COMMENTARY | There is no doubt that the San Diego Chargers have an elite, playoff-level offense that's been consistently productive with only a couple hiccups all season.
Finally rid of former coach Norv Turner, Philip Rivers is the third-best quarterback in the league this year -- behind only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. And he's been doing all of this with one of the weakest offensive lines in the league.
Their defense is another matter entirely -- where hiccups turn to acid reflux and in many cases projectile regurgitation. They're so bad that they turned the mediocre Kansas City Chiefs offense into a high-flying superpower.
During the San Diego Chargers pre-game radio show one of the announcers proclaimed that they were expecting a low-scoring affair against the Chiefs. The final score was 41-38 and there were 126 plays from scrimmage totaling almost 900 yards.
The Chiefs' flaws were finally on display for all to see and it's clear that they were a "lucky" 9-0 to start the season. For the second week in a row, the Chiefs had to face teams with good defenses and they showed they weren't up for it.
The Chargers' opponent this week is the Cincinnati Bengals who have an above-average offense and very good defense. The team doesn't play well on the road but they should be able to take care of the Chargers -- even if it is a high-scoring game.
Here's a look at the Chargers in some of this week's NFL power rankings.
Yahoo -- Frank Schwab -- No. 14 (Last week: No. 16)
"This is a pretty good team, and San Diego has four home games left. They probably become a favorite for the sixth seed with a win over the Bengals on Sunday."
It's starting to feel like the weak AFC might have to send a team to the playoffs with an 8-8 record -- a great example of parity gone bad. That would mean the Chargers would have to win at least three games the rest of the season in addition to getting some help from other mediocre teams. I'd be surprised if they find a way to win two games.
NFL.com -- Elliot Harrison -- No. 17 (Last week: No. 18)
"You can hold Seyi Ajirotutu, but you can't stop him. You just can't stop him. Been saying it for weeks: This is your No. 6 seed in the AFC."
That was a great catch on a perfect throw to score the game-winning touchdown against the Chiefs. Again, the problem isn't with the offense. It's with the defense that allowed the Chiefs to score a season-high 38 points.
CBSSports.com -- Pete Prisco -- No. 14 (Last week: No. 20)
"Philip Rivers is a special kind of player and he shows it against the Chiefs. He better hope his line can keep that Cincinnati rush off him this week."
The last couple years, Rivers has looked like he might be headed for a backup role. What a difference a new coach makes that isn't sucking the life out of the team. He looked a little shaky to start the game against Kansas City, but then got in a groove and showed everyone just how to pick apart the Chiefs' defense.
Fox Sports -- Brian Billick -- No. 16 (Last week: No. 21)
"Philip Rivers has officially re-entered the debate of elite quarterbacks. He was 27-of-39 for 392 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday."
He was eight yards shy of having his fourth 400-yard game. And he's doing all of this with good, but not great, receivers, a suspect offensive line and an unimpressive running back. If Rivers can keep playing at this "eff-you, Norv Turner" level, they're just a couple draft picks and free agents away from being a legitimate playoff team.
ESPN.com -- No. 12 (Last week: No. 15)
"The Chargers gained 228 yards after the catch Sunday, their most this season. San Diego was the third team to record at least 10 YAC on 10 catches in a game."
This is a credit to the Chargers' receivers but just as equally is an indictment of the Chiefs defense. Sure, they've got a couple injuries and maybe this was just an off day, but if I were a Kansas City fan, I'd be curbing my enthusiasm for where this team is headed - which right now, looks like they'll be backing their way into the playoffs.
As for the Chargers, there are probably still some fans who think that the team has a decent shot at getting into the playoffs. And while they're not mathematically eliminated yet, they've got five games left and they're all against teams that could beat them.
However, San Diego fans can take comfort in Philip Rivers emergence as one of the league's best quarterbacks.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a sportswriter. You can find him on Twitter @JedRigney.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Philip Rivers
- San Diego Chargers
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Norv Turner
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