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Rivers: “You Have to Win Your Division Games”
Everyone around the NFL respects Philip Rivers not only for his skills, but his incredible football IQ as well.
Like most, Rivers was shocked to hear the Bolts open the season in Arizona since the team ends the preseason hosting the Cardinals just a couple weeks prior.
“Honestly, if I had to guess, just because it being the last preseason game, they would be way down on my list of picks,” he said. “Just because you wouldn’t think that would be the case. I don’t think it’s an issue or a problem. It just wouldn’t have been one of my guesses.”
This season also marks the third straight year the Chargers kick off their season on the back end of the Monday Night Doubleheader.
Immediately after, the Chargers return to Qualcomm Stadium for their home opener against a Seattle Seahawks team they will have also faced earlier in the preseason. Rivers was asked about heading into that game on short rest while the Super Bowl Champs will have had extended days off since they open the previous Thursday night.
“I think the good thing there is if you can find some value is the fact that we’ll have played them in the preseason,” he said. “Again, there won’t be a lot either team shows one another, but at least you’ll have some familiarity personnel wise already from playing them a few weeks prior to that.”
“After the opener, you look to see when your division games are,” he said. “Recently we’ve finished our division games late in the year. This year it’s not so much. We have three in a row kind of early and then we do finish there with Denver and Kansas City two of the last three. So I check for that. I think you have to win your division games. We won four of them last year and found our way to the postseason at 9-7. All games count the same, but you’ve got to win games in your division.”
Many point toward what seems like a tough stretch toward the end of the season. Over the final five weeks, the Chargers travel cross country to play the Baltimore Ravens, play three teams in a row who appeared in last year’s Conference Championship game in the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, and then finish the season on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“There’s no easy schedule; there’s no easy week,” he said. “As I’ve always believed, and we’ve seen the last few years more so, any team can win any week. But that home stretch is definitely a cluster of teams that have won a lot of football games not only recently, but over many years. So it will be a tough finish. But that’s when you need to be playing your best. If we battle through that finish and find ourselves into January, then we’ll be definitely battle tested for sure.”