By Dave Thomas
Don’t call this just another game for the San Diego Chargers. For all intents and purposes, Sunday’s game in Miami against the Dolphins is an AFC playoff game.
After taking a 4-3 record into their bye weekend late last month, the Chargers have proceeded to drop two straight games, leaving them precariously on the outside looking in at the AFC Wild Card race. While there are a number of other teams also in the hunt that have not been able to pull away, too much company at the inn could end up keeping the Bolts home from the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
One of those teams that the Chargers need to shed in order to move up in the wild race is the aforementioned Dolphins. Following a 22-19 loss on the road this past Monday evening in Tampa, the Dolphins saw their record fall to 4-5. Yes, there two teams at 4-5 playing this Sunday in South Florida with their playoff lives on the line.
Chargers Need to Dial-Up Consistency
If you have spent any amount of time in recent years following the Chargers, you know that their biggest Achilles heel has been inconsistent play.
One weekend San Diego will go out and play like a team capable of making a long run into the playoffs. Another weekend, the Chargers will come out and play a few quarters of ball that make the Raiders look like the best team around the league.
So, which San Diego team will take the field Sunday afternoon in Miami in a game that could go a long way in deciding its playoff fate?
For the Chargers, Sunday’s game marks another test in what essentially will be playoff atmosphere football over the remaining seven weekends of the season. If the Chargers get caught looking ahead or worrying about what everyone else is doing, they more than likely will find themselves sitting at home come early January.
After the trip to Miami, the Chargers must then travel to presently unbeaten Kansas City (9-0) before returning home for four of their final five games of the season.
The home schedule in December is not exactly a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination, as the Bolts face AFC North leading Cincinnati (Dec. 1), an improving New York Giants team (Dec. 8), the rival Raiders (Dec. 22), and another match up with the Chiefs (Dec. 29). San Diego also must travel to 8-1 Denver for a Thursday night game on Dec. 12.
As anyone in the Chargers organization will tell you, first thing’s first.
Heading into their meeting Sunday with Miami, San Diego will hope to have some bruised and battered bodies ready to go.
Of most concern to the Chargers will be getting back some healthy bodies on the offensive line, along with running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring) and wide receiver/kick returner Eddie Royal (toe).
As of Thursday’s report, the following players were still nursing injuries:
- Safety Jahleel Addae (ankle) – did not practice
- Tackle King Dunlap (neck) – did not practice
- Defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe) – limited practice
- Center Nick Hardwick (neck) – did not practice
- Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (hamstring) – limited practice
- Running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring) – limited practice
- Fullback Le’Ron McClain (ankle) – did not practice
- Tackle/Guard Mike Remmers (ankle) – full practice
- Guard Chad Rinehart (toe) – full practice
- Wide receiver/Kick returner Eddie Royal (toe) – did not practice
- Inside linebacker Manti Te’o (elbow) – full practice
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.