Chargers gearing up for playoff run

The Chargers won't be looking past the Bills this weekend – despite the 0-4 record Buffalo holds in road games. The Chargers are more concerned with themselves and their performance to date.

The bye week was one of reflection for this Chargers team. Coming in week nine, a number of patterns were clearly discernible in the teams' play.

The bye week also allowed the team to nurse some of its players back to a reasonable threshold of pain for the stretch run.

Among the areas of contention include special teams and the negative turnover ratio they carry.

Of particular concern to head coach Marty Schottenheimer is kickoff coverage.

The Chargers rank 26th covering punts and 22nd in kickoff coverage. The Bills, meanwhile, rank first in the NFL in kickoff coverage and are near the top of the league in punt coverage.

Buffalo's top-rated special teams flexed their muscles against Kansas City's Pro Bowl return specialist, Dante Hall, who averaged just 18.7 yards on three kickoff returns and 3.5 yards on four punt returns. Hall, who has 10 career touchdowns, never found a running lane.

This week it will be up to Darren Sproles to find room in the open field to create field position.

"I feel like I can do that," Sproles said of getting a long run back against the top ranked coverage unit. "I mean, that's the way you gotta feel. I want to help this team be successful."

"Our goal is to be No. 1 in kick coverage, and he is in our way," Bills linebacker Mario Haggan countered. "We have to step up to the challenge."

"Our kickers give us a lot of help by kicking the ball high and deep, hanging it up and giving us time to cover," Sam Aiken said.

The Chargers unit will have to contend with Terrence McGee, the number one kickoff returner in the league. He averages 31.1 yards per return and despite being hobbled this past week he expects to play.

"Only the best in football," head coach Marty Schottenheimer explained of what the team is up against. "He is a terrific and exciting player."

With the best coming to town, Schottenheimer has threatened the coverage unit, saying jobs are on the line. He was adamant about its lack of intensity and was willing to say he would sign anyone he deemed a better fit if it continued.

"Field position – if you force that team to drive 75 yards it becomes more and more difficult to do that," added Schottenheimer.


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