By Dave Thomas
Nothing like going down to the wire for the San Diego Chargers.
With two games left in the regular season, the Bolts find themselves at 8-6, with road dates left in San Francisco (7-7) and Kansas City (8-6). In essence, the Chargers must win both games and get some help along the way, i.e. Pittsburgh (9-5) and Baltimore (9-5) stumbling.
Just a few weeks back, the Chargers were in pretty good standing when it came to a playoff spot, but an anemic running game, the inability to score points down the stretch of games, and running into the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton in successive weeks has left San Diego on the outside looking in when it comes to the AFC playoffs starting Jan. 3.
While the old cliché of “one game at a time” holds very true, the Chargers are just hoping to get to Kansas City the final Sunday of the month with the opportunity to play themselves into the playoffs.
Niners Have Nothing To Lose
When the Chargers take the field Saturday night against the 49ers, they will be facing a dangerous team that has nothing left to play for other than pride. Face it; those can be the most dangerous teams to battle against.
Making matters more challenging for San Diego is the fact that starting quarterback Philip Rivers is battling a couple of injuries (back, ribs) that could leave him either not 100 percent effective or even watching from the sidelines as backup Kellen Clemens takes the controls. While all indications are as of now that Rivers will play Saturday night, how much of an impact will a hurting back have on his ability to throw and scramble?
Rivers is not likely to have one of his top receiving threats available, as second-year wide receiver Keenan Allen was severely dinged up in last Sunday’s loss at home to Denver.
Allen not only had an ankle injury, but also suffered a broken collarbone. With Allen expected to miss Saturday’s game and quite possibly the following Sunday in Kansas City, look for receivers Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal, along with veteran tight end Antonio Gates to get the bulk of the balls through the air.
Other notable injuries for the Chargers include starting running back Ryan Mathews (ankle) and starting defensive tackle Corey Liuget (ankle), both of whom did not practice on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Chargers need to find a way to score points in the second half of games.
San Diego was held scoreless over the last 30 minutes of its contest two weeks ago with New England, then only tallied seven points in the loss to Denver a weekend later.
If the Chargers are to have any shot at making the playoffs for the second straight season, they must win Saturday night against a dangerous San Francisco team, and then hope Sunday brings good news; specifically losses for Pittsburgh at home versus Kansas City and Baltimore on the road in Houston.
CHARGERS’ INJURY REPORT AS OF WEDNESDAY:
Keenan Allen (wide receiver) – ankle/shoulder – did not practice
Ryan Carrethers (nose tackle) – elbow – full practice
Ladarius Green (tight end) – concussion/ankle – did not practice
Corey Liuget (defensive tackle) – ankle – did not practice
Ryan Mathews (running back) – ankle – did not practice
Philip Rivers (quarterback) – chest/back – did not practice
Mike Scifres (punter) – shoulder – did not practice
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.