By Dave Thomas
Where was this Los Angeles Chargers team after the first month of the season?
Starting the season 0-4, the Chargers were left for dead by many NFL prognosticators. In fact, there were thoughts that the Bolts would have last place in the AFC West all to themselves when the season finished.
Turning the page to early December, the Chargers are in the thick of things in what is both a competitive and less-than-stellar AFC West.
With only Denver at 3-9 really out of the AFC West race, Kansas City, Los Angeles and Oakland sit tied for first. While the Chiefs currently hold the division due to the first tiebreaker rule, the other two are right on their heels.
So, what to expect these last four games of the regular season?
Chargers Have Momentum On Their Side
While Kansas City has been in a free-fall this last month of play (losers of four straight), Los Angeles has instead been trending in the opposite direction.
Early in the season, the Chiefs looked like one of the AFC favorites to make it to the Super Bowl. Although that could still happen, not too many folks around the NFL are betting on it these days.
Meanwhile, the Chargers have been on a tear, winning their last three contests by a combined score of 101-40. During this roll, Los Angeles has beaten three teams that are not exactly the Patriots or the Eagles. That said, the wins all add up just the same.
Heading into this Sunday’s home contest with the floundering Washington Redskins (5-7), the Chargers have yet another shot to keep the good times rolling.
While Washington is more than capable of pulling the upset, the Redskins are all but left for dead in the NFC East. Although still mathematically alive in the NFC Wild Card race, not many people are expecting much from Washington over these last four games other than to play the role of a spoiler.
What could be a red flag for Los Angeles would be the team being caught looking ahead to Dec. 16.
On that Saturday night, the Chargers travel to Arrowhead Stadium to meet the rival Chiefs. With Kansas City winning the first meeting in Los Angeles back in September, the Chargers can’t afford to stumble twice to their longtime AFL rival. A loss in Kansas City could put the Chargers on the chopping block as far as the playoffs go.
Not to be forgotten, the Oakland Raiders also sit at 6-6 in the AFC West race. In looking at the Raiders’ remaining schedule, they have a pair of big dates with Kansas City (Dec. 10) and Los Angeles (Dec. 31). Throw in a home game with Dallas (Dec. 17) and a tough road date at Philadelphia (Christmas night), one could argue the Raiders have the most difficult path to claiming the division crown.
So, buckle up your chinstrap and get ready for what should certainly be an entertaining last four weeks to the 2017 NFL season.