Bolts Look to Wrap Up No. 2 Seed vs. Titans

The Chargers head to Tennessee for a Christmas Day game with the Titans. But they do so after already unwrapping their fourth straight AFC West title.

The Chargers were left for dead at 2-3, but they reach Nashville with a nine-game winning streak and assured of reaching the playoffs.

"We are not thinking about that yet," wide receiver Vincent Jackson said. "We got a great Tennessee team to play on Christmas and a short week. That is all we can worry about now."

Jackson, who has just notched his second straight 1,000-yard receiving season, is among several Chargers anticipating playing the holiday -- in possibly inclement weather.

"It's going to be fun, it's going to be exciting," Jackson said. "It will be nice to get out there and play an old school style of football game."

LaDainian Tomlinson agreed.

"I think it's special," he said. "I wish it could have been at home but it's not bad playing on Christmas in front of a national audience."


QB Philip Rivers
Stephen Dunn/Getty
Those looking in, we see a team which has won 17 straight December games.

"We just never under any circumstance put our head down and say we can't go out there and get things done," Shawne Merriman said.

And to get it done like they have -- in erasing a 3 1/2-game lead by the Broncos -- makes it that much sweeter.

"It makes it a whole lot better, I tell you that much with two games still left," Merriman said. "Now we get a chance to really set a new line of what we need to do (Thursday) and maybe even take a look at getting some guys healthy, including myself."

Merriman, who has been slowed by a foot injury, could see his snaps decrease. But with the AFC's No. 2 seed still on the line -- although the Chargers are in the driver's seat after disposing of the Bengals -- look for the AFC West champs to go all out.

"Well, you want to be playing your best football in December," coach Norv Turner said. "You want to win your division. We have things we still want to accomplish. I like the way our team is competing. We need to continue to get better."

But it will be a challenge Friday, with the Titans still sniffing a playoff berth and the Chargers coming three time zones east.

"It's a short week," Antonio Cromartie said. "Mentally and physically you have got to get yourself ready."

TRENDING: Philip Rivers has thrown three interceptions in his last two games after going four consecutive games without a pick. Rivers has never thrown three interceptions in an NFL game and will look to stretch his streak to 13 straight games with a touchdown pass Friday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6-1 -- Among the reasons for the Chargers taking another AFC West title is their stellar road play. They close their road slate Friday in Tennessee, looking to go 7-1 away from Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers have never won seven road games in a season; last year they were 3-5 en route to an 8-8 record. The Chargers have played in Nashville twice, once when Ryan Leaf led them to a win and they prevailed on the other occasion in overtime.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--DE Jacques Cesaire (elbow) was forced from the game and returned. He will practice sparingly, if at all, this week.

--FS Eric Weddle returned to the lineup after missing two games with a knee injury.

--ILB Kevin Burnett was a late scratch Sunday with a neck injury. He's likely to go against the Chargers.

--C Nick Hardwick is running out of time. The Pro Bowl center was hurt in the season opener, but the team was reluctant to put him on IR after ankle surgery. But he's yet to complete a full week of practice after suffering a couple of setbacks.

--C Scott Mruczkowski sprained his ankle Sunday and it appears to be serious. It's likely he won't go Friday.


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