Let's rewind the clocks back to three weeks ago today: Denver just asserted itself as the real McCoy in the AFC by ripping San Diego a new one on Monday Night Football, 34-23. The Broncos were sitting mighty high at 6-0 and under rookie coach Josh McDaniel and red-hot QB Kyle Orton, the message was simple: there's a new, emerging elite unit in the AFC.
The Chargers, on the other hand,were on the outside looking in at 2-3, and thanks to a slew of injuries(an 8-week ankle injury to Pro-Bowl center Nick Hardwick in Week 1 vs OAK, a season-ending injury to nose tackle Jamal Williams among the hardest hit to SD), a lackluster O-line and D-line, and a laughable linebacking corp, looked like they were all but fucked; a team that was in complete disarray, and no answers in sight.
It looked like, once again, Norv Turner would have been in the unemployment line come the end of the season, along with General Manager A.J. Smith, Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera, Shawne Merriman, Antonio Cromarte, and whoever else's heads were waiting on the guillotine. Fans (myself included) were calling for a near-cleansing of the Chargers organization, and for Bill Cower and/or Tony Dungy to come out of retirement.
How quickly the tide can turn in football. In three weeks, you could be the team to beat in the Super Bowl, and five weeks later, the analysts would even question if your team could make the wild-card.
After Monday night's 28-10 ass-kicking from the World-Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver's got a new problem in the form of a three-time, AFC West powerhouse San Diego team, and from the looks of Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles, Antonio Gates, Shawn Phillips, and Eric Weddle, they're ready to take back what is theirs. Did I mention that in the span of three weeks the Chargers have gone 3-0, including finally beating a team with a winning record, and that "Lights Out" Merriman is back?
Should San Diego come out with ferosity against the Philidelphia Eagles on Sunday and win, next week's matchup between the Chargers and Broncos will be a no-holds barred slugfest to decide who will take the AFC West crown on national television.
Three weeks to the day, the AFC race was all but wrapped up. As the saying goes (and it should be applied to footbal, how sad that we fans keep forgetting), "it ain't over, til' it's over."