A season that has brought so many reminders of how unforgiving the NFL can be now enters its final quarter, the Chargers looking more and more like a team defeated.
Just a season after going 12-4 and advancing to within a game of playing for the AFC championship, they’ve been tossed aside.
They’ve dropped three in a row for the second time in 2019 and have little to play for beyond their own pride.
“Last time I checked, they don’t cancel the season for all the teams that are eliminated,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “We had 16 on the schedule. We signed up for all 16. We play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday and we’ll all be there fighting like crazy to try and go 1-0.”
The Chargers and Jags will meet in Florida as a pair of 4-8 teams. Jacksonville has lost four in a row, and Sunday quarterback Nick Foles was benched in favor of Gardner Minshew.
After losing to Denver 23-20 on a 53-yard field goal by Brandon McManus as time expired, the Chargers still possess one of the oddest stats in the NFL:
Having lost twice as many games as they’ve won, they have outscored their opponents overall 244-241.
The Jaguars have arrived at 4-8 by being outscored by 72 points.
“We’re right on the fence it feels like,” running back Austin Ekeler said. “We’ve been on the fence for, shoot, this entire season almost. It feels like we can’t find a way to swing it.”
Each of the Chargers’ eight losses has come by one score. Two of their victories have come the same way. Only a 30-10 win over Miami and a 26-11 victory against Green Bay have been decided by more than seven points.
The parade of tight losses has helped pave the way for what Rivers called an “extra crazy” season of disappointment.
And four games — the fourth and final quarter — remain. After playing the Jaguars, the Chargers return home to face Minnesota and Oakland before finishing at Kansas City.