Morning Links: Playoffs odds still slim

SAN DIEGO – Good morning. Bill Barnwell of Grantland says the San Diego Chargers are likely one of the six best teams in the AFC, but still have an uphill climb to make the playoffs because of bad losses to Washington, Houston and Oakland. Barnwell also tabs Keenan Allen for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Barnwell: “The win [Thursday night at Denver] obviously keeps San Diego's postseason hopes alive, but at 7-7, they're still not in great shape to compete. The Chargers lost to the Dolphins in Week 11, which leaves them well behind a key rival for the wild-card spot. Even if the Dolphins lose to the Patriots this week, they would be tied with San Diego at 7-7 and hold the tiebreaker. San Diego would also likely lose a tiebreaker with Baltimore, either through Baltimore's superior conference record or better record in common matchups. If the Chargers go 9-7, they need the Dolphins and Ravens — each currently 7-6 — to finish either 0-3 or 1-2 to end up with eight wins or fewer.

The only other team that could catch a 9-7 Chargers squad would be the Jets, but San Diego would have the tiebreaker thanks to a superior record in the AFC. If the Chargers finish 8-8, they would have to hope the Dolphins and Ravens both go winless while fending off competition from the Jets, Titans, and Steelers. Altogether, even after this win, the odds aren't great.”

If you haven’t watched it already, Philip Rivers’ appearance on the NFL Network after the game, sporting a bolo tie, it’s worth a look. Check out the video.

In this ESPN Insider pieceInsider, NFL analyst Ron Jaworski hands out presents a few days early to some of the top quarterbacks in the league. For Rivers, Jaworski places a power running back under the tree. Jaworski: “Rivers has been playing really well this season, and the Chargers have a lot of good things going on. King Dunlap solidified the left tackle position. I think Ryan Mathews is having a solid season at running back, but their goal-line offense is killing them. I think they would have won a few more games this season with more goal-line dominance. Why run Danny Woodhead down there? They need a guy who's going to move the pile 18 inches. In terms of overall roster construction in the modern NFL, those players don't seem important ... until you get into those situations. You don't always need that big bruiser in the backfield, but when six points are on the line, those are big plays.”

Michael Lev of the Orange County Register writes that the Chargers believed they could beat Denver, even though no one else did.

Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated writes that a host of unlikely heroes led the Chargers to victory, including Ryan Mathews.

Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego writes that the Chargers’ win was extra special for defensive coordinator John Pagano. The Colorado native’s father, Sam Pagano, was on the sideline for the entire game.

Ricky Henne of Chargers.com writes that receiver Vincent Brown played big against Denver.