Chargers aiming for nine

Rooting for Indianapolis on Monday night was a small part of the Chargers' plan for the rest of the year. Winning out ranks pretty high on the list.

"Go Indy," quarterback Drew Brees said.

And they got their wish on Monday night when the Colts beat the Steelers. That helps but isn't the real goal. Divisional opponents are coming up.

The Chargers have won four straight and seem to be hitting their stride as the regular season rolls into his final month. On Sunday, they will try to complete a sweep of the Raiders for the second straight year.

After escaping Washington with an overtime win against the Redskins on Sunday, the Chargers are hopeful a foundation has been laid to carry them to the playoffs.

"Anytime you have success like this, it continues to build the confidence of the team, knowing we can finish games," linebacker Donnie Edwards said. "You get wins like that and you get to the point that you expect to find a way to win."

That's what happened in the Redskins game, as the Chargers finally got a break with the game on the line.

Consider that the Chargers' four losses this year have come by a combined 12 points. So they figure if they can start finishing off games -- as they did in Washington -- they will be an even tougher opponent down the stretch.

Those playoff hopes will get another boost as tight end Antonio Gates returns to form. Gates, who sprained his right foot Nov. 20, played against the Redskins but was far from his All-Pro form. He had the key catch in overtime, but only after he had dropped three passes.

No one could remember the sure-handed Gates doing that. But his lack of practice time leading up to the game was revealed in his performance. That doesn't figure to be the case on Sunday against the Raiders.

Gates will be primed to have a good game, in that he didn't the last time the Chargers played Oakland. Gates' two catches for 17 yards were season lows in both categories.


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