Here are some differences between the early 5-1 San Diego Chargers and the 0-3 Chargers team that we have seen since:
The 5-1 Chargers won the turnover battle in five of their six games, and only failed to win it when they defeated the Buffalo Bills in a game with zero turnovers by either team.
The 0-3 Chargers have lost the turnover battle in all three games. They have turned the ball over seven times without forcing a single turnover on defense.
During their first six games, the Chargers averaged 378 offensive yards per game.
During their last three games, the Chargers averaged 245 offensive yards per game.
During their first six games, the Chargers averaged 308 yards per game allowed.
During their last three games, the Chargers averaged 410 yards per game allowed.
You can point at the team's 5-1 start all you want, but this is a different Chargers team. They're worse on offense, they're worse on defense, and they're more prone to mistakes. Which team will show up on Sunday?
Different Team (Part Deux)
There's really only one big difference between the early 0-4 Oakland Raiders under Dennis Allen and the 0-5 Raiders team that we have seen since.
Tony Sparano's team plays well. They have a good game plan and they follow it. Their issue is a complete and total lack of (talented) depth. They've played five potential playoff teams and have held their own in the first half of all of them. Check out these halftime scores:
- Raiders 14, Chargers 14
- Raiders 10, Cardinals 14
- Raiders 6, Browns 9
- Raiders 3, Seahawks 24 (more on this below)
- Raiders 10, Broncos 20
I don't think being down 10 to maybe the best offense I have ever seen (Broncos) is condemning, and when you look at the score after the third quarter of the Seahawks game (Raiders 17, Seahawks 24), the halftime score is less damning.
Simply put, this team is playing good football but not a complete game. They have the horses for a sprint, but not a marathon. Teams like that are dangerous, because they can put together a complete game when they win the turnover battle and the time of possession. The Chargers, in their current state, should be afraid of this team.
Another comparison? Okay, another comparison.
First six games Philip Rivers: 138/199 (69.35%), 293 yards/game, 15 TD, 2 INT, 8.82 yards/attempt
Last three games Philip Rivers: 59/95 (62.11%), 198 yards/game, 5 TD, 6 INT, 6.26 yards/attempt
Look, I like Philip Rivers as much as anyone. I have a Philip Rivers jersey and I never buy jerseys. I want the man to succeed. However, sometimes, he needs to be saved from himself. "Bad Philip" shows up when the rest of the team gets worse and that's where we're at now.
Plain and simple, Rivers is not going to save this team or lead them to victory. He'll just be the catalyst if/when the rest of the team begins playing better, and I don't know how that is going to happen.
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