NFL Wire News

Chargers control their own playoff destiny


SAN DIEGO — Some weeks because of the matchups, an NFL game is buoyed on hyperbole and trumped-up story lines. For the San Diego Chargers, that isn’t this week. Not with the Denver Broncos coming to San Diego on Sunday.

“This is one of those games where you don’t need a lot of pep talks,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “It’s playoff time for a lot of teams.”

If the postseason started today, both teams would be in. But that doesn’t mean that Sunday’s game won’t carry high stakes.

The Chargers (8-5) currently hold the No. 6 seed for the AFC playoffs. Win out, and the Chargers are in. And despite the disappointment of losing Sunday to the Patriots, the Chargers are in a better spot than this time last year.

For the Chargers to end their three-season playoff drought in 2013, they needed to win their final four and have the Dolphins and Ravens collapse ahead of them.

Not so now. Their fate is in their hands.

The Broncos (10-3) seek their NFL-record 12th straight divisional road victory. But what trumps that is their quest to clinch their fourth consecutive AFC West title. And with a win, Denver gets that much closer to securing home-field advantage in the playoffs.

It’s the regular-season’s final month with the conference’s top teams squaring off.

“It’s about what you think would be a divisional game in December with a lot riding on it,” Rivers said.

The Chargers are eager to move on after Sunday’s stinker. While the defense was worthy, the offense was in disarray. San Diego was shut out in the second half, scored but one touchdown and didn’t look anything like the unit that had reeled off three straight wins.

Rivers threw for just one touchdown and was kept under 200 passing yards. Him getting sacked and hit numerous other times behind a wobbly line didn’t help.

A running game aids any passing game, but running back Ryan Mathews’ availability this week is uncertain. He didn’t practice with a sprained ankle on Wednesday.

“He’s a good back, a good player,” Rivers said. “When he’s a part of it, it certainly helps.”

Heaven help those not getting excited about this Sunday pairing.

The Chargers, despite trailing the first-place Broncos by two games, remain enthusiastic about controlling their own destiny.

“We don’t need any help,” Rivers said. “We need Chargers help.”

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