The Los Angeles Chargers started the season 0-4 when in reality they should have been 2-2. Now, after a 6-2 run, Los Angeles is right back in the playoff hunt.
The Los Angeles Chargers are the ultimate “what-if” team in football. Although the team is sitting pretty with a 6-6 record and tied for AFC West Supremacy, this season could have been so much more.
The team is two muffed field goals away from potentially being 8-4. Throw in a bad last defensive stand against the Eagles and mismanagement against the Jaguars and Los Angeles would be 10-2.
Does the team deserve to be 10-2? Probably not. However, the same case can be made for some of the NFL’s elite. The Philadelphia Eagles have only beaten one team over .500. The Jaguars have benefitted from some good luck and an easy schedule. Los Angeles is easily an eight-win team with the Jaguars schedule, the same can be said for the Eagles schedule.
Admittedly, I was one of the many to give up on the Chargers after their 0-4 start. This seemed to be another case of Chargers misfortune; where the team would blow every possible game in any way possible. Heck, I even called on the team to tank to get a high draft pick.
Now, the Chargers are in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs have absolutely fallen apart. The Oakland Raiders have a tough slate of games ahead of them. All three teams play each other one more time, the Chargers also play the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets.
That smells like a 4-0 finish to me.
The Chargers’ Super Bowl path is as clear as anyone’s
Not only does Los Angeles benefit from a weak tail-end of their season, they have all the tools to get it done.
The defense has emerged as one of the best in the NFL. Although there still are concerns about defending the run, the pass-rush led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram mixed with a sneaky good secondary led by Casey Hayward and Tre Boston can give a lot of teams some problems. Pressure on the quarterback leads to rushed throws. Interception city.
On offense, the Chargers look as good as they have in quite some time. Philip Rivers has turned back the clock and re-entered the elite discussion. Rivers has thrown for 778 yards on 58 of 76 passing for four touchdowns and no interceptions. Rivers has posted a QBR above 100 the last three weeks.
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Opposing defenses should only get more scared of Rivers in the coming week. Rivers is 33-17 in the month of December in his career.
A big part of Rivers’ success has been Keenan Allen. Allen reminded the NFL that he is one of the best wide receivers in the game after missing all of last season with an ACL injury. Allen has caught for a combined 436 yards on 33 receptions for four touchdowns the last three weeks.
In fact, Allen is the first player in NFL history to have 10+ catches, 100+ yards and 1+ touchdown in three consecutive games. Now that is impressive.
Los Angeles still possess a good running game that can take them where they need to be in the right situations. Although the Chargers have relied on the aerial attack in recent weeks, Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler are a good tandem in the backfield. When the passing is not working, there is a viable run game to turn to.
The Chargers are hot, they are talented and they are in the best position to win the remainder of their games. If they do, the rest of the AFC playoff picture better be wary.
While they may not have the greatest of all-time under center in Tom Brady, the front-runner for MVP in Carson Wentz, or an insane linebacker core like Minnesota, they are hot. As we have seen before, the hottest team in the playoffs can do some damage.