With last night’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Atlanta Falcons, the second half of the NFL season began in full swing and teams could legitimately start looking at whether or not they had a realistic chance at making the playoffs. Looking at the NFL standings, it’s easy to see that some teams have already established themselves as Super Bowl contenders (Steelers, Giants, etc.) while other teams (Bills, Cowboys, etc.) have already buried any chance of playing any meaningful game in January.
However, there are quite a few teams who are stuck in the middle who have a chance to make a run during the second half of the season. It’s called parity, folks, and it’s one of the things that makes the NFL so great! There’s one team out there that I think is primed for a run during the second half of the season and I think it’s the much maligned San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers started out the season horribly, as has been the case in recent seasons. They were 2-5 over the first seven games of the season. This was despite the best efforts of quarterback Philip Rivers, who is somewhat quietly in the midst of an outstanding season. Drowned by all of the MVP surrounding the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady – who are also having great seasons – Rivers has quietly thrown for 2,944 yards and has a quarterback rating of 102.9, which is currently good enough for third in the NFL. Now, with two consecutive wins, they are 4-5. In my mind, that is right back in the thick of things.
Head coach Norv Turner seemingly has been on the hot seat at some point in all four years of his coaching tenure in San Diego. Yet, you look at his record there and you see he has three division titles in three seasons. Looking at his team and looking at the schedule, I think he has a decent shot at getting that fourth title. Over the last seven games of the season the Chargers have two games against the struggling Broncos, the Bengals, the 49ers, and a game apiece against both teams ahead of them in the standings, the Chiefs and the Raiders. The opportunity is certainly there.
Keep in mind who the Chargers will be getting back soon, also. That’s right, Vincent Jackson is coming. He FINALLY signed his contract tender in late October, and he is eligible to play beginning November 28th. That’s going to be a big pickup for the Charger offense. The offense has been doing fine without him, which is amazing considering Antonio Gates has been battling a toe injury and actually still easily leads the team in catches despite sitting out the last game.
The Chargers have a bye this week, which comes at the perfect time. It gives Gates more time to heal and gives this team more time to regroup for the stretch run. The Chargers are in a surprising position. Review the statistics and you may notice that the Chargers are first in total offense and fifth in total defense. But the Turner-led Chargers have been down this road before. This isn’t their first rodeo. And they are in prime position to do what they’ve done in the past… make a charge towards the post-season.