No scoreboard watching for Chargers in season finale
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Although the Los Angeles Chargers will need help to get into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, coach Anthony Lynn doesn’t want his players to know whether they got that help until after their game against the Oakland Raiders.
“We need to go out here and get a win,” Lynn said Wednesday. “All of the playoff scenarios really don’t matter if we don’t take care of our business.”
Lynn said the Chargers won’t post updated scores from around the league Sunday on their videoboards at StubHub Center, which is likely to be largely filled with Raiders fans. Unless the Chargers (8-7) complete their impressive turnaround from an 0-4 start and clinch a winning season by beating Oakland, their playoff dreams are dead anyway.
“I think the chances are good, but like I said, we have to win,” Lynn said. “That’s the only thing that matters right now. I like our chances. I hate that we don’t control our own destiny and we need help, but we’ll see.”
Aside from this three-hour media blackout in Carson, Lynn generally believes his players should know where they are in the NFL playoff race on a week-to-week basis, and he encourages them to pay attention to the standings.
“There’s no reason for us to know what the other teams are doing (this week),” Lynn said. “Our hands are going to be full.”
The two scenarios in which the Chargers can grab a wild-card berth are both clear and plausible. They both depend on LA beating the Raiders and the Tennessee Titans (8-7) losing to the playoff-bound Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5), who say they aren’t resting any starters despite being locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC postseason.
If the Titans lose and Baltimore (9-6) beats Cincinnati (6-9), the Chargers are in. If the Ravens lose, the Chargers are still in if the Titans lose and the Buffalo Bills (8-7) beat Miami (6-9).
All of those games will kick off almost simultaneously on New Year’s Eve.
“It seems pretty simple to me,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “The one common denominator is us winning. I can’t find one yet where we can lose and still make it, so we’ve got to take care of our business. Obviously, we’re all playing at the same time. We can only control what we can control. We have a chance to win our ninth game. Nine of our last 12 would be a heck of a bounce-back after making ourselves that 0-4 hole.”
Indeed, Los Angeles has been one of the NFL’s most impressive teams since that rough start, which included two games that came down to failed last-minute field goal attempts to tie it (Denver) or win it (Miami).
The Chargers’ only losses since Oct. 1 were on the road to three playoff-bound teams: the Patriots, Jaguars and Chiefs.
A strong finish to the regular season would be a boost heading into January, even if that month doesn’t include a playoff game. A 9-7 record would match the franchise’s best mark since its last division title in 2009, and it would come with the added degree of difficulty created by relocation and a new coaching staff led by Lynn.
But when the Chargers left the field in Kansas City on Dec. 16 with a 30-13 loss and the end of their four-game winning streak, they knew their fate was out of their hands.
They’ve been scoreboard-watching ever since — and in New Jersey last week, they gathered around Rivers’ phone to watch the end of the Rams’ victory over the Titans, keeping the Chargers in the thick of playoff contention.
Rivers won’t be watching anything but the Raiders on Sunday.
“Whether they show (out-of-town scores) or don’t show them, I don’t think that’s going to be a topic of conversation on the sideline,” Rivers said. “Our biggest opposition is right across the sideline and in between the lines.”
NOTES: Running back Melvin Gordon says he definitely plans to play Sunday despite injuring his ankle last week against the Jets. Lynn and the Chargers’ coaching staff are being more cautious with their workhorse back’s chances, with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt saying backup Branden Oliver could play an important role again this week. … The Chargers signed running back Jalen Simmons to the practice squad and released offensive tackle Andrew Wylie from the practice squad.