By Dave Thomas
Sitting at a 4-4 record with eight games to go, what does the second half of the season have in store for Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers?
With Denver getting a win in Cincinnati Sunday afternoon, the Broncos maintain a one-game lead (5-3) over the Bolts in the AFC West. Meantime, Oakland (3-5) dropped a 42-32 decision at home to Tampa Bay, leaving the Raiders two games out in the chase for the division title.
As the Chargers prepare to head to Florida later this week to take on the 4-4 Tampa Bay Bucs and former Charger wide receiver Vincent Jackson, San Diego essentially controls its own destiny, albeit a little help along the way would be much appreciated.
Having blown a huge lead at home against Denver on Oct. 15 (35-24 loss), the Chargers now have to go to the Mile High City on Nov. 18 and hope to come away with a victory, thereby knotting the season series. Should San Diego lose that game, it in all likelihood it can kiss away any hopes of winning the division.
With that being said, the Chargers could still find themselves with a wild card berth should they not win the division.
If you look at the AFC standings to date, other than Houston at 7-1, the field is pretty wide open for some division titles and wild card spots to be fought for over the next two months. Even the Texans are not a lock to win the AFC South, though they hold a two-game lead over Indianapolis (play Dec. 16, Dec. 30), and would figured to be favored when the two meet.
Getting back to San Diego, the Chargers remaining eight games are all against beatable teams, though San Diego could just as easily drop a number of the contests too. Beginning with the Bucs this coming Sunday, San Diego faces a string of three-straight games against teams (Tampa Bay/Denver/Baltimore) with a combined mark of 15-9.
After that stretch, the Chargers get only one team currently above .500 (Pittsburgh at 5-3). San Diego will also play Cincinnati (3-5), Carolina (2-6), the New York Jets (3-5) and Oakland (3-5).
If you were looking at a very realistic scenario, the Chargers beat Tampa Bay, lose at Denver, upset Baltimore at home, beat Cincinnati at home, lose in Pittsburgh, defeat Carolina at home, find a way to lose to the Jets on the road, and finish it off with a home win over Oakland.
So, if that scenario played out, San Diego would be looking at a final record of 9-7. Would that be enough to get the Bolts in as a wild card, that is assuming Denver does not collapse?
The next eight games should be quite a ride for those still on the Bolts bandwagon, not to mention the folks who have been true fans all along.
Nov. 11 – at Tampa Bay
Nov. 18 – at Denver
Nov. 25 – BALTIMORE
Dec. 2 – CINCINNATI
Dec. 9 – at Pittsburgh
Dec. 16 – CAROLINA
Dec. 23 – at N.Y. Jets
Dec. 30 – OAKLAND
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Chargers news, see CBS Sports Los Angeles.
Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.