Schedule Lends Hope to Chargers

The Chargers are reeling after blowing double-digit leads in consecutive games. But cooked? Not yet. San Diego's next three opponents have a combined record of 4-15. Norv Turner's squad needs to start its annual December run five weeks early or it will be Turner's squad no more.

With the bye week providing some timely distance from an epic Monday night meltdown, the Chargers return with a renewed sense of urgency. Because as bad as things have been the last two games, they can turn around just as quickly.

The Chargers have had two weeks to prepare for their next opponent, the 1-6 Cleveland Browns. The Browns are breaking in a new owner and are in the midst of a full-on rebuilding process. There could be no better "get healthy" game.

After that, the Chargers return home to face the Brady Quinn-led Kansas City Chiefs (1-5). The Chargers already won in Kansas City, a 37-20 laugher, and a sweep seems inevitable.

QB Philip Rivers
Kyle Terada/U.S. Presswire
Win those two and the Chargers are back to a healthy 5-3. That is especially impressive in a conference that currently boasts just three winning teams (the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans).

Week 10 brings Vincent Jackson's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have twice as many losses as wins. If the Chargers sweep that favorable three-game stretch, they will carry loads of momentum into their rematch with the same Broncos squad that ushered in this "doom and gloom" atmosphere.

The reasons for optimism are not limited to the schedule. Jared Gaither (groin) and Shareece Wright (ankle) have both returned to practice and will play major roles in the second half of the season. Vincent Brown (ankle) will also come off the temporary injured-reserve list in the next few weeks and give Philip Rivers a target he can trust (unlike Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal). If not, then newcomer Danario Alexander will get his shot.

The chance for success ... and redemption ... is there for the taking. If Norv Turner can not inspire his players to rise up and seize it, it will be his final failure as head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

Lightning Quicks

--If the Chargers rally to make the playoffs, fans will be happy to know Nate Kaeding will not be handling the kicking duties. Kaeding (groin) was placed on injured-reserve this week and will be released once he passes a physical. Nick Novak, who has connected on 80 percent of his field goals since arriving in San Diego last season, now gets to play without the interim tag.

--The Chargers are being investigated by the NFL for allegedly having a Stickum-like substance on the sidelines during Monday's game against the Broncos. If San Diego equipment managers were offering the substance to their players, Ryan Mathews obviously knew nothing about it.

Are the Chargers done already? Join the discussion inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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