The Lombardi Trophy (AP)
The Chargers will not hoist the Lombardi trophy come Feb. 3. It’s not a lack of talent, as the Bolts are sending eight to Hawaii. It’s not the first-year coach, as Norv Turner guided his team to an 11-5 record and the AFC West crown. It won’t even be a lack of maturity, as San Diego learned from last year's letdown. So why are the Bolts destined to fail?
The Chargers are the hottest team this side of New England as the playoffs approach. Reigning league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson leads the way, fresh off his now-annual December tear.
San Diego even boasts the championship-caliber defense to complement its otherworldly running back. Second-year sensation Antonio Cromartie -- with an NFL-leading 10 interceptions -- lurks in the secondary, as Jamal Williams plugs the middle and Shawne Merriman crashes the gaps. All three are Pro Bowlers.
All of this is good résumé fodder. But it is not enough for the Bolts to win their first Super Bowl in 2008.
The 2007 Chargers would’ve trounced the Chicago Bears last year in Super Bowl XLI. And while this year's team will edge out the depleted Tennessee Titans in a smash-mouth slug fest, the Bolts have far too many roadblocks that lie on their path to Glendale, Ariz.
With key players Merriman (knee), Philip Rivers (knee) and kicker Nate Kaeding (fibula) limping into Wildcard Weekend, the already banged up Chargers will hurt even worse on Monday than they did after their first meeting with the Titans in Week 14. Sunday's playoff rematch will be the most physical game of the postseason. The Chargers will win but will pay a steep price.
The Chargers will then travel to the RCA-ching Ear Dome and attempt to knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.
Not with the deafening crowd noise unraveling Rivers’ emotions and exposing his immaturity. Not with a rested and healthy Marvin Harrison suiting up for the first time since Week 5. I don’t see it happening with Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning picking apart a secondary with big holes up the middle.
Should the Bolts maintain their momentum and knock off the Horseshoes, the mountain of a climb will be undefeatable.
As in the 16-0 Perfect Patriots and their most prolific offense of all-time, undefeatable. A trip to the Northeast in the midst of one of the snowiest seasons on record is the least of the Bolts challenges. Not even a flawless game by an opponent can slow down the Beast in the East.
The Patriots are avenging last year’s gut-wrenching defeat to the Colts in the AFC Championship, when they blew an 18-point lead. The Pats are silencing anyone who dares question their three Super Bowls titles. This New England team is determined to become the first 19-0 team in the history of the NFL and the undisputed greatest team of all time.
Lighting takes the path of least resistance, but the Bolts are looking at the hardest path to the Big Game of any team in the postseason.
A rematch with the hard-hitting Titans, who want blood. A showdown with the NFL champion Colts in Indy. An AFC Championship game at the Razor versus the most formidable team the NFL has ever seen.
Nope, the parade route will have to be put away for another 12 months.
Do you believe the Chargers have what it takes to win The Big One? Thresh it out in our message boards.
Michael Lombardo will chime in on Friday with reasons why this year's Chargers team will go all the way.
John Connelly is a sports reporter for XK San Diego and a contributor to the Scout.com network.