Last year, before the season began, hopes were high for the San Diego Chargers and their fans that they would have another successful year resulting in their third consecutive AFC West crown. Then the season started. The Chargers started out the season 0-2 and the Broncos 2-0 – oops. The Chargers second loss of the year was the famous game where the Broncos were able top San Diego 39-38 due to a very controversial call by referee Ed Hochuli.
Charger fans were beside themselves calling for Norv Turners head and were already calling the season a disaster. But as someone famous once said, that’s why you play the game, and the AFC West title came down to the final game of the year which resulted in the Chargers blowing out Denver 52-21 and winning the division.
Well here we are just one year later and the Chargers once again find themselves in a must win situation against the Broncos, but this time it’s only week six. San Diego was picked by most to walk through the AFC West and again march into the playoffs. But a funny thing happened on the way to the post season play, the Chargers have started off the season 2-2 and the Broncos are already 5-0. Denver, under new head coach Josh McDaniels, is a the team fired up and it is obvious that they believe in themselves and new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has his much improved squad ranked number two in total defense.
Despite several rumors floating around to the contrary, the San Diego Chargers have gone through their Bye week without making any trades. The only move was today where the Chargers released safety Clinton Hart to make room for them to sign DT Ian Scott, which means that it will be pretty much the same Chargers defense, which ranks number twenty-six in the NFL in total defense, taking the field when the Denver Broncos come to town on Monday night.
The Chargers are hoping the Bye week has allowed some of their many injured players to get healed up and they are banking on renewed overall team intensity. Defenders Jacques Cesaire, Stephen Cooper, Travis Johnson, Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips remained on the sideline during Mondays practice but are expected to return during the week and Antwan Applewhite practiced Monday for the first time since week one of the season. The Charger players had the day off on Tuesday.
Only one of two things can happen Monday night, the Broncos will win the game and go to 6-0 while the Chargers fall to 2-3, a full 3 ½ games back in the AFC West or the Chargers will win resulting in just a two game lead by the Broncos.
The Broncos have already shown they are for real this year. Are the Chargers a Super Bowl caliber team that just got off to a slow start due to injuries or has the window of opportunity begun to close for the current squad? I guess we will all know after the game Monday night.