Is the Final Chargers Game Meaningless?

CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 26: Norv Turner the Head Coach of the San Diego Chargers watches play during the Chargers 34-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Based on recent quotes I've seen, Norv Turner and Philip Rivers want us to believe (and maybe believe themselves) that this last game is not meaningless. Upon hearing this, my brain immediately goes through flashbacks to the 2005 season. Visions of Drew Brees reaching for a fumbled football, Gerrard Warren jumping on top of him, Brees' arm twisting under the weight, the awkward position that the former Charger QB held his arm as he walked to the sideline and the sound of Marty Schottenheimer saying something like, "10-6 just sounds better than 9-7." I'm traumatized again.

What sort of meaning do these players and coaches find in this game? Norv says it's about players earning or keeping their jobs. Okay, that's fine, but Rivers doesn't have to earn or keep his job. He shouldn't find any meaning in this game. I know I can't find any meaning for him.

Here's what meaning I can find:

  • If the Chargers lose and Raiders win this week, then the Chargers finish in 3rd place in the AFC West. Assuming there is still a 16–game schedule next year, that means the Chargers would play the 3rd–place teams in the AFC South and AFC North. Those would be the Titans (6-9) or Texans (5-10), and the Browns (5-10) or Bengals (4-11).
  • If the Chargers win, or both the Chargers and Raiders lose this week, then the Chargers finish in 2nd place in the AFC West. Again, assuming there is still a 16–game schedule next year, that means the Chargers play the 2nd–place teams in the AFC South and AFC North. Those two teams would be either the Colts (9-6) or Jaguars (8-7), and the Steelers (11-4) or Ravens (11-4). It all depends on how their games shake out; but I'm guessing Jaguars and Ravens.
  • If the Chargers win this week, they will also hand a loss to the Broncos, making Denver 4-12. That would means the Broncos are assured of at least the 4th pick in every round, and possibly the 2nd pick in those rounds depending on how the Bengals and Bills do this week and tie-breaking procedures.
  • If the Chargers lose this week, they will also hand a win to the Broncos making the Denver 5-11. That means the Broncos would be assured of at least the 9th pick in every round and possibly the 2nd pick in those rounds, depending on how the Bengals and Bills do this week and tie-breaking procedures. There's a lot of variability in that pick since 7 teams currently have only 5 wins and I don't know exactly who will win the tie-breakers.
  • If the Chargers win this week, they will be 9-7. In the best–case scenario (this depends on how the Jaguars and the teams with 9 wins fare this week plus any tie-breaking procedures), then Chargers would pick 17th in every round. They would be guaranteed to pick no lower than 20th.
  • If the Chargers lose this week, they will be 8-8. In the best–case scenario (this depends on how the Jaguars and the teams with 7 wins fare this week plus any tie-breaking procedures), then Chargers would pick 15th in every round. They would be guaranteed to pick no lower than 18th.

What meaning do you find in this final Charger game of the season?

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