NFL

NFL AM: Staying Home and Staying Alive

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The Clock is Ticking in San Diego

The Chargers announced on Tuesday they will remain in San Diego through at least 2015, deciding not to exercise the right to terminate their lease at Qualcomm Stadium despite the fact such a move would only cost a very palatable $17.6 million at this point. The Chargers — along with a pair of former Los Angeles tenants, the Raiders and Rams — are considered the leading candidates to fill the vacancy in the nation’s second-largest media market.

The good news is the Bolts are staying put in America’s finest city. The bad news is their patience is wearing thin.

“Calendar year 2015 will constitute the team’s 14th year of work on a San Diego stadium solution,” said Mark Fabiani, special counsel to Chargers president Dean Spanos.

San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, who has been on the job for less than a year, realizes Qualcomm Stadium is obsolete and wants to help the team build a new stadium, so long as it doesn’t put tax payers at risk.

Of course, it would help if the Chargers would build something on the field first. The team is riding a two-game losing streak and will have to win its last two games — on the road in San Francisco and Kansas City — to even have a shot at returning to the postseason.

That road got even tougher this week when it was revealed wide receiver Keenan Allen has a broken collarbone that will keep him out of Saturday’s game against the 49ers. Additionally, starting linebacker Donald Butler was put on injured-reserve this week with a dislocated elbow.

Assuming the Bolts do not win both of their last two games — which, although possible, is unlikely — San Diego will finish with between seven and nine victories for the fifth consecutive season. That extended mediocrity is wearing thin on fans and is not what the team needs to galvanize a community behind a new stadium push.

Bruce Almighty

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is doing everything in his power to let it be known the Cardinals will attack through their air this week despite starting No. 3 quarterback Ryan Lindley, who struggled mightily as a fill-in last week against the Rams.

On Tuesday on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” Arians said: “No, we don’t do any of that game-management stuff. We’re going to sling it.”

Later on Tuesday, on SiriusXM NFL Radio, he added: “We won’t change. We try not to change who we are.”

Arians stopped just short of sending Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll a hand-written letter promising to pass the ball at least 25 times on Sunday.

It is easy to see while Arians is doing everything in his power to prevent the Seahawks from loading up to stop his running game, which has been rolling the last couple weeks behind another fill-in, Kerwynn Williams. The worst-case scenario for the Cardinals is putting Lindley in obvious passing situations against a Seattle defense that ranks No. 1 against the pass.

The stakes are high as the Cardinals look to finish the regular season undefeated at home. An Arizona victory would guarantee the Cardinals the No. 1 seed in the NFC, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs (including the Super Bowl, which will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium).

If the Seahawks win (they are just 4-3 on the road), they will take over the top spot in the NFC West and drop the Cardinals into the wild-card race, meaning Arizona will likely start the playoffs on the road against the winner of the NFC South (which doesn’t sound so bad, either).

The biggest issue for the Cardinals is they need a first-round bye to give Drew Stanton an extra week to rest his sprained knee. Stanton is 5-3 as a starter this season and clearly represents Arizona’s best chance for sustained success in the playoffs.

The good news for the Cardinals is they will get back safety Tyrann Mathieu this week, as the Honey Badger will play with a cast on his hand after missing the last two games with a thumb injury.

“I wasn’t going to miss this one,” Mathieu said.

Bengals Ready for Another Prime-Time Test

If a pass is completed in the forest and no one is there to see it, it was probably thrown by Andy Dalton.

Notorious for shrinking under the bright lights, including an 0-3 record in the playoffs and two disastrous showings on prime-time earlier this season, Dalton will get a chance to shake his shaky reputation as the Bengals host the Broncos this week on Monday Night Football.

It is a big game for Denver, which is still competing for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. But it is even bigger for Cincinnati, which holds just a half-game lead over the Steelers and Ravens in the ultra competitive AFC South.

The Bengals are coming off a dominant 30-0 win over the Browns, but there may be no bigger contrast in sports than facing a Johnny Manziel-led team right before battling a Peyton Manning-led side.

“Peyton is, well, it’s a challenge,” said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. “It’s one where he gets everybody’s attention in this building right away. The player he is, how he carries himself. How he runs things on the field. It’s going to be a great challenge for us, but that’s what it’s supposed to be in December.”

If the Bengals lose to the Broncos, their streak of three straight trips to the playoffs will fall into serious jeopardy. Cincinnati wraps up the regular season in Pittsburgh against a Steelers team that just won in the Jungle, 42-21, a couple weeks ago.

Two straight losses would leave Lewis’ team at 9-6-1. Not only is not that not good enough to win the AFC North, but it will open the door for the Chargers, Chiefs or Bills to claim the No. 6 seed and push Cincinnati out of the playoffs altogether.

The pressure ratchets up this week on Monday Night Football. Dalton doesn’t have to outgun Manning; he just can’t go full-on Johnny Football.

Want to talk more about these and other headlines? Join Michael Lombardo for his weekly NFL Chat on Friday at 2pm EST. But you don’t have to wait until then … go ahead and ask your question now


About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.