The one that got away

The Chargers and Seahawks may be the most talented teams in their respective conferences. The primary difference between the two is that San Diego wins against teams it is supposed to beat, while Seattle has been maddeningly inconsistent all year long.

The Chargers hope both trends continue when they travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the defending NFC champions.

Both teams will have a lot to play for this weekend. If San Diego wins, it assures itself of a first-round bye and maintains its inside track for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. If Seattle wins, it clinches the NFC West and guarantees itself at least one home game in the playoffs.

Given the high stakes, Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer is making sure his team is not looking past the formidable task at hand.

"Our focus is on Seattle to give ourselves an opportunity to get homefield advantage," he said.

Schottenheimer's team had better be focused, because the Seahawks will be coming with their best effort. They have been heavily criticized for losing back-to-back games to division rivals with losing records, falling in Arizona two weeks ago and losing at home against San Francisco last week.

Seattle is also eager to prove it is more than a shadow of the team that went all the way to the Super Bowl last season. Doing so would also break a streak that is now half a decade long - each of the last five teams to lose the Super Bowl has failed to make the playoffs the following season.

As anxious as the Seahawks are to bring that streak to an end, the Chargers will counter that will to win with some desperation of their own. Despite boasting a 5-2 road record, San Diego has a sense of urgency in its quest for the top seed.

"Two games left. The focus is to remain the first seed in the AFC and get the first round bye," LaDainian Tomlinson said.

Seattle will provide a stiff test. Shaun Alexander has a nose for the goal line comparable to that of the Chargers' MVP-to-be, while former Pro Bowl selection Matt Hasselbeck and former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch carry a dynamic passing game.

On defense, Pro Bowl linebackers Julian Peterson and Lofa Tatupu will attempt to negate the one-two punch of Tomlinson and Antonio Gates.

Additionally, Seahawks kicker Josh Brown has already kicked four game-winning field goals this season and would set a new NFL record with one more against the Chargers.

San Diego will do its best to ensure it never comes to that. Having already won the rugged AFC West, the Chargers will now try to take down a former divisional co-tenant that got away.

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