COMMENTARY | There are only three weeks left in the NFL season and all but a few teams know whether or not they'll be in the playoffs.
The few that are still hopeful are fighting and scratching to get in while the teams that are definitely in or definitely out are just coasting through to the end of the season.
For the San Diego Chargers, technically they're not yet mathematically eliminated, but their playoff fates were sealed weeks ago and they've really just been playing out the string.
However, one thing the team still has to play for is the historic season of their quarterback Philip Rivers. "Historic, Jed?" Yes, historic. I'll explain.
So far this season, Rivers has completed passes at the astonishing rate of 70.3 percent. If the season were to end today, that would be the second-best in the history of the NFL.
The rest of his production is almost as impressive -- having thrown 26 touchdowns with only nine interceptions for over 3,800 yards. The only quarterback performing better is the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning.
Drew Brees comes in a close third with numbers that are almost identical to Rivers, but when you consider the Chargers' terrible offensive line, mediocre running backs and no-name receivers, Rivers really separates himself.
Matthew Stafford has some pretty gaudy numbers as well, but I think we all know that has more to do with Calvin Johnson being one of the best wide receivers of all time than anything else and that if you put just about any other warm body out there at quarterback, Megatron would make him look impressive as well.
But where did this new and improved Rivers come from? Well, I think we've all been in dreadful relationships that suck the life out of us and no matter how hard we try, there's just no way of escaping being dragged down into the mud.
Those are sometimes the hardest relationships to end and in the case of Rivers and Norv Turner, finally the team stepped in and took care of the matter. And with Turner cut loose from the team, it was Rivers who was set free -- from the shackles of incompetent coaching.
Getting out of a bad relationship is its own relief, but most of us also hit the gym a little more often, eat a bit better and focus on our careers. Some of this is out of necessity to distract us from the pain, but a lot of it has to do with improving ourselves with the sole purpose of showing up the other person.
With Norv running the team, it looked like Rivers was on his way to being just another mediocre NFL quarterback like Matt Schaub and Jay Cutler, or possibly an even worse fate: Eli Manning.
But now, not only is Rivers having his best season ever, he's actually made himself a legitimate MVP candidate with really only Peyton Manning as his competition.
Peyton has the glossier numbers -- yards, touchdowns and QB rating -- but factoring in degree of difficulty due to lesser surrounding talent, Rivers nudges ahead.
A quick look at the history of the NFL MVP award shows that the only players who have a realistic shot at winning are quarterbacks or running backs from playoff teams. However, baseball writers used to think that way and they are starting to come around. Slowly.
So, Rivers chances are as close to zero as you can get. But fans can take comfort in finally seeing Rivers turn into the elite quarterback about which they had always dreamed.
This Chargers team can move forward towards building a winner knowing that their quarterback position is taken care of and they can focus on trying to fortify their awful "turnstile" defense.
Rivers himself can finally hold his head up high in the knowledge that he's been one of the two best quarterbacks this year and he's on the brink of history. That'll show the naysayers and the doubters amongst the fans and the media.
And most importantly, that'll show Norv.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a sportswriter. You can find him on Twitter @JedRigney.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Philip Rivers
- Peyton Manning
- San Diego Chargers