Thanksgiving was especially joyous for the Los Angeles Chargers, beating the Ezekiel Elliott-less Dallas Cowboys, 28-6, as the Bolts once again proved they won’t quit on the playoff race with some help from their lackluster division.
Two weeks ago, I noted that the team will probably lose against the Washington Redskins or Kansas City Chiefs. This week, the Chargers play the Cleveland Browns, whose head coach, Hue Jackson, is glad to have 2013 All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon back into the fold after serving suspensions since 2014.
Plain and simple, I don’t think the Browns will win this game. They have a chance if their defense can manage to hold Phillip Rivers and Co. under 25 points, but after the Chargers demonstrated great complimentary football against the Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills, I’m putting my money on Anthony Lynn’s team.
Part of the reason why I believe the Chargers are one of the most underrated teams in the NFL is that they’ve been very competitive against some of the league’s strongest squads. Lynn watched his side barely fall to the Eagles, who also defeated Dallas handily, 37-9. And despite being the only team to lose one game this season, Philly managed a mere 2-point victory over Los Angeles. In a narrow 21-13 win, the New England Patriots also found the Chargers were a tough outfit to trounce.
Injuries notwithstanding, it’s difficult to ignore the weak AFC West division when it comes to the Chargers still being alive in the postseason hunt. Whereas a 5-6 team typically has little likelihood of winning the division, the Chargers find themselves within reach of doing so. The Chiefs, once among the hottest teams in the NFL holding a 5-0 record, have gone 1-5 since then. The Denver Broncos have struggled all year, and the 5-6 Oakland Raiders haven’t lived up to expectations.
Two more in-division games are left for the Bolts: one against the Chiefs on Dec. 16 and the other against the Raiders on Dec. 31. Lynn has these matchups highlighted and will try to convince his players that both games are very winnable, harping on the determined attitude needed to overcome their early-season adversity.
“Even when we were 0-4, no one abandoned ship,” Lynn said, via Chargers.com. “Everyone knew what their responsibilities were and how we were going to get there. Guys just stayed the course.”
Duncan Day is a senior studying print and digital journalism. His column, “Day’s Den,” ran on Wednesdays.