DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 9: Phillip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers runs for a touchdown against Robert Ayers #91 of the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Bart Young/Getty Images)
Fans of the NFL - in particular, those in the AFC - have to wonder what was on the mind of Chargers QB Phillip Rivers this off-season.
The ringless brother of the heralded top three QBs of the 2004 NFL Draft (Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger), Rivers fell apart over a horrendous six-game losing streak in mid-October to November last season, but finished up looking like the Rivers of old - one of the best pure passers in the NFL.
What's with the Chargers' ability to underachieve, but turn it on toward the end of the year? That's one of those rhetorical questions talking heads will fill five-minute segments answering until training camp, but Rivers was nearly unstoppable in four of the Chargers' final five games, all must-wins. They won all of them, but a 38-10 loss at the hands of Detroit in Week 16, a game in which Rivers tossed two interceptions (two of three he threw in the last five games), essentially knocked them out of the playoffs.
The Chargers are still a team that can contend in what will be a rough-and-tumble AFC West. If Rivers maintains his normal career numbers (history indicates he'll push the 5,000 yard passing mark, along with 63 percent completion and 30+ touchdowns), he'll bring his team back in the hunt.