KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Every first-year coach has hiccups managing the game for the first time, and that certainly was no different for Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn.
As noted by Don Banks, writing for headcoachranking.com, Lynn struggled in late-game situations early on, burning two timeouts -- including one on a failed challenge -- that left the Bolts with only one timeout at the end of the game against the Denver Broncos.
Lynn also burned another timeout on a failed challenge against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.
However, those growing pains during a disastrous 0-4 start might be the reason the Chargers are where they are now, winners of seven of their last nine games and with a 7-6 record this season.
Lynn has learned on the job, and the Chargers appear more efficient at handling in-game communication between the coaching staff on the sideline and the players on the field.
After getting his first two challenges wrong, Lynn had the next two overturned against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 on a Hunter Henry catch that was initially ruled incomplete, and a sack by Kyle Emanuel in a Week 10 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars that was initially ruled an incomplete pass.
The Chargers have 10 delay-of-game penalties, but only four since Week 7.
For his improvement, Banks named Lynn the top dog for Week 14.
Now let's get to two questions from this week’s mailbag.
What ever happened to Branden Oliver?— Rusty Alexander (@superrusty66) December 16, 2017
@eric_d_williams: Branden Oliver is healthy and has patiently bided his time for an opportunity to get on the field, and it looks like that could happen on Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
However, with Williams out for the season with a broken wrist, Oliver could be active on Saturday as a backup to Melvin Gordon. We’ll see if the time off has kept his legs fresh.
What are the percentages of the chargers making the playoffs in they win/lose. It's gotta be extremely significant— Matt Balzano (@Matthewbalzano1) December 16, 2017
@eric_d_williams: It’s pretty simple -- keep winning and the Chargers have a better chance to get in the postseason as the AFC West champ. However, if the Chargers lose Saturday, they will have to look to other teams for help.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), the Chiefs currently have a 71-percent chance to make the playoffs and the Chargers have a 48-percent chance.
If the Chargers win Saturday, the Bolts’ chances of making the playoffs increase to 81 percent and if they lose, it drops to 17 percent.
According to Fivethirtyeight.com, the Chargers currently have a 35-percent chance to make the playoffs and a 30-percent chance to win the division.
If they win Saturday, that number increases to a 74-percent chance to make the playoffs and a 71-percent chance to win the division. If the Chargers lose, the numbers drop to 10 percent to make the playoffs and 4 percent to win the division.
So a lot is riding on this game for the Chargers.