Welcome back to the AFC West Report, the end of the regular season edition, and what a wild ending it was. Honestly, could the NFL have scripted that better?
I expected a lot of bland games that had absolutely nothing to offer and instead we got wild high stakes games that changed the landscape of the playoff picture. From the Colts collapse at the hands of the Jaguars (what?) to the crazy afternoon of 49ers vs. Rams and the absolute circus of Raiders vs. Chargers, I was a happy camper.
But let’s take an in-depth look at each team as two head to the playoffs and two rivals home.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers entered Week 18 with a ‘win and you’re in’ scenario as they traveled to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders. What no one could have imagined when entering the matchup is that the Colts would melt, leaving open the possibility that a draw would result in both the Raiders and Chargers reaching the playoffs, leaving the Steelers to be turned off. I mean, we speculated, but it couldn’t be true??? wrong. In one of the most exciting and crazy games of the season, the clock ticked down and Herbert heroically took the team on his back and converted 4th and 10th after 4th and 10th to finally throw a touchdown when the clock showed 0:00 .
We went overtime and it looked like the Raiders (who had obviously been gassed) would be comfortable with a draw. But Brandon Staley inexplicably called a timeout that allowed the Raiders to run into the field goal range and kick a winning field goal, knocking out the Chargers and placing themselves in 6th place in the AFC.
I understand Staley should be the young hot new head coach but it just doesn’t make sense to me – what was he doing??? Staley had two terrible moves in this game: first, going for it in fourth place on their own 18. Who does that? He gave the Raiders 3 points.
The other questionable decision was the overtime timeout:
Unreal. So now the Chargers get to sit on their couch as we head into Super Wild Card Weekend and one of the potential big threats to the Chiefs in the race to the Super Bowl is out. I believe the Chargers were a tough match for the Chiefs if they faced each other in the playoffs – the teams know each other well, the Chargers would definitely have a chip on their shoulder, etc. Now, instead of facing the Bills to stand, they are facing their TV. Staley will be criticized for his moves in this game and he should be.
So looking ahead to the off-season, what should the Chargers do? I think the first is to fix their run defense. Part of the reason they were in the position they were in at the end of the game is that they couldn’t stop the run and that puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the defence. I could also see the Chargers looking at their offensive line. Maxx Crosby feasted during the match so Herbert could always use a little more protection.
Good night chargers. I expect we’ll hear all about how you will win the AFC West next season, but until then enjoy the extended outdoor season.