The San Diego Chargers sit at what many would consider a shocking 4-3. The team was an afterthought in a division everyone handed to the Denver Broncos. Now, eight weeks into the season the Broncos are not the team sitting in first place and the Chargers have proved themselves to be far more than just competent.
The Chargers’ remaining schedule could prove problematic. They have the Chiefs twice, the Broncos twice, and the Oakland Raiders once.
The Chiefs have the best defense in the NFL and currently are undefeated. Although they’re 8-0, it could be argued that the Broncos are the better team. Not to be forgotten are the Raiders, who have already defeated the Chargers this season.
In addition to the divisional matchups remaining, the Chargers have a tough game versus the Cincinnati Bengals and the always-difficult cross country early game against the Miami Dolphins.
If the team is going to have any chance of fighting for a playoff spot they must begin to get healthy. King Dunlap, who had two concussions in a span of four weeks, was back at practice this week and all signs point to him playing this Sunday. Jarret Johnson and Chad Rinehart also appear to be ready to return to action.
With the AFC being down this season, it is conceivable that nine wins could garner a Wild Card spot. The Chargers have winnable games against the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, and the New York Giants remaining. If the team can split with the Chiefs, win the second game versus the Raiders, then the playoffs are a real possibility.
Philip Rivers has returned to form and Ryan Mathews and the running game have been more consistent of late. Keenan Allen is proving to be a steal for a third round pick. Eddie Royal has stepped up and already has more receiving yards than he had last season to go with his six touchdowns.
The defense has to improve. They are giving up 4.8 yards per carry and 105.4 yards per game rushing. The pass defense has not been stellar either. They have given up 27 pass plays over 20 yards, which is tied for fifth worst in the league. Health and youth are both factors in the defense’s numbers and they should get better during the second half of the season.
The Chargers need a few things to go their way, but there is no question they have the resources to make the playoffs. No one will be shocked that three teams for one division could make the playoffs; (the Broncos and Chiefs appear to be locks) they just may be shocked that the division is the AFC West.
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