By Dave Thomas

To say this has been a disappointing season for the San Diego Chargers would be like saying that the New England Patriots are only a decent team.

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While the Chargers and probably many other teams in the AFC aspire to have the success New England has on a yearly basis, the reality is that only one team can win the conference each year. After nine games this season, it is safe to say San Diego (2-7) won’t be that team.

Before the 2015 campaign began, there was high optimism in the Chargers camp that this team had the potential to do something special. Sure, injuries happen to all teams during a season, but the Bolts seem to have been snake-bitten this year by the injury bug. When you throw in the fact that many of those players seeing action this year have not lived up to their abilities, you have the prescription for a season gone bad.

Kansas City Going In Opposite Direction

When San Diego takes the field at home this Sunday against its old-time AFC rival Kansas City (3-5), it will face a team which is seeing greener pastures after a sluggish start to the season.

The Chiefs, who trail in the all-time series against the Chargers 55-54-1, have tallied three straight wins, allowing them to pull within three games of AFC West-leading Denver. In its most recent game, Kansas City stifled Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver by a 29-13 score. Even better for Kansas City, it finishes the regular season with three of its last four games at Arrowhead Stadium.

What Are Chargers Playing For?

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Meantime, the Chargers are all but playing for a good pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

The Chargers will tell you that this season is not over, though most would admit they have a huge hole to climb out of if they want any shot of making the AFC playoffs.

Among the most interested spectators these final seven games of the season will be San Diego’s Mike McCoy, a coach whom undoubtedly is feeling a little bit of heat these days.

Yes, it would be pure speculation to say McCoy could be out of here at season’s end, but one definitely gets the feeling like the third-year head coach (9-7 in his first two seasons with the Chargers) is in a win-out situation down the stretch here. While no one likely thought this team would topple New England or a couple of the other perennial powers in the conference, likely no one would have tabbed the Bolts to be five games under .500 with seven games left in the regular season.

While injuries to the offensive line, starting wide receiver Keenan Allen, linebacker Manti Te’o and some others for more than just a couple of games will undoubtedly be a part of the storyline for this year’s team. Too many mistakes in key situations (mostly in the fourth quarter of games) have led to where the Chargers are right now.

Even though a win over a hot Kansas City team will not suddenly vault San Diego into playoff contention, the Chargers and their fans sure won’t complain if they get one come late Sunday afternoon.

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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.