Quantity equals quality

A twelve win team in the NFL is getting little respect these days. The stigma for the San Diego Chargers is they haven't beaten enough quality teams. But in a league full of parity, isn't the entire NFL filled with teams that can win on any given Sunday?

If you want to throw some rain on the Chargers' playoff parade, and we aren't talking about the weekend weather forecast, ask them about their record against playoff teams.

While the Chargers won their first AFC West title since 1994, and fashioned an impressive 12-4 mark, they weren't that special against teams qualifying for the playoffs.

The Chargers went against four teams in five games, and won but once. They split with Denver, but lost to the Colts, Falcons and Jets.

But to the Chargers eager for Saturday's first-round playoff game with the Jets, that doesn't mean squat.

"I think teams respect us," fullback Lorenzo Neal said. "Coaches watch film, players watch film. It's no mystery. It's not that we are just getting lucky.

"Maybe people in the media think, `hey, there just not a great team, they don't have a Peyton Manning or a big name guy.'

"But this is a team. I know players and coaches around the league respect us. And we have the opportunity to show the fans, media, players and coaches alike that we are a good team."

Two of the Chargers' five losses to playoff-bound teams were by one point (Atlanta) and in overtime (Indianapolis). They were in the other games as well, which has helped foster confidence for a team that rebounded from 12-4 to 4-12.

"Every team in this league is a tough matchup; there are no easy games," Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees said. "So for us to go 12-4, those 12 wins were hard-fought battles against good teams."

Maybe so. But starting Saturday, the Chargers are going to be seeing plenty of good teams if they keep winning. So far, they haven't proven they can do that on a consistent basis against the NFL's elite teams.

Lightning Quicks:

Rookie TE Ryan Krause made the most of his chance, catching a team-high five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Krause, a sixth-round pick who plays behind Antonio Gates and Justin Peelle, didn't have a reception heading into the game. "A few people know my name; the real Chargers fans out there," said Krause, who was inactive for 14 of the Chargers previous 15 games.

While cooling his jets on the sidelines, Pro Bowl QB Drew Brees was pleased in how his understudies played. "They did very well," Brees said. "Doug is still running around doing his thing and I thought Philip did fine as well. It seemed like we got more plays with Doug in the first half. But both did very well." And how did being dressed minus a uniform on Sunday feel? "It was really tough," he said. "It was fun to encourage the other guys and watch them go out and play the way they did. But it's no fun sitting on the sidelines, that for sure."

By not being active, Tomlinson is still eligible for the NFL record for consecutive games with a rushing touchdown. Tomlinson is at 12, one shy of the league mark held by John Riggins and George Rogers.

The Chargers swept the Chiefs for the first time since 1989.


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