Chargers’ Outlook

Posted by on November 28th, 2014  •  0 Comments  • 

I told you they would arrive at this point of the season, with this record, and that this point of the season would determine whether there will be a postseason.
 
And so it has, this Chargers team, hauling a (7-4) record into the Charm City to meet the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday morning.  I had projected all season long they would get to this spot on the schedule at (7-4), though I did not think they’d have a win over Seattle in the process.  Of course I would have never imagined San Diego would struggle to beat the lowly Raiders twice, struggle to beat the Rams, and get blanked-blasted by Miami.
 
The mood-swings in this community are all over the place.  Put a few wins together and the fans are ranking you as an elite team, regardless of who you beat. 
 
It was like last year’s sprint to the finish line after the (5-7) troublesome start.  Thank goodness they beat a bunch of bad teams, and Kansas City rested all of its starters, giving them a break, then missed a sure shot field goal the would have knocked San Diego out of the playoff chase.
 
And this year, more of the same.  Fans forgetting this team had the third easiest schedule in the league.  Failing to see that during this 5-game early season win streak, they beat clubs with a combined (16-37) record.  Failed to understand, the death march they are about to start out on in Baltimore, that the next five teams have a combined record of (38-18).
 
Yes the game is on the field, not a stat sheet, and those games will determine whether this team can make the playoffs.  But how do they really matchup now?
 
Sunday in Baltimore, a beleaguered offensive line must find a way to block Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil the outside rushers.  King Dunlap’s play has slipped at left tackle, while right tackle DJ Fluker has been spotty in protection.  San Diego had trouble with the Broncos and Chiefs rushers, and will with Baltimore’s.
 
The interior of the offensive is young and filled with journeyman, using a 4th different starting center.  And those guys will have to handle the likes of Hloti Ngata, Terrance Cody, Chris Canty, and a host of blitzing linebackers.
 
Frank Reich saw Philip Rivers take early hits last week, and went to the no huddle offense on the 3rd possession.  It saved the game, saved the quarterback, and led to the win.  The Bolts had 15 plays of 10-yards or more to beat the Rams.  They need that to happen again against the Ravens.
 
Ryan Mathews and Branden Oliver ran hard, got yards after contact, and kept the Rams honest.  That has to happen again.
 
San Diego must find a way to get the ball to tight end Antonio Gates, whose production has slipped some.  Ditto for the other tight end LaDarius Green.  The wide receivers will have to be productive too, especially against a banged up secondary.
 
But that’s the rub.  Big plays only come with deeper drops with Rivers; that means the OL has to hold blocks longer; that means the blitz protection has to be solid.  It hasn’t happened consistently since mid season.  Rivers has been sacked 21-times and taken 50-hits, and this has been, for the most part against poor teams.  Now they face a big time defense.
 
The Ravens have 29-sacks and 16-takeaways.  They are giving up just 2-touchdowns a game.
 
This won’t be easy, it might be a loss, it might be the beginning of the end.
 
Like I said in September, the Chargers would be (7-4) at this juncture in the season.  I cannot be optimistic about these last five games either.  Like I say now, they may only be a mid-level football team, which is (2-4) against the good teams they’ve played this year.  And good teams are all that’s left on the schedule.
 
You now know how they got here, and I am telling you where they likely will wind up, out of the playoffs.

 

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