By Dave Thomas
Nothing like keeping a little drama along for the ride right to the very end.
With two games left in the regular season, the San Diego Chargers may be trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat.
What looked like a fairly secure playoff berth just a few weeks ago is anything but that as Week 16 of the NFL season comes closer and closer.
When the Chargers take the field in Northern California this Saturday evening against the San Francisco 49ers, they will have one mission to accomplish. It does not have to be pretty to watch, just win. If the Chargers (8-6) lose, they can all but kiss away the idea of making it to the AFC playoffs for the second straight year.
What’s Gone Wrong?
Remember how it looked like the Bolts were in pretty good shape to make the playoffs just two weeks ago? In hindsight, that now seems like it was many weeks ago, especially after reeling off five straight wins early in the season and at one time, leading the AFC West (Denver has since clinched the division crown).
The lack of a consistent running game, the secondary’s inability to come up with some big stops when needed, an offensive line that has fed quarterback Philip Rivers to the wolves at times have proven to be some of the major hurdles to climb in 2014.
Given how San Diego has lost all three of its games to its toughest division foes (twice to Denver, once to Kansas City), it seems inconceivable to think that the Chargers can win in Kansas City a week from this Sunday if the final AFC wild card berth comes down to that game. Of course, before the team and its fans can even think about that possible scenario, the date with the 49ers comes up this Saturday night in front of a primetime audience on CBS.
In a season of horrors for San Francisco (7-7), one might think the Niners would be a pushover for the Chargers. If you have that mindset, think again.
Yes, Jim Harbaugh and company have struggled mightily at times this fall, but the Niners will still look to win their final two games of the regular season and send a statement about going into the 2015 season, a season that may or may not include Harbaugh in the mix. Rumors have the embattled head coach going to Michigan, the Oakland Raiders, the New York Jets and probably just about everywhere here and there in between.
Win And Get Some Help
If the Chargers come away with the win this Saturday night, they will then turn their attention to Sunday’s games.
Ironically, the Chargers will be left with choosing between rooting for the Chiefs or Pittsburgh Steelers (they play Sunday in Pittsburgh with the Steelers sitting at 9-5 and the Chiefs at 8-6). Meantime, Baltimore plays at Houston, with the Ravens also sitting a game ahead of the Chargers at 9-5.
In the final weekend of the regular season, San Diego visits Kansas City, Pittsburgh hosts Cincinnati, while Baltimore is home to Cleveland.
Yes, if you like teams jockeying for playoff positions near the end of the season, sit back and watch these final two weekends.
For the Chargers, it is win both their games and get a Christmas gift or two from those playing Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
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 aExaminer.com.