Number one seeding?

The talk around Chargers Park has switched from the number three seed to a possible first round bye with the New England Patriots losing on Monday night. A Patriots loss to New York coupled with San Diego wins over the final two games would give the Chargers the number two seed in the playoffs and a bye week.

Talk about turnaround. The Chargers, 4-12 a year ago, have turned depression into joy over the span of a single season. The Chargers do not have plans for rest. They can see an opening and are poised to split the gap as LaDainian Tomlinson does on a weekly basis.

"A year ago, it was difficult for all of us," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "But we had a plan, as (general manager) A.J. (Smith) has said. And we followed the plan and we've had some good fortune. We've made plays when we had to. Like I said before, it's exciting to be involved with.

"Our goal is to try to finish as high as we can."

A first round bye will give the team two weeks to prepare for a home playoff game. But to accomplish the unthinkable they have to win this week in Indianapolis first. A win against Indianapolis is important because it would assure the Chargers of finishing with the number three seeding, regardless of what happens with New England.

Schottenheimer and the team are the first to explain that they can only control what they do. A San Diego win ensures they have done their part in the process.

Entering the game on Sunday, the Chargers will be riding an eight game winning streak. They have not had to play a team, however, that is on par with them as both teams sit at 11-3.

The carrot has been dangled thanks to an improbable win by the Dolphins on Monday night.

"The chance of a bye week at this point is pretty slim," quarterback Brees said on Monday, prior to the New England game. "I don't think we lost anything by having the bye week earlier in the season when we on a little bit of a roll then. I don't think any one of us really wanted to stop, but that was an opportunity to get a lot of guys healthy. There's going to be a week off between the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl. You have to deal with that kind of thing."

The possibility exists now that the Patriots have lost and it comes down to Sunday. If New England wins on Sunday and loses to San Fran they keep the number two seed no matter what San Diego does.

Scoreboard watching may not be something the Chargers willingly declare they do but Sunday may be the exception. Of course, it doesn't really matter what New England does if the Bolts are not prepared for the Peyton Manning led Colts.

As often as the one game at a time mantra gets bandied about, it is impossible to stop the discussion.

"The higher seed you can be the better" Brees added.

Others are not baited into the discussion:

"‘One play at a time' forever in my head will be linked to Marty Schottenheimer," linebacker Donnie Edwards said. ". Marty has been preaching this the entire year: one play at a time, one game at a time. Don't look too far ahead of yourselves because if you're not taking care of business today, tomorrow is not going to mean anything."

Although it is inevitable that the masses will figure out every possible combination that gives the Chargers the second seed, or, gasp, the number one seed, the fact remains that the Chargers must handle their own business to put themselves in such an enviable position.

They are playing for playoff seeding and the difference between one home game and possibly two is huge. The way the fans welcomed the Chargers home after this past weekend's game is just a glimmer of the excitement possible within the city.

Lightning Quicks:

Six division titles have been taken, and that "Sensational Six" is also a record-breaker. The six teams – Atlanta, Indianapolis, New England, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Diego – have combined for a 71-13 (.845) record, the best mark through 14 games in a season in history. The next best such record came all the way back in 1968 -- .839 (70-13-1; Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, LA Rams, NY Jets and Oakland).


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