The Chargers reach their showdown with the Denver Broncos at 7-1 and won’t this be fun?
Everyone knows the path to the AFC West title — and maybe the AFC crown — goes through the Rocky Mountains. So on tab for this Denver trip is the Chargers winning there for the second straight time in the regular season.
It won’t be easy — it never is at Sports Authority Field.
Just like it’s no slam dunk being an authority in my field trying to predict the Chargers’ fate.
But here we go again and no, I’m not reading the schedule wrong.
It’s correct that the Chargers are 2-1, and look at this month of Sundays: host the dreadful Jaguars, the Jets the following week, then remember when heading to Oakland was scary and it’s the visiting, and fading, Chiefs at home.
That gets the Chargers to the Colorado date Oct. 23 and it’s easy to see why they’ll be 7-1.
OK, so we’re putting the Bolts before the cart or however that goes.
But really, why shouldn’t the Chargers arrive in Denver with but one blemish? And blowing an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead in the season opener at Arizona still stings.
The Chargers will be among the NFL’s buzz teams when landing in Denver. So what if we’ve fast-forwarded the process?
The Jaguars? They stink. They’ve lost four-straight games by double digits and their rookie quarterback is making his first NFL start Sunday — good luck with that.
The Jets? Really? Their quarterback is a sketchy Geno Smith and do they really pine for the good ol’ days of Tim Tebow? Unlikely, but this is another gift from the NFL and the Chargers will win by two touchdowns.
The Raiders? OK, now we’re chuckling because Lord knows who’ll be their coach by then.
Rookie Derek Carr might be a find at quarterback but there’s little around him. The running game is tougher to find than a Black Hole resident not needing his mouth rinsed. The defense’s best player is Charles Woodson, and if he’s not eligible for AARP, he’s closing in.
The Chiefs, the bunch that got beat by Tennessee? With New England and San Francisco on their plate, they could be a four-loss team when putting their heads down in San Diego.
So put those four victories alongside the trio already in the bank.
It’s out there, 7-1. The Chargers know it, just like we know they won’t say it.
Of course coaches always seek a wet blanket when someone suggests such a run. It’s one-game-at-a-time and coach Mike McCoy spouts that cliché as regularly as he does “next man up” and “position flexibility.”
We get it. And we get that there’s more than a smidgen of truth in McCoy pumping the brakes.
Sunday’s season-ending injury to running back Danny Woodhead, on the heels of losing Ryan Mathews for a month, is significant. General manager Tom Telesco’s signing of Donald Brown to a position with two standouts was a keen move. But Brown will need help.
The pass rush has shown a pulse, and when did we last type that? Dwight Freeney is supplying heat and there’s some fire from the line as well from Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes.
But Melvin Ingram is out until Week 11, and with his hip ailment, there’s no guarantee he’ll be fit then.
Rookie Jerry Attaochu, a camp project that has produced since the season started, is wrestling with a barking hamstring. It’s not good he aggravated it on Sunday, after resting much of the week.
So the trek to 7-1 won’t be stroll.
But it’s a destination that’s obtainable before reaching Denver, when the Chargers’ mark will match — if not trump — the Broncos.
Don’t believe it? See you at the showdown.
Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter at jparis_sports.