San Diego Chargers at the Kansas City Chiefs, Saturday, 12/24/2005, 10:00 AM PST
Wild Card playoff football is nothing compared to the atmosphere for two teams clawing for that last playoff spot at the end of the regular season. Truly, when it is said that "this is what it's all about;" then is what it is all about, son. Redemption. To overcome a season's worth of missed opportunities, to feel that sweet week of optimism between Week 17 and the Wild Card week, to slough off the looming disappointment of a season near-lost -- that chance is what these two teams will be fighting for. Hope. They're fighting to make the sun rise on their season one last time. And they'll be going at it like rats trapped in a corner to get at that fleeting opportunity. If you watch no other game this wknd, for sheer distractive entertainment value, this is the one to catch.
The Chiefs and Bolts have been traveling their path to this sort of a game all year long, neither franchise able to rise into the safely playoff-bound echelon of the AFC despite both being able to defeat the defending NFL champion New England Patriots. KC's power running game will go headlong into the Chargers' #1 rated rushing defense. San Diego's defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has been been one of the National Football League's deans of the 3-4 set for years, and what he's been able to do with his defensive personnel has been quite a stirring tale this season. Seriously, outside of vaunted rookie LB/DE Shawne "Lights Out" Merriman and crafty veteran LB Donnie Edwards, can you name any of San Diego's front seven? Can you name any of their defensive lineman? Some great work you done there, Wade.
So, for each of these franchises, they must have this game to see the sun rise on their season for one more week. Even if their playoff chances would be described with the phrase "and-get-some-help," any chance is better than knowing that you'll be home for the Wild Card wknd, and that your season was all for naught. We all want to see the sun rise on our own chances, to feel as though we will find the happiness that we seek at the end of our path.
By SFist Christopher Rogers, contributingthis,