The Chargers embarrassed Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts last night in a game that should signal to fans and the NFL, that the team that has gone to the playoffs and dominated the AFC West for years is back on the scene. Will they prove they are even better than those groups who were summarily bumped from the playoffs too early? It depends on some key injuries, but I think so.
The difference of this year's team is the aggressiveness and confidence of the defense. These guys seem to have matured, and they now "get," and believe in Rivera's schemes. The defensive backs aren't giving up big plays, the defensive line is pushing people back, while the linebackers are playing smart, adjusting to the style of each team they face.
Even with the passing game limited with key receivers out or hobbling around in the secondary, the defense and the solid running game pushed through by Mike Tolbert are enough to give the Chargers multiple ways to win games. This is why they are on their way back to the playoffs and the Colts are sliding downward.
Right now, the Chargers are playing with the confidence of a team that is ready to make a run for, and in, the playoffs. The problem? There are still five games left to go and the suddenly stingy Chiefs refused to give any ground this week. Right now, both teams are 1-2 in the division, so if the Chargers beat the Chiefs and lose no other games, and the Chiefs win out aside from losing to San Diego, the teams will be tied in overall record but the Chargers would posses the superior division record, thus breaking the tie for the division title.
The Chargers have the look of a team ready to win out and take this thing, however, we know anything can happen in the NFL. The upcoming game worries me a bit in that the Chargers, even after having lost to the Raiders earlier this season, could come in a bit overconfident after seeing the horrible performance of the Oakland last week. They still don't appear to have a QB and their spirit looked broken after they fell behind just by three points against Miami. I'm sure they'd love to beat the Chargers though just out of spite. San Diego needs to bring their best for the rest of the season. Luckily, while Norv can't seem to start a season well, he's proven he's adept at keeping the guys focused at the end.
The Chargers now have a chance, and that's all that any team should ask for.