Chargers have no margin for error
COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Welcome to the playoffs, and that's part of quarterback Philip Rivers' message to the team.
The Los Angeles Chargers play a road game against the New York Jets after the Chiefs took a big bite out of the Chargers' playoff apple last week. Los Angeles needs to rebound quickly as a loss in either of the final two games means another season minus the postseason.
The Chargers face the Raiders after the Jets, and the truth is the Chargers can't blink against one or the other.
"I think the big focus is just try to win this week, beat the Jets and then we will worry about the Raiders," Rivers said. "All the scenarios out there, we are aware of them, and they all include us having to win. So really just control what we can control. That will be the big focus."
This comes after the Chargers stumbled in their biggest game of the season, seeing a four-game winning streak and a clear path to the playoffs crushed in a loss at Kansas City.
The Chargers have gotten an extra day to get past that stinker. So with a renewed sense of urgency they must show up against an up-and-down Jets team.
"You have a lot to be fired up about and I would expect the team to have the look of a team ready to bounce back," head coach Anthony Lynn said. "This is a resilient bunch."
It proved that by staying relevant after stumbling to an 0-4 start. In some ways, that made the heartache of the collapse against the Chiefs even more painful.
But those like Rivers remember 2013, when the team rallied down the stretch and all the teams that were supposed to lose did just that.
"A couple of us that were here then ... it feels like that again," Rivers said. "We had a hiccup (against K.C.) but like in '13 we were playing pretty good. And we found a way to get in and win a playoff game in Cincinnati.
"It feels kind of like that now, but we know a lot of things have to happen. What we do know is we have to win this Sunday. That's the one thing in all of them.
"I think the path is there again for us and it's not that crazy. But if you get distracted by that and then don't take care of your business, and it does happen, you are even sicker."
The Chargers' season is on life support. It makes Sunday's game against the Jets not only the biggest game of the year, but the final one with relevance if the Chargers don't win.
SERIES HISTORY: 35th regular-season meeting. Chargers lead series, 21-12-1. In their last meeting, the Chargers blanked the Jets, 31-0, at Qualcomm Stadium in 2014 with Michael Vick getting the start. It will be the Chargers' first road game against the Jets since 2012, a game the Chargers won, 21-17, and recorded a franchise-record 11 sacks.
--The Chargers had four players selected to the Pro Bowl: Cornerback Casey Hayward, defensive end Joey Bosa, wide receiver Keenan Allen and Rivers.
"You are always thankful and it is always an honor whenever you get selected," Rivers said. "I hope I can't play in it, for obvious reasons."
The game in Orlando is held the week before the Super Bowl.
--Running back Branden Oliver is the top backup to Melvin Gordon, and Rivers is eager to see what he has to offer.
"He'll have some fresh legs for this time of the year," Rivers said. "It will be nice to get him out there. He has been patient."
--The Chargers head to the East Coast for the fourth time this season. So far they have lost to the Patriots and Jaguars and beat the Giants.
--With 162 passing yards on Sunday, Rivers will reach 4,000 for the ninth straight season.
--Running back Melvin Gordon fell 3 yards shy of hitting the 1,000-yard mark last year as he was unable to play the final three games with a knee injury. He enters Sunday's game 69 yards from reaching that milestone.
--It's an interesting stat for tight end Hunter Henry, who is lost for the season with a lacerated kidney. In games in which Henry was targeted at least five times, the Chargers were 7-1. In games he wasn't, the team was 0-6.
"Hunter is a good player for us and we need him involved as much as possible," Rivers said. "In the offseason we might say, 'Golly maybe that was something we were missing in some of the games.' I know we hate to lose him."
NOTES: TE Hunter Henry (kidney) was placed on injured reserve. ... G Brett Boyko was signed from the practice squad. ... RT Joe Barksdale (hip) didn't practice Wednesday. ... ILB Jatavis Brown (abdomen) was limited in practice. ... ILB Denzel Perryman (hamstring) didn't work and is out of Sunday's game with the Jets. ... RB Austin Ekeler (hand) was limited. ... --WR Keenan Allen (back) should be able to go this week. ... DT Corey Liuget (knee) did not practice. ... LT Russell Okung (groin) didn't practice. ... C Spencer Pulley (knee) was limited. ... CB Casey Hayward (calf) was a full participant. ... S Adrian Phillips (ankle) was a full participant. ... LB James Onwualu was signed to the practice squad.