How good are the Los Angeles Chargers?


What a wild season this has been.  And not just for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Teams that looked like they had playoff spots secured (Broncos, Raiders) after just a few weeks are now facing serious questions about the outcome of their seasons.  Other teams that appeared to be headed for a top 5 pick in the draft have suddenly come alive (Chargers, Jets).  Two weeks ago we were ready to hand the Kansas City Chiefs a Super Bowl invite and now some are asking if they will win the AFC west.  Who thought that Jacksonville, Buffalo and Miami would be on target for the playoffs? And what are the Philadelphia Eagles doing on top of the league?

With what has been a rollercoaster ride of a season, you have to wonder how good are the Chargers. It is easy to get excited about a three-game winning streak for the Chargers, but is it really enough for us to say that this team has turned a corner?  Is it enough to say that this team will make the playoffs?

When we take a closer look at the Chargers victories, we have to wonder if the Bolts were handed a favorable set of circumstances or if they rose to the occasion. The first win came against the New York Giants and no one is going to argue that the Giants are a good football team.  But anytime you win on the road in the NFL you have played a great game.

The Chargers second win came against the Oakland  Raiders on a day when Derek Carr appeared to be still recovering from a back injury.  But the Raiders are no slouch and the Bolts beat them in their house.  A hobbled Carr or not. this is a good win.

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The third win came against a spiraling Denver Broncos team. After Trevor Seimian played at a Pro Bowl level to start the season, the injuries to his offensive line has brought him back to earth.  The Broncos appear to be in bad shape as their offense is struggling.  They appear to be headed to the bottom of the AFC West.

Easy wins? Maybe.

In the one game the Chargers had against an above-average team (Miami),  the Chargers would have beat them if not for some errant kicks. Perhaps the Chargers are an above-average team.

If we look at the two games that the Chargers had against quality opponents (Chiefs and Eagles) they were manhandled.

The real question is have the Chargers become better since those early matchups? Has the offensive line matured and are they playing better as a unit.  Has the defense really gelled? Have they begun to play better in Gus Bradley’s system?

This weekend’s game against the New England Patriots should reveal some answers to those questions.  Now while playing the Patriots in new England is no easy task, this appears to be a matchup that has some favorable aspects for the Chargers.

First, the Patriots offense is tops in the league carried by the No.2  passing game. But the Chargers are coming off pitching a shutout and are fifth in the league against the pass.  This should be an interesting battle to watch on Sunday.

On the other side of the ball, the Chargers bring their eighth-ranked passing offense against the worst overall defense and the worst passing defense in the league.  The Patriots D has played better the last couple of games, but it will be interesting to see if the Chargers can exploit this weakness of the Patriots.

How good are they?  I guess we will know after Sunday.