Ben on the Bolts: Chargers vs. Cowboys

Each week after the Chargers play, I plan to use this blog space to look at three things about the team...a question that was answered, a question that was left unresolved, and a new question that was created during the course of the game. Here's the Chargers vs. Cowboys edition:

QUESTION ANSWERED: Is Philip Rivers the NFL MVnP (Most Valuable non-Peyton) for the first quarter of the season? In a quarterback driven league, Rivers is playing better than 30 of the other 31 guys behind center right now. If it weren't for the truly historic opening month by Peyton Manning, Rivers would be a legitimate MVP candidate. At the beginning of the season, Mike McCoy thought it might be possible for Rivers to complete 70% of his passes. He's currently at 73.9% this year after back-to-back weeks of 83.3% completions. Incredible.

QUESTION UNRESOLVED: Can the Chargers make a surprise run at the playoffs this season? Looking at the upcoming schedule, there's a clear path for the Chargers to win 9 games. Take care of business against the Raiders, Jags, and dismal NFC East (Redskins, Giants), and the Bolts would be at 7 wins already. Then you'd just need to steal a couple of victories against the likes of the Colts, Chiefs, Bengals, Dolphins, or (gulp) Broncos. But here's the problem...with the way the AFC has dominated the NFC so far this season, 9 wins isn't going to be enough for a Wild Card. In fact, this may be similar to the 2008 season, when the Patriots went 11-5...and didn't go to the playoffs after losing a tiebreaker. Getting to 9 wins could be realistic for the Bolts. Getting to 12 wins? Not so much.

QUESTION CREATED: What will the Chargers do without LB Dwight Freeney? A torn quadriceps muscle will rob the Chargers of their most dynamic defensive player, adding another hole to a roster already bereft of depth. Teammates continue to sing the praises of Larry English, but the former 1st round draft pick simply doesn't produce when he's on the field. Unless English can finally live up to the potential A.J. Smith saw so many years ago, the Chargers' pass rush could be in a lot of trouble.

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