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Lose One (or Three) for the Giffer!

NBC had hoped that the exclusivity of the game tonight between the Buffalo Bills and the LA Chargers would feature two top-tier teams fighting for playoff positioning—and perhaps more importantly, the marquee names of the two quarterbacks who have not faced off since 2020: Justin Herbert and Josh Allen.

The Saturday night showdown is being aired exclusively on NBC's Peacock app in another shameless attempt to add subscribers out of the football-watching public. A public that is probably ignorant of this fact and will remain so until attempts to find the broadcast prove fruitless and frustrating.

Besides that marquee lost Justin Herbert two weeks ago when he broke the index finger on his throwing hand against Denver; one more indignity in a season chock-full of them.

The star-studded affair that the NBC executives so hoped would be must see TV arrives threadbare. When exactly the wheels fell off of the Chargers team bus, and their season, is debatable, but no one could have imagined it cratering this spectacularly back in September.

The team that played one-score games all season long finally gave up on fourth quarter suspense in losing 63-21 to the Las Vegas Raiders last Thursday.

The following morning the team announced that coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco had lost their jobs. The shakeup did not stop there. Also let go was defensive line coach Jay Rodgers and, in a surprise move one week later, defensive lineman and team captain Sebastian Joseph-Day.

And so with three games left to play the Chargers will try to put a less-embarrassing product on the field tonight in the hopes of auditioning for next year's team, or wherever they end up.

The team promoted long-time linebackers coach Giff Smith to interim head coach and defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley will assume the defensive play-calling responsibilities from Staley. Quarterback Easton Stick is looking to rebound from turning the ball over three times against the Raiders and will be one of many Chargers auditioning for 2024. Stick is in the final year of his contract.

Stick will take snaps from the third string center Brenden James after losing backup Will Clapp to a season-ending knee injury. He will also have to do so without Keenan Allen again as Allen continues to nurse an injured heel.

Speaking of heels, how much will the Chargers pay Staley to stay at home and play with his children next year? The answer is in somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million.

The season ticket holders will get no such reprieve.

Whoever the next general manager is they are going to have to be more flexible than Staley's pregame cat-cow pose to finagle the salary cap woes that Tom Telesco has bequeathed them.

Got all that? So play hard, but not too hard. Winning games now would only hurt the team's fortunes in the long term—which, if you think about it, would be the most Chargers thing to do.


Bills vs. Chargers Predictions

SEO: NFL Predictions LA Chargers Bills

Bolt Bros Podcast

Kyle Sawyer (Season Record 7-7)

The "Broracle" reads the runes!

LAGUZ. The chargers have gone through a trial of fire but have now taken an ice bath. Tom Telesco and Brandon Staley are no more. While I feel like they were not the only problem, they still were a problem.

This has death of the era brought a new life and new energy into the team.

JERA. With the vacancy at critical positions within the organization there is plenty of buzz as to who will be next in line to take the keys to the kingdom. Each of the top choices have a bountiful energy. And the promise is great from the organization. Even the interim coach Giff Smith and interim general manager JoJo Wooden are promising characters.

MANNAZ. The future of this team is going to be determined now ahead of the Bills game. While we still have a minuscule chance for the playoffs I'm not sure if there is a reason to fight. If anything our own pride is at stake for the identity of the chargers moving forward will be determined in the last three games of the season. 28-21 Bills win.

Bills 28 - Chargers 21


Rivers Lake Yacht Club

Señor Snappy (Season Record 5-6)

The despicable effort against the Raiders last week on TNF marked the lowest point the Chargers have been at pre-Marty and is worth a deep dive that this column isn’t built for. Most of the players who were on the field that night should never play professionally again.

Some will play against the Bills this Saturday, and will likely offer more effort as they are all auditioning for their next gig.

Teams who fire their leaders mid-season often have a good first game (remember the Jeff Saturday Colts last season?) and then revert to the state that ruined everything the next week. These Chargers can’t even be trusted to pull something like that, unless Khalil Mack puts something in the food at the Defense Dinner this week.

Bills 42 - Chargers 13


Señor Salty

Mark White (Season Record 9-4)

The Bills and the Chargers were similarly disappointing for the first two months of the season. From there they have diverged paths like Beyonce and the other members of Destiny's Child; one is arguably the hottest team in football and the other is leaking anonymous quotes about not having enough attention given to certain player's birthdays. It has been a rough week in Charger Land.

Expect no reprieve against the Bills—or their fans. Though most of them are probably Southern Californians who only admire the Bills Mafia shenanigans from afar and know better. The over/under on plastic tables broken during the tailgate is 1.5. You can get the photo for the Gram without separating a shoulder to do it. In LA you can fix that in post.


The Greek Uncles in Chicago

Panos Mamalis and Abe Sexson (Season Record 7-7)

Theia Koula used to say: "The fish rots from the head down."

The Chargers family business has been in disarray, (much) like Makis' gyro stand. You can't run a family business well if the family doesn't look at things critically and ask tough questions.

Keeping a roof over it! Just like the saganaki cheese, Brandon Staley’s two-high safety defense was rarely actually safe.

On the surface, Brandon Staley was an interesting hire: hot shot defensive coordinator of a dynamic defense. But dig deeper and there really is a lack of high-level experience.

Coaching at Division III schools, a couple years as a linebackers coach, one year as defensive coordinator, then, virtually overnight, Staley was made the head coach of a team that seemed to have things in place for success.

But coaching matters: it's not just making the tough decision, you also have to call the right plays and execute them, and that is where he failed.

Ownership hasn't liked being held responsible since Marty Schottenheimer left. The owner's son has been involved in the hiring of head coaches since Marty left, but who is going to hold him responsible?

When Makis’ tzatziki lost its bite and he stopped using fresh ingredients for his gyro, he wouldn't take criticism from his regulars—especially Taki who was on a steady three double pita a day. Eventually, the patrons held him accountable and the business went under.

Chargers' fandom has spoken, but the damage is done. Mediocrity has sunk in because no matter how bad you are, you still make money as an owner in the NFL.

This is not a Dan Snyder situation, but he's gone and the other bad owners have improved their teams. The Spanos family is in the spotlight and need to hire a powerful GM and step back from the football side. The talk of Bill Belichick is unrealistic, because he is too expensive and would demand accountability from everyone, including the Greek ownership.

As for the game against the Bills, bettors expect a bounce back when a head coach gets fired but this situation doesn't apply. The (Easton hockey) Stick and all the injuries seem too much to overcome against a team as good as the Bills who really need to win. Bills roll.

Bills 33 - Chargers 10


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Dec 23, 2023
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