one thing to go for it on 4th-and-2 in the waning moments of the fourth quarter in order to put a game out of reach, it’s another thing to try and convert an onside kick in the third quarter, down by just ten points.

Really, Josh?

McDaniels’ brilliant coaching mind is also responsible for three failed fourth-down attempts by the Broncos.

Also, why play Chris Simms right off the bat knowing full well that Kyle Orton could go if needed?

Did anyone really think Simms was going to lead the Broncos to anything other than misery?

Simms could have trouble running a Pop Warner offense, at this point.

Which reminds me, is it possible to sue someone for misuse of the family name? I can just see Phil Simms over the phone right now, asking Chris over and over again if he thinks this is the right career for him.

But, then again, McDaniels should also be questioned for his handling of Orton.

Having taken a couple of shots in the game, why leave him in there the rest of the way, risking injury?

Whereas Mike Shanahan was hailed after last year’s Mile High Robbery for gambling on a two-point conversion at the end of the game, McDaniels will be vilified as the goat, or better yet—the donkey.

Makes you really happy we’re coached by Norv Turner, doesn’t it?

In other news, sound the horns and warn the defenses, LT ‘S BACK!!!!!!!!!!! (version 3.0)

A lofty 73 yards on 20 carries and a hard-earned TD are shadowed by a spectacular play call by Norv having LT pass the ball back to Philip Rivers before Rivers found Antonio Gates for a big gain.

That was a good one, Norv.

That reverse off the wildcat to Vincent Jackson that went for a loss? Not so much. There comes a point where too much “surprise” is just overkill.

A big win on a big stage that vaults San Diego on the path to another AFC West title, after another slow, frustrating start.

But ah, I can hear the naysayers around the league already, downplaying the Bolts’ triumph. 

“You caught the Giants on a downward spiral. And the Eagles. And the Broncos. Plus, Chris Simms started the game.”

I kind of have to agree with them on that last point, to be honest.

Speaking of which, what was today, anyway? “San Diego Chargers Appreciation Day”?

Not only did the Broncos do everything in their power to hand over the division lead on a silver platter, but the Chiefs and the Raiders beat legitimate AFC playoff contenders!

Kansas City knocked off the Steelers at Arrowhead putting them at 6-4 and one game behind the Chargers in the AFC playoff picture, potentially giving the Bolts a home game against them should they meet in January.

And with JaMarcus Russell’s days in Oakland seemingly numbered (JaMarcus, meet Ryan Leaf. Ryan, meet JaMarcus. JaMarcus, do you play golf at all?), Bruce Gradkowski lead the Raiders over Cincinnati.

Here’s how much I hate the Raiders: despite knowing full well that an Oakland victory would completely benefit the Chargers, I found myself screaming for Sebastian Janikowski to miss his go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter, just so I could poke fun at the Raiders.

The Bengals are now 7-3, tied with San Diego with a Dec. 20 game still pending at Qualcomm Stadium that as of now, has playoff implications.

Speaking of the Bengals, did anyone see Andre Caldwell’s eyebrows? I wonder what the over/under of jokes aimed his way is in Cincy’s locker room for those.

Child, please.

With the Chiefs coming to town next Sunday, their victory today if anything refocuses the Chargers and has them motivated to face a team that has played them hard in the recent past and shown they can beat a good team every now and then.

You know, so long as Charlie Batch is behind center during overtime.

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Charged Up: Bill Bellichick Benefits Chargers With Blunder Vs. Colts?

Published: November 17, 2009

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Game recaps are a thing of the past.

Let’s face it, it takes way less than a thousand monkeys banging on a thousand typewriters for a thousand years to churn out a decent NFL post-game stat sheet.

SportsCenter’s on your iPhone and on the web, 24 hours a day.

Even if you missed that, by the time you pick up your morning paper the next day, you already heard about it on the radio and the morning news on TV.

Admit it, you didn’t come here for no stinkin’ recap.

You’re here for fresh, hard-hitting analysis that takes no prisoners and has no vested interest in “playing nice” with Chargers players and brass.

And that’s what you’re going to get from now on with “Charged Up.”

The Chargers beat a solid Eagles team last Sunday behind a balanced offensive attack and smart offensive playcalling in the early going.

Wildcat plays from Legedu Naanee and LT kept Philly’s D at bay, not to mention a brilliantly drawn up pass to Mike Tolbert of all people, who scampered in for an easy score.

Up 28-9 in the third quarter, Norv Turner decided 45 minutes of football was enough, and put his dogs on a leash. Ron Rivera complied with the strategy.

The result? Donovan McNabb carves your defense up and marches down the field twice for 14 points in less than five minutes.

I guess Rivera didn’t want to establish a pattern of violent behavior for Shawne Merriman now that Tila Tequila is suing Merriman for that incident back in September.

Listen, I get that the Chargers pass rush hadn’t been able to put significant pressure on McNabb for the entire game, but why stop trying? When has playing the prevent defense actually stopped a Pro Bowl-caliber QB and his team from moving the ball?

Norv should just feel lucky that Antonio Cromartie didn’t inadvertently pop the ball up into Jason Avant’s hands during that final desperation heave with no time remaining.

He should also be relieved that it was Philadelphia and not say, New Orleans or Indianapolis coming back on him. Right, Mr. Bellichick ?

Speaking of that Pats-Colts game, the fact that home-field advantage may already be won by Indy could work in the Chargers’ favor.

Hear me out.

Not only do the Chargers have a superb track record against the Indianapolis Colts during the past few years, heck, they’ve traded better shots against the Patriots at times, but San Diego’s offense is just as explosive and even more air-based than Indianapolis.

Assuming Indy doesn’t implode in the playoffs like they usually do, you can expect to play one or two games at home and then travel to that over-sized garage in Indiana to face the Colts.

In the dome, Reggie Wayne , Dallas Clark and Pierre Garcon are just as dangerous as Vincent Jackson , Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates .

Plus, the battle in the air between Rivers and Peyton Manning will draw attention away from the inevitably injured LT sulking on the sideline.

Too soon?

Is it just me, or is everyone else deranged, saying LT is “back” now that he scored twice and—nearly—ran for 100 yards last week?

Listen, I guess I hold LT to a higher standard than most. I know he’s not going to attain 2006 form ever again.

But when did we ever get this excited about LT getting 96 yards in a game? Ever? In fact, it actually speaks volumes about his unfortunate decline.

If 2006 LT would’ve gotten news that his wife was pregnant before a game, he would’ve rushed for 850 yards and scored 7 touchdowns.

In that game.

Last week, he finally gets in on whatever-and-goal inside the five on one play and then skips into the end zone on the O-line’s first decent blocking play of the season from the 20.

Kris Dielman could’ve scored on that play with that blocking. Wearing concrete shoes. Carrying Rosie O’Donnell under his other arm.

Let him sustain this level for three or four games, and then we can start crowing about LT being “back.”

What do we got next week? Oh, boy—Denver.

The grief San Diego fans get after every slow start about “disappearing” and being bandwagoners is overwhelming.

I got e-mails, Facebook comments and IMs from seemingly every person in Colorado for the first month or so of the season.


Now I imitate cricket chirps every time I log on.


Now you’ve potentially got either Kyle Orton on one foot (who’s been awful anyway these past three weeks) or Chris Simms (who’s always awful) going against the Chargers at Mile High next week in a game that’s going to define first place for the time being.


Better start icing up those calves now, Knowshon and Correll .

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Lucky 13: Chargers Squeak Out Win Against Oakland, Two Back in AFC West

Published: November 1, 2009

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File this under “the glass is half-empty.”

Facing an Oakland Raiders (2-6) team that could not get any semblance of pass defense against San Diego’s aerial attack, the Chargers (4-3) chose to run 30 times in 55 plays.

When the Raiders had the ball, the Bolts faced a team they knew would run at them (as their QB boasts a rating of 47.2), and yet they allowed nearly 100 yards on the ground and eight rushing first downs.

Going into halftime with a cozy 21-10 lead, the Chargers dozed, left the Raiders for dead, and found themselves defending on their own side of the field with 2:00 remaining as Oakland looked to potentially tie the game.

That, of course, didn’t happen. But it wasn’t San Diego’s doing.

Two Oakland receivers smashed into each other, leading to a JaMarcus Russell sack and fumble (which caromed off of Chargers DE Jacques Cesaire’s fingers, twice) that the Raiders eventually recovered.

A false-start penalty then made it 2nd-and-28, a sack made it 3rd-and-31, and just like that, the Raiders had successfully self-destructed, true to their nature.

The Raiders are a very, very bad football team.

Any halfway decent squad would’ve put up more of a fight in that situation, a fight that the Chargers allowed themselves to be roped in to.

Underestimating their rivals and overestimating their own capabilities have lead to some pretty poor outings from the Chargers this season; uneven, suspect play calling from the sideline has wasted some golden opportunities for San Diego.

San Diego’s second-half performance at Qualcomm Stadium today was ugly, a symphony of mistakes both blatant and subtle.

Darren Sproles let a kickoff roll within two inches of the sideline at the five-yard line before deciding to pick it up, and then got tackled at the eight.

Sproles himself would later fumble a punt return that he appeared to fall on top of. In the ensuing scuffle, his 5’6″ 180-pound frame was no match for Oakland’s bigger bodies, and he lost the ball.

During a fourth-quarter drive, San Diego marched 83 yards down the field largely on the strength of the passing game, with Philip Rivers totaling 49 yards on just three passes.

It took seven rushes to get the other 34 yards.

With 1st-and-goal at the three, the Chargers committed a false start, allowed Philip Rivers to be sacked, and eventually settled for a field goal from Nate Kaeding.

Norv Turner ignored all logic and conventional wisdom by running the ball 33 times for 100 yards, a dazzling average of 3.3 yards per rush.

The average of yards per pass play? Nine and a half.

Why nibble and insist on feeding an increasingly finished LaDainian Tomlinson (who had a couple of nice runs, but again, mostly duds) when the big play is undoubtedly your best friend?

Why not blitz and fill up inside gaps as often as you can when you’re playing against a good running team and an awful QB?

Why let the Oakland Raiders hang around for so long when you started off so hot (a TD off a Wildcat play? Attaboy, Norv) and could’ve potentially put the game out of reach early?

Norv must dabble part-time as a CBS executive, as his antics definitely made for great TV Sunday afternoon. Like their best crime dramas, the game had most on the edge of their seat.

Recently, I wrote that the Chargers weren’t as good as we (and they) thought they were .

I still stand by that statement, and the proof is in the pudding.

When you can’t put the Raiders away this season twice until very late in the fourth quarter, there’s something wrong with your football team.

A point of comfort?

The glass might be half-empty here, but it’s downright shattered in Oakland.

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