Bolts expect to be healthy for playoff opener

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Even the hottest team in the NFL can appreciate a weekend off.

The San Diego Chargers finished what they said was a productive bye week on Friday, then looked forward to kicking back for two days.

When they return to work on Monday for meetings and a walkthrough, they’ll know whether they’ll face Cincinnati, the New York Jets or playoff nemesis New England in the divisional round the following Sunday.

Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers doesn’t think the weekend off will affect the momentum built up during the Chargers’ 11-game winning streak, which ties for the fifth-longest regular-season streak to enter the playoffs since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

“We’ll get a nice weekend to kind of relax, and then we’ll be back in here Monday and get going,” Rivers said. “When you know the opponent you automatically turn it on that much more already. When you’re talking about three possible teams, you can still get work done as we have. The excitement is there, but then once you know who you’re playing you really zero in.

“One thing we’ve done better the past few weeks is start fast and play once the opening kickoff goes,” Rivers said. “We’ll need to keep the pedal down in that aspect next Sunday.”

The Patriots eliminated the Chargers from the playoffs after the 2006 season, when San Diego imploded in the divisional round after going 14-2 in the regular season, and in the AFC championship game following the 2007 season.

The Chargers beat the Bengals 27-24 on Dec. 20 on Nate Kaeding’s last-second field goal.

The Jets eliminated the Chargers in overtime in the wild-card round following the 2004 season.

Regardless of the opponent, coach Norv Turner said the Chargers will be in the best shape since the season opener.

Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, bothered by plantar fasciitis, and wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who has an Achilles’ tendon injury, rested and rehabbed this week.

Turner says he expects them to be ready to go for Wednesday’s practice.

“We’re going to be awfully healthy, yeah,” Turner said.

The Chargers, who rebounded from a 2-3 start, are the AFC’s No. 2 seed, behind Indianapolis.

Although Turner shortened practices, he tried to keep it as close to a regular week as possible.

“I thought it was outstanding,” Turner said. “We’ve been able to do two things. No. 1, address our own team. That’s the big thing, things where we’ve had breakdowns, things where we haven’t played a certain play as well as we’ve liked to. We’ve been able to spend some extra time and slow it down and really focus on those things.

“The other thing, obviously, we’ve been able to look at the different situations that come up in games and do a little bit, really, against all three teams.”