Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst

The Chargers punch the clock Wednesday to start on their game plan on how to defeat the Chiefs come Sunday in Kansas City. If the Chargers fail, they are eliminated from the playoff race.

If the AFC West-leading Broncos win, the Chargers are also booted from the postseason party.

Other than that, how's your week, Chargers?

"We just have to go play and win," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "You hope it works out, but we've done things to put ourselves in this situation and we can't count on getting bailed out."

The Chargers were rubbing their rabbit's feet Sunday when the Chiefs were driving for a potential go-ahead score in the waning moments of their game against the Broncos. A loss by Denver would have breathed new life into a team that has played dead for most the year -- hence its 5-8 record.

But Tyler Thigpen's desperate run fell short from the Denver 5, and now it's a tall order for the Chargers to get a playoff invitation.

"We all know what we were hoping for," Rivers said. "And then you think it's amazing that it's been that rough of a year to this point where we're having to sit there and pull for that to happen.

"It's crazy."

What's nuts is thinking the Chargers can win their last three and Denver can drop its final three. The two end the regular season with the Broncos visiting San Diego.

"The key thing we have to focus on is we have to win out," Rivers said. "That's the first thing. If we don't do that, it doesn't really matter.

"We have to go to Kansas City and then hopefully we'll be alive the next week going to Tampa."

QB Philip Rivers
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty


--QB Philip Rivers had a three-touchdown game in the win over the Raiders, despite completing only 10 of his 22 passes for 214 yards. However, Rivers, who has 10 interceptions and three lost fumbles, didn't turn the ball over. It marked the third consecutive game he didn't throw an interception.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson was back on his game early in Thursday's win as the Chargers decided to establish the run. He had 49 rushing yards in the first quarter, which is more than he had in four games this season. Tomlinson finished with 91 yards on 25 carries. Those 25 rushes were just one off his season high.

--RB Darren Sproles was rediscovered Thursday night, which begs this question: Where has he been all year? Sproles, who handles the kick return and punt return duties, caught two passes for touchdowns; he had three catches for 34 yards. This guy needs very little space to make something special happen, and he proved it again last week.

--TE Antonio Gates had nothing to show from Thursday's game -- few would think that would be possible in a Chargers win. But Gates didn't get a sniff as Philip Rivers completed only 10 passes. Gates has only eight catches in his last four games with no touchdowns. But he could be in for a big game Sunday in Kansas City, as on Nov. 9 he went for eight receptions, 66 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Chiefs.

--WR Chris Chambers was brought in last year to be a focal point of the offense, but lately he has been on the outside looking in. Chambers had zero catches against the Raiders, and that gives him one catch over the past two games. Thursday marked the second time this year Chambers has played in a game and not caught one pass.

--WR Vincent Jackson flashed the potential on Thursday that the Chargers had long hoped for. He had a career-high 148 receiving yards, the big catch being a 59-yard touchdown snag. Jackson has shed his inconsistency of late, and when Philip Rivers looks his way, he's not afraid to go in Jackson's direction.

--DT Jamal Williams continues to play at a Pro Bowl level with his knees feeling better as the season wears on. Williams has been given Wednesdays off this season, and as a result the 11-year pro has been fresher down the stretch.

--SS Clinton Hart suited up Thursday despite a neck injury, but he didn't play a down. With the extended rest coming from playing on Thursday, it's expected Hart will play this Sunday.

--OLB Jyles Tucker is suffering from a hamstring injury, which is big in that he relies on his speed to get to quarterbacks. But coach Norv Turner seemed optimistic Tucker would go Sunday.

--OLB Shaun Phillips was going to make a name for himself with Shawne Merriman out for the year after only one game. But Phillips had only half of a sack in the six games leading up to the Raiders contest. Against Oakland, Phillips collected a career-high 2 1/2 sacks.

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