By Dave Thomas
Even though they are not officially eliminated in the AFC playoff race, the Los Angeles Chargers are nearing life-support mode. After last Saturday’s disappointing 30-13 setback in Kansas City that left them all but eliminated from capturing a division title, the Chargers still have hopes in terms of an AFC Wild Card spot.
In order for Los Angeles to grab the division crown, the Chiefs would have to lose two games, with the Chargers winning both. With Kansas City (8-6) hosting Miami this weekend and traveling to Denver the next Sunday, the odds of a pair of losses are rather slim.
Los Angeles (7-7) must now focus on their trip to New Jersey and a meeting with the already eliminated New York Jets (5-9). So what can the Chargers expect when it comes to meeting a New York team simply playing for pride at this point?
Jets Won’t Be Pushover Despite Record
Despite being four games under .500, don’t expect New York to be a pushover come Sunday. Before meeting the rival New England Patriots on the road New Year’s Eve weekend, the Jets would like nothing more than to put a final nail in the Chargers’ coffin this weekend.
Although they’ve had some ugly losses this season, the Jets have beaten the likes of Jacksonville and Kansas City, both front-runners in their respective AFC divisions.
New York lost starting quarterback Josh McCown (2,926 yards passing on the season, 18 TD’s, nine interceptions) in the Denver game two weeks ago with a broken hand. In his place, the Jets turn to Bryce Petty.
Even with limited talent at the quarterback position, the Jets can still be a thorn in the Chargers’ side this weekend, as the Jets (4-3 at home this season) will look to deny Los Angeles the playoffs for yet another season (Chargers last made playoffs in 2013).
Chargers Need To Focus On Game And Not Scoreboard
Clinging to their playoff hopes, the Chargers will have to focus on Sunday’s game and not what is going on elsewhere around the NFL. There are a number of different scenarios out there when it comes to what potential means Los Angeles could work its way into the playoffs. As mentioned earlier, the most notable one would be the Chiefs losing twice, and the Chargers beating both the Jets and Oakland Raiders (Dec. 31).
One player the Chargers would like to have in the lineup but will be missing is second-year tight end Hunter Henry. The Chargers’ third-leading receiver with 579 yards and four scores, Henry went on injured reserve Tuesday due to a lacerated kidney suffered in last Saturday’s game in Kansas City.
The team will also be light on the defensive side of the ball, with both inside linebacker Denzel Perryman (abdomen) and defensive tackle Corey Liuget (knee) listed as out for Sunday. Perryman has 34 total tackles on the season, with Liuget adding 21.
Los Angeles reported the following injury update as of Friday:
- (OLB) Jatavis Brown (Abdomen) – Full Practice
- (CB) Casey Hayward (Calf) – Full Practice
- (S) Adrian Phillips (Ankle) – Full Practice
- (C) Spencer Pulley (Knee) – Full Practice
- (DT) Corey Liuget (Knee) – Did Not Practice
- (ILB) Denzel Perryman (Abdomen) – Did Not Practice
- (T) Joe Barksdale (Hip) – Limited Practice
- (RB) Austin Ekeler (Hand) – Full Practice
- (T) Russell Okung (Groin) – Limited Practice