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A few times this year, the San Diego Chargers have had games that I've referred to as "their Super Bowl". These were games that, whether or not the team was going to make it to the playoffs this year, they desperately wanted to win.
One of these was the last game against the Denver Broncos, and that was for the pride of Mike McCoy and the players. This time, it goes even deeper.
The Chargers can't knock the Broncos out of the playoffs, but they can (with some luck) take away their first-round bye or their home field advantage in the playoffs. Playing spoiler, in that way, against a rival is always a great motivation. Add in that it may be the only way for Mike McCoy to keep his job as the head coach of the Chargers and there's even more on the line.
Here's a fun stat. By DVOA, the Chargers have the 13th best offense in the league. The Denver Broncos, by comparison, have the 25th best offense in the league.
With nothing to play for after this week, Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, and the rest of the San Diego Chargers players and coaches can leave it all out on the field. That's a luxury the Broncos don't have.
Look for the Chargers to try and out-score the Broncos, partly to give one more turn in the spotlight for the guys that may be retiring or moving on to other teams next season.
Figuring Out the Offense (Post-Keenan Allen)
There's a reason that the players in the locker room voted Keenan Allen as the Offensive Player of the Year despite the fact that he played in only 8 games. Let's look at a very basic breakdown:
- Total yards (first 8 games): 423.25 per game
- Total yards (next 5 games): 292.2 per game
Yeah. That's a pretty dramatic drop-off, and it was evident by watch the games as well. The San Diego Chargers offense just couldn't get into gear without Allen.
Over the last two games, however, the team seems to have figured out how to move down the field by spreading defenses out and using their bevy of weapons to stretch the defense. They've averaged over 392 total yards over the last two games, which isn't what they were with Allen but is a hell of a lot closer than what they had been.
This won't be the same Chargers team that the Broncos saw a few weeks ago. The defense will probably be worse, but the offense will likely be a lot better.