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Chargers flexed out of NFL Sunday night game

December 9, 2008 | 10:18 am

San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles celebrates a fourth quarter touchdown against the Oakland Raiders.

Unbelievably, the San Diego Chargers are on the brink of playoff elimination -- and they just had a Sunday night game taken away. More on that in a second.

As it stands, the Chargers are three games behind Denver in the AFC West with three to play, meaning the Broncos' magic number is one.

So -- because a wild-card berth is off the table -- the only chance the 5-8 Chargers have is if they win their next two games (at Kansas City, then at Tampa Bay) -- and if the 8-5 Broncos lose their next two (at Carolina, then at home against Buffalo).

That would set up a Dec. 28 showdown between the Broncos and Chargers for all the marbles. If both teams finished 8-8, the Chargers would win the postseason berth by virtue of what would be their superior division record, 4-1 versus 3-3.

OK, now about that Sunday night game. The Chargers-Buccaneers game was to be NBC's Sunday night showcase on Dec. 21. Today, the NFL announced that game was rescheduled for 10 a.m. PST that day, and the Carolina-New York Giants game has moved into the prime-time slot.

A subtle change, but noteworthy.

-- Sam Farmer

Photo: San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles celebrates a fourth quarter touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jody Gomez / US Presswire

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