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Chargers End Regular Season With A Win


The San Diego Chargers didn't need much from their starters en route to a 23-20 win at the Q yesterday/Sunday. North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris gives a playoff forecast for the hottest team in the N-F-L.

San Diego Chargers are the hottest team in the NFL heading into the playoffs. Joining us on Morning Edition is North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris. The Chargers have won 11 straight, Jay. They beat the Washington Redskins 23-20 at Qualcomm yesterday. Was it smart, do you think, to rest the starters?

JAY PARIS: Oh, absolutely. I probably wouldn't have played any of those guys as long as Norv did with the risk of injury. You only have to look at New England to see what happened to Wes Welcker there. But you know, they played the starters a couple series, a lot of the backups got their varsity letters yesterday getting to play, and they won the game and got out of there healthy. So Norv Turner, the coach, couldn't have turned it up any better.

PAMELA DAVIS: Now as the number two seed, the Chargers have a first round bye. Who are they likely to play in the second round?

PARIS: They could see the Patriots, their old nemesis from the playoffs from a couple times, or the Cincinatti Bengals, the team they beat a couple weeks ago. But you know they're -- every team that the Chargers could face getting to the Super Bowl, none of them are really intimidating. No team is really playing as well as the Chargers. There's not a clear number one seed where everyone is shaking in their boots. Of course, the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning, a great team there, but you know they've shown some blemishes as well. So here we go again with the Chargers with a shot at the Super Bowl and they're fans hoping another post season doesn't end in heartache.

DWANE BROWN: Yeah, we know -- we recall talking about the Chargers early start and the struggle they had. They turned it around, 11 straight wins, what do you think is the key to the Chargers making it to the Super Bowl in about a month?

PARIS: I think the key is defensively. Their offense is off-the-charts good. Philip Rivers and that passing game has few peers in the National Football League. It's gonna come down to defense. You know, it's a cliche, but one we bring out: a defense does win championships cause most playoff teams have a good offense. It's that defense--to be able to turn back teams at critical junctures in games--that really is the difference. So you know the offense that's what the Chargers puff their chest out about, how good that offense is. Now if the defense can follow suit, they could be at the big dance.

DAVIS: Let's talk college ball for a minute. The San Diego State men's basketball team starts conference play tomorrow against nationally ranked New Mexico. How are the Aztecs looking this year?

PARIS: They're looking pretty good. I mean the interconference play, Mountain West conference tonight, they're 11 and 3. This might be one of the most challenging teams Coach Fisher has had over there at San Diego State. And they're gonna get a big test right off the bat with New Mexico, ranked 19th, they've got them at home, but they'll know pretty soon just how good they are. They did get some bad news over the weekend, where Drew Gordon, the UCLA transfer, who was considering going to San Diego State, he picked New Mexico as well. So they'll have plenty of incentive to get past the Lobos.

BROWN: Well, the Aztecs cross town rivals, the University of San Diego's Toreros team also start conference play this week. Are there high expectations, Jay, for the Toreros this season?

PARIS: There're high expectations, but that's a team still trying to find its footing. A lot of new faces over there. They had a tough non-conference schedule, I mean tough against tough caliber teams, and they kinda wobble in at 7 and 9. But they start against Santa Clara this week, and Bill Grier will have those guys ready. They're probably not -- those expectation levels probably aren't as high over there as they are at San Diego State. But keep an eye on the Toreros, though, Bill Grier will get that thing turned around.

BROWN: Well, you know the Padres GM is shopping for players. He doesn't have much money to offer--$5 to $8 million--what do you think?

PARIS: He's shopping over at the 99 cent store, not hitting the Neiman Marcus or even looking for sales at Robinson's or May Company or any of those other ones. This is a strategy of dumpster diving and trying to find bargains, and making due on a shoe string budget. That's just Padres baseball, and it's gonna stay that way for a while. Hopefully he'll have as good a luck as Kevin Towers did at finding those gems at a discount price.

DAVIS: North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris thanks for joining us for this morning.

PARIS: Happy New Year to you.

DAVIS: You, too.

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