You might be inclined to believe that the LA Chargers simply had their calendars wrong. After four mistake-filled losses, you could forgive the team for thinking that the preseason began in September. After all, that sounds like a mighty fine time to test out a brand-new, unproven kicker.
3 of 4 losses being a conversion, kick, or series away from a win, the 2017 season appears to be another season of “what could’ve been.” But something happened with that script these last three weeks: The Chargers have won.
It might have been difficult for long-time fans, but cheering for the Raiders on Thursday night was the sensible option. With the Chiefs falling to 5-2, the AFC West is still within grasp of all four teams. Every team is still in charge of their own destiny: win out, especially in the division, and you’ve all but printed your ticket to the postseason. The caveat to that, however, is the Chiefs still with a clear advantage.
Deep in a dusty league library, however, there is a manuscript that holds the winning formula to turning 0-4 into postseason gold. The 1992 Chargers did exactly that. That team suffered a massive loss during the pre-season (QB John Friesz went down with a knee injury) and looked to Washington backup Stan Humphries to right the ship. The 2017 Chargers, on the 25th anniversary of that season, lost their first round draft pick before the season, and the team itself is learning under a new head coach’s schemes. It took Humphries a few weeks to build the chemistry and learn the playbook, but the team was a powerhouse once everything started hitting on all cylinders. The ‘92 team won the remaining 11 of 12 games, plus a Wildcard win in the playoffs.
The team that took the field this Sunday completely outmatched the previously impressive Denver Broncos. The Chargers’ best years are when their defense is formidable, and Joey Bosa and company have officially made their footprint in 2017. Offensively, Philip Rivers is cutting down mistakes and can rest easier now that there are multiple playmakers on the field.
Their biggest test will always be ‘next week.’
However, the Patriots are the reality of ‘next week.’
The 1992 guidebook allowed for one more quality loss in the season. That loss was a costly one to the rival Chiefs, who swept the Chargers that regular season. The 2017 Bolts need to steamroll to .500. Then they need to continue gaining momentum. Their postseason odds are slim, but what a treat to even fantasize about that possibility after the first four weeks of the season!
The Chargers need to take care of business against the Patriots in Gillette Stadium.
The defensive show that LA put on today shows that they really, truly believe that they can win. If they keep that mindset and bring the play to back it up, there is not a team playing in today’s NFL that can stand in their way.
-Jason “Hole Lotta Hope” Michaels