Winning their last three games has given the Chargers momentum, but there are still questions as to how good this team really is. They’re positioned, with a light schedule, to go on a run for the AFC West crown as well as their first AFC title in Los Angeles and second overall.
This 2018 Los Angeles Chargers team has felt the hype since the end of last season with all of the talent on both sides of the ball, but due to injury and suspension the hype has worn off. This team is no longer looked at to win the AFC West, and in some eyes, are a borderline playoff team again. Here is why they are wrong.
The Chargers offense is third in the AFC in points per game behind Kansas City and New England. They are also the only team in the NFL to score three offensive touchdowns in every game this season. Philip Rivers is the quiet MVP candidate and Melvin Gordon is third in the league in rushing. Austin Ekeler has been fantastic in a limited role, and there are improving signs of a Hunter Henry return by playoff time.
Defensively the team has not lived up to the hype, but there are a few glaring reasons. First of all Joey Bosa has not played a game this year. That makes this defense look entirely different. Corey Luiget was suspended for four games, and Kyzir White has been injured after a good start to his career in L.A.. On the flip side of the coin, Derwin James has been the defensive rookie of the year and Melvin Ingram is still a force.
The Chargers schedule is one of the easiest remaining in football, and with one of the most consistent offenses in football and an ever improving defense, they are ready to hunt down Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes for the AFC crown. The top two teams in the AFC this season and the two most likely first round bye playoff teams are the Patriots and Chiefs. But if there is one team in the AFC that can take them both down it is the Chargers.
The Chargers offense might not be as explosive as the Chiefs, or as experienced as the Pats, but they are more consistent.The deciding factor in a heavily offensive league could be whose defense is best, and outside of the Jags and maybe the Ravens, the Chargers have the best defense out of any real AFC contender. I would take this Chargers team as a collective unit over every team in the AFC with the lone exception of maybe the Pats.
The Chargers are loaded on both sides of the ball and are built with a great mix of talent and experience. This Chargers team has the build to go back to the playoffs for the first time since the beginning of the McCoy era in 2013, and return to the AFC Championship for the first time since the 2007 season.
Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP Photo