Friday, December 28, 2007

Chargers should remain silent

Philip Rivers has received much criticism this week for running his mouth off, but what about Shawne Merriman?

After the Chargers won a physical game at Tennessee three weeks ago, Merriman said in regard to the playoffs:

"There were a bunch of cheap shots out there, but they can get some cheap shots on the sofa at home while they watch us."

He was referring to the Titans sitting home watching the Chargers in the playoffs. What a mistake!

If Tennessee wins Sunday night at Indianapolis (and the Titans are favored), then Tennessee will play the No. 3 seed in the first round of the AFC playoffs.

The Chargers will be No. 3 unless they lose Sunday at Oakland and Pittsburgh wins at Baltimore. That combination is very unlikely to happen.

Sure, the Chargers will be out to "get" Tennessee for the Titans’ apparent dirty play the first time the two teams met.

But Merriman certainly would have been better served to wait until Tennessee was out of the playoffs before saying the Titans could sit home and watch the Chargers in the postseason.

This week’s prediction:

Chargers 31, Raiders 14

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Bowl honors deserving athletes

Two standout East County athletes were honored at the 30th annual Pacific Life Holiday Bowl kickoff luncheon Wednesday.

Alex Arroyo of Grossmont High was awarded the Holiday Bowl Memorial Scholarship, founded in memory of R. Hastings Garland Jr., one of the bowl’s founders and its president in 1982.

Lawrence Walker of Christian High earned the 2007 Kiwanis Most Inspirational Football Player Award in San Diego County.

Arroyo has a cumulative GPA of 4.64, is editor of the campus magazine, a member of the Grossmont Interact Club, Varsity Academic League, Musical Activities Club, and Yearbook staff. He is also a varsity letter winner on the tennis and wrestling teams.

Meanwhile, some of the University of Texas players at Wednesday’s luncheon expressed surprise at how rowdy San Diego Chargers’ fans had been Monday night when the Chargers defeated Denver, 23-3, at Qualcomm Stadium.

They even went so far as to compare Charger fans to the loyal supporters who traditionally pack the stadium for Texas home games.

Arizona State will have more fans in attendance than the Longhorns at Thursday night’s Holiday Bowl, but it shouldn’t make any difference.


Texas 27, Arizona State 24

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chargers shouldn't have to play Christmas Eve Night

Shame on the NFL for planning a game Christmas Eve night in San Diego!

Christmas Eve has replaced Christmas Day as the time many families and churches now get together for the holiday.

Now you have people who have paid upwards of $100 per ticket who must choose on Christmas Eve among family, church or the Chargers-Denver Broncos game at Qualcomm Stadium.

A 1971 Christmas Day playoff game between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs went into two overtimes, reputedly causing many family divorces and quarrels in the process.

This year, you have the NFL saying “tough beans” about those having to choose between football and families.

The solution? How about if the Chargers-Broncos game kicked off at 1 p.m. so players, fans, stadium workers, media, etc. could all be home with their families for Christmas Eve night?

Of course, the stupid 5 p.m. kickoff time is all about ESPN the NFL and the “national” television audience.

In reality, how many people on the East Coast are going to watch a game between two teams in the NFL’s worst division with an 8 p.m. eastern kickoff? (They’d be much more likely to watch a game at 4 p.m. eastern time before getting on with their Christmas Eve activities.)

If/when this game has the worst Monday Night Football rating of the season, the NFL and ESPN should look themselves in the face and say “we screwed up.”

How awful to put faithful fans between a rock and a hard place on what has become the most holy night in the religious world!


Chargers 34, Broncos 17

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Poinsettia Bowl looks like a winner

When the Holiday Bowl first came to be in 1978, many people wanted to name it the Poinsettia Bowl.

Now that the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl is entering its third game, it looks like the bowl slot was well worth the wait.

The Poinsettia Bowl match-up Thursday night between Navy (8-4) and Utah (8-4) is one of the better non-New Year’s Day bowl pairings.

Or would you rather see Oklahoma State (6-6) vs. Indiana (7-5) in the Insight Bowl, or perhaps Alabama (6-6) vs. Colorado (6-6) in the Independence Bowl?

Even the BCS games between USC (10-2) vs. Illinois (9-3) in the Rose Bowl and Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. Kansas (11-1) in the Orange Bowl aren’t all that appealing on a nationwide basis.

Illinois has no business being in a major bowl, and Kansas didn’t even make it to the Big 12 championship game.

Utah boasts one of the nation’s better runners in Darrell Mack of Utah, who rushed 50 times for 248 yards in leading Monte Vista High School to a San Diego Section CIF championship four years ago.

Navy may very well suffer because head coach Paul Johnson has already moved on to become the new coach at Georgia Tech.

Look for the Utes to prevail.


Utah 27, Navy 17

Monday, December 17, 2007

Chargers beating up patsies

The Chargers have made a wonderful playoff run by putting together a four-game winning streak against teams that are a combined 2-23 down the stretch.

OK, take away the four losses against the Chargers and those teams are a combined 2-19.

Or didn’t you notice that:

The Chargers started their winning streak against a Baltimore team that has lost eight straight (and allowed Miami to win its first game of the season Sunday.)

The streak continued against Kansas City, which has lost seven straight.

Then there was a win vs. Tennessee, which has lost four of six.

And finally came Sunday’s 51-14 win against a Detroit team with six straight losses.

Clearly, there are three echelons in the AFC. New England is at Level 1, with Indianapolis and Jacksonville at Level 2. The Chargers lead a Level 3, which also includes Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

In their latest win, the Chargers had plenty to feel good about.

LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles became the first players in team history to both rush for 100 yards in a single game.

The defense forced six turnovers (five interceptions), and Antonio Cromartie set a team record with his 10th interception in a season.

Philip Rivers looked efficient at quarterback, even though he was gimpy.

The weak schedule continues with games against Denver (home on Christmas Eve, ugh!) and at Oakland. Those are two more patsies the Chargers should demolish.

Then will come a home playoff game against a team from Level 2 or Level 3. That’s when we will find out if the Chargers are for real, or just another imposter.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Chargers should tame Lions

Jamal Williams and Shawne Merriman are out with injuries.

There goes the heart of the Chargers’ defense.

Lorenzo Neal is out for the regular season, at least.

There goes a heart of the offense.

Philip Rivers is gimpy.

That’s another important offensive component.

That being said, the Chargers still have an excellent chance to clinch the AFC West when they host the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Look at it this way: The Lions are coming off a game they led the entire way until falling at the end to the powerful Dallas Cowboys.

Sound familiar to what Baltimore did against the New England Patriots two weeks ago?

Don’t forget, Baltimore came out completely flat last Sunday when it got beaten up by Indianapolis.

You shouldn’t be surprised if Detroit suffers the same fate this week; even considering how banged up the Chargers appear to be.


Chargers 30, Lions 17

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chargers: Save antics for home field

Shawne Merriman needs to save his “Lights Out” antics for Qualcomm Stadium.

He incited the crowd last Sunday in Tennessee with his Lights Out dance each of the two times he recorded sacks.

Then, when he injured Titans quarterback Vince Young on what was probably an unintentional hit, he incited the populace even more.

If the Titans did indeed go out to injure Merriman (and they did), it was because they interpreted him as trying to shove it in their collective faces on their home field.

Next time, Shawne, save the theatrics for the home crowd that will cheer you on.

Speaking of antics, Tennessee’s LenDale White learned his lesson after scoring in the fourth quarter to put the Titans two touchdowns ahead. He first mimicked LaDainian Tomlinson, then Merriman.

Gee, I wonder if his taunting spurred the Chargers on to 20 unanswered points on their way to a 23-17 overtime win.

Lesson learned: Minimize the taunting and celebrations … and it will maximize your team’s chances of winning.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chargers may gain AFC's No. 3 seed

Could the Chargers suddenly be looking at a No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs?

Those chances increased Sunday when the Chargers beat Tennessee in overtime, 23-17; then Pittsburgh got clobbered by New England.

The Chargers (8-5) are only one game behind Pittsburgh (9-4) for the third seed.

Should the Chargers win out (and they should against Detroit, Denver and Oakland) … then Pittsburgh only needs to lose only one more AFC game for the Chargers to become No. 3.

That Pittsburgh loss could happen as early as this Sunday, when the Steelers play host to an outstanding Jacksonville team.

Since the Chargers and Pittsburgh don’t play each other this season, the next tiebreaker is their record within the AFC. Both are 7-3 now, but another Pittsburgh loss within the conference (such as to Jacksonville) would place the Steelers behind San Diego in the tiebreaker.

The Chargers undoubtedly scored their biggest win of the season at Tennessee. Not only did they come back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter for the first time ever on the road; they also beat a team that still has a (very) slight chance of making the playoffs.

What’s the difference between being seeded third and fourth in the playoffs? No. 3 likely opens with Cleveland, while No. 4 probably plays Jacksonville.

At this point, Cleveland appears to be the better alternative.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Are Chargers playoff worthy?

Whether they deserve it or not, the Chargers are going to make the playoffs.

They can greatly thank the Denver Broncos, who suddenly aren’t good enough to beat even the Bad News (Chicago) Bears … or Oakland Raiders, for that matter.

If you want a true measure of how well the Chargers might fare in the playoffs, just wait till Sunday.

They are being awaited by a Tennessee Titans team that could make or break their wild-card playoff hopes with this weekend’s result.

The Titans have a big name at quarterback in Vince Young, but they are not a big play team.

They are very capable, however, of grinding it out on you with one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

Here’s a fact to consider about the Titans: They are 7-2 when defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth is healthy; 0-3 when he’s not.

Btw, Haynesworth is healthy this week.

The Chargers have appeared healthy their last two games with wins over Baltimore and Kansas City. But that’s like bragging about beating the Little Sisters of the Poor … along with their littler sisters.

This weekend, the true test comes in Tennessee.

Time to find out what LaDainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman, Antonio Gates and the rest of their teammates are all about.


Titans 23, Chargers 20

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Qualcomm Stadium: Good for great college bowl games

Qualcomm Stadium isn’t good enough for the Chargers.

What is it good for?

How about two of the best non-BCS football games this college postseason?

The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl has a great match-up Dec. 27 with No. 12 Arizona State (10-2) vs. No. 17 Texas (9-3).

ASU would have been in a BCS game had Hawaii not made a late comeback to beat Washington last Saturday.

Texas was the national champion two years ago and is still considered among the top names in college football.

As for the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, the Navy (8-4) vs. Utah (8-4) contest Dec. 20 is as good as it gets before Christmas.

Navy is always a great draw in a military town like San Diego, and it has a very formidable team.

Utah, three years removed from a BCS game, scored a 44-6 victory this season over a UCLA team which was in the Rose Bowl hunt until last weekend.

No matter what you say about Qualcomm Stadium, it’s still adequate enough for two of the top bowl games in America.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Chargers looking like Chargers?

The Chargers are starting to look like their old selves again.

Consider that in Sunday’s 24-10 win at Kansas City:

LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense recorded eight sacks; three by Shawne Merriman.

Philip Rivers and the offense recorded only one turnover.

That’s the good news. Now comes the big question:

Can the Chargers beat the better teams in the NFL?

Their last two wins have been against Baltimore and Kansas City, two teams with only four wins apiece.

Come this Sunday, they travel to play a Tennessee team that is fighting for its playoff life.

If the Chargers can win this week, perhaps they’re for real. If not, they are still nothing more than a pretender in the NFL.