The Time Is Now

The San Diego Chargers have dug themselves a hole. The hole is steep, seeing as one third of the leagues unbeaten teams lie in their division, not to mention the defending AFC champions. However, the Chargers do have the talent to climb the standings. Personally I can look up and down the Chargers depth chart and feel confident that this can be the team the break the Chargers playoff-free-curse. That depth will be tested this week as the rash of injuries continues.

If Chargers fans have learned anything by watching the Chargers the last two years it is that September games mean next to nothing to this franchise. The Chargers are 7-1 during their last two September stints, not including this season, and have nary a winning season to show for it. The time to gain winning momentum is late in the season. However, if the Chargers want their late season games to matter, they had better start winning now.

As a huge Chargers fan I can think of no better place to right the proverbial ship than in the Coliseum. The Chargers hate the Raiders, and a victory this Sunday would pull San Diego into a tie for third in the division, and drag Oakland down to the AFC West cellar, even with the Bolts. That seems to be a great first step toward creating a winning atmosphere.

This will be a game that will test the Chargers mettle. The Chargers used their last two first round picks, as well as both of their second rounders this year, to fill their secondary with the speed to play man to man. One of the primary reasons for this was the Raiders short passing attack ate up their soft zone coverage schemes of years past. Also, I can think of no better test for Quentin Jammer and Sammy Davis then going one on one with two future Hall of Famers for sixty minutes.

This game will be full of great battles. David Boston, one of the game's premier young receivers, would have gone up against the leagues most recognized eraser in Charles Woodson, had he not been suspended.

There are other battles to take note of:

LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers undisputed heart and soul, will run against Bill Romanowski, the undisputed dirtiest player in the game.

New Bolts youngsters like Jason Ball and Kassim Osgood will get to head to head with Chargers of yester year John Parrella and Terrance Shaw.

The Broncos and Chiefs currently sit comfortably atop the AFC West. However, in this division that comfort is sure to be short lived. But there is not enough room for all of these teams in the playoff race, and Sunday, the Chargers and Raiders will battle to see which of them plans on doing some serious pursuit.

Last year in Oakland, LT's 19 yard touchdown in overtime gave the Chargers their most impressive win of the season. This year, look for the Chargers to turn to LT again, as they look to capture their most important win of this young season. And unlike the mailman, I can guarantee you LaDainian will deliver this Sunday. He will deliver his usual amazing stats, he will deliver the win, and he and his fellow Chargers will take their first step back into the playoff race.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at

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