November rain

What constitutes a good football team? When people view the New England Patriots, winners of two of the past three Super Bowls, they see a team that certainly has talent but gets the most out of their role players as well. The San Diego Chargers are developing into a similar type of team.

Contributions from week to week vary but the one constant, as with New England, is the play of the quarterback. Drew Brees has not played hot potato with the ball this year, mainly because he has more time to throw. When he has the time, Brees has cocked his arm and fired – on target.

But now is crunch time. Championships are won in November and December. When a team falters, it either means an early exit from the playoffs or missing the bonus round entirely.

The reflection takes us back to 1995 – the last time they had a winning record from November till the end of the year. The following year they ended up at .500 over the final stanzas.

Since then it has been disappointment compounded by ten. They have twice lost all of their games down the stretch – one 0-9 mark and another at 0-8. Five times they have had two or fewer wins. And overall, they are 16-52 since 1995.

It's no coincidence that '95 was the last team the Chargers had a winning record and it was the last time they made the postseason.

History doesn't lie. Play well down the stretch and you will be rewarded.

There is a reason why Lance Armstrong turns it on during the grueling stages of the Tour de France. As he burns the rubber, his opponents wither and collapse on the side of the road. It is no coincidence that he has had the success he has.

"You have to come to play every week, especially this time of year, November, December when teams are thinking about the playoffs," said Brees. "This is when we really need to shine and play our best football. You really want to play your best football in November and December because it is what you can carry over into the playoffs."

All the talk of playoffs is premature. In the AFC, it will take ten wins to even be considered. Therefore, each game is an essential element to the success of the Bolts.

"I have been with Marty for a long time," said linebacker Donnie Edwards. "It is one game at a time. Right now we have the Raiders who we just played last week and from there we will move on. Once you start looking into the future, you can't get today's work done."

This week the Chargers play in Oakland – a team they pummeled into submission three weeks ago. The Chargers remain grounded in their approach the game – business as usual they claim. But the hype surrounding Brees and tight end Antonio Gates has escalated and it is easy to get caught up in the moment and forget today.

"There is a level of excitement," head coach Marty Schottenheimer acknowledged.

Brees says he would stop any interview if it cut into his preparation time, but when is it really too much and how does one know?

This weekend the Chargers can turn a franchise around with a win and begin their trek to the playoffs with a 2-0 mark in November with three home games and three away games to play.

SD Super Chargers Top Stories