By Dave Thomas
If you counted the Los Angeles Chargers out of the AFC playoff race, think again.
With back-to-back wins in less than a week, the Chargers climbed right back into the AFC Wild Card hunt. In fact, LA is still not out of the AFC West title chase.
Quarterback Philip Rivers threw for more than 400 yards and three scores as Los Angeles soundly defeated Dallas Thanksgiving Day 28-6 in the Lone Star State. The win pulls the Bolts to within half a game of Baltimore for the final AFC playoff spot.
So, while nothing is written in stone, keep your eyes on this Chargers team.
By getting to within a game of a .500 record after an 0-4 start to the season, the Bolts look to be in the hunt for the remainder of 2017.
Offense: A –
Los Angeles not only got a strong game from Rivers (434 yards passing), but wide receiver Keenan Allen also continued the tear he’s been on for the last two games. Allen, who had 12 receptions last Sunday in a romp over Buffalo, caught 11 balls for 172 yards and one score in the win over Dallas. When healthy, Allen proves again and again that he is one of the top receivers in the league. Hunter Henry and Tyrell Williams also hauled in TD passes from Rivers.
On the ground, running back Melvin Gordon kept the Cowboys’ defense honest, rushing for 65 yards on 21 carries. If the Los Angeles offense can continue this kind of play in the coming weeks, this team will definitely be hard to eliminate from playoff contention.
While Dallas has shown it is a different team (and not a better one) when starting running back Ezekiel Elliott is out (serving suspension for a domestic violence allegation), the Cowboys did have some shots to move the ball and score points. Unfortunately for Dallas fans, second-year QB Dak Prescott did not have one of his better games. The Mississippi State product threw a pair of second-half interceptions to kill any rally. One of the reasons for Prescott’s poor performance was of course the San Diego pass rush. For the day, Jahleel Addae, Denzel Perryman and Adrian Phillips tallied seven total tackles each. Desmond King and Casey Hayward recorded the Los Angeles interceptions.
Special Teams: C
It is safe to say that the Los Angeles kicking efforts on the day were a bit of a fiasco. With starting placekicker Nick Novak playing but nursing a bad back, the Chargers on several occasions had to turn to punter Drew Kaser for extra point attempts. Kaser managed to hit only one of three kicks after touchdowns. Novak connected on one of two extra points and also missed an early field goal attempt.
Coaching: A –
First-year head coach Anthony Lynn continues to push the right buttons the last two games. Lynn is looking better as the team’s choice to replace Mike McCoy after last season. He will be tested even more come next Sunday as the Chargers take on the only winless team left in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns. After a big win over Dallas on the road, can Lynn get his team up for a game against the Browns? A season ago, the Browns got their only win in an atrocious 1-15 season at home over the Chargers by a 20-17 score.
Up Next: Los Angeles will have to make sure it does not overlook what is clearly the worst team in the league once again this season. Cleveland, which visits in-state rival Cincinnati this weekend, has nothing to lose at this point in the season. As a result, Los Angeles can’t take this team from Northern Ohio lightly. The Chargers lead the all-time series with Cleveland 15-9-1.