It goes without saying the Los Angeles Chargers have the talent to be a top-five team in the NFL this season. It helps they have a generational talent at quarterback in Justin Hebert, but this is the most balanced LA's roster has been in years following the improvements that were made to the defense and offensive line.
It's clear the front office is trying to maximize the Chargers' championship window while Herbert's still on his rookie contract. Before long (maybe as soon as next year), the former No. 5 overall pick will be making north of $40 million annually.
While the Chargers' roster is stacked with star talent, going to the playoffs isn't a sure thing. Not only is the AFC loaded, but the AFC West reloaded in a big way with the Broncos and Raiders making marked improvements at key positions. And while the Chiefs lost some notable players, they have the ultimate elixir in Patrick Mahomes.
So, with the preseason about to kick into high gear, where does LA rank among the league's elite squads? If you asked Dan Hanzus of NFL.com, he'd place Brandon Staley's group ninth ... behind both the Chiefs and Broncos, respectively.
Are the Chargers disrespected in NFL.com's latest power rankings?
We won't fault any Chargers fans who feel as though LA wasn't given enough credit in these power rankings. For starters, how do the Packers rank No. 5 when they might have a bottom-five receiving corps? While Aaron Rodgers might ultimately overcome that, do most analysts really consider them a top-five team at the moment?
And what about the 49ers placing fourth?! What's up with that? While their roster oozes talent at every position, they're about to start Trey Lance at quarterback. Need we remind Hanzus that Lance has attempted 71 passes (only completed 41 of them) since he was drafted third overall last year? Surely Lance is going to experience growing pains that ultimately limit San Francisco's ceiling this season, no?
We're admittedly high on Lance's potential, but having a team with a quarterback who's started two games in his career inside the top five is egregious.
From an AFC West standpoint, the Chargers being picked as the third-best team in the division is utterly insane. Yes, the Broncos added Russell Wilson, but isn't Herbert better? And they just lost a vital member of their offense in wideout Tim Patrick to a torn ACL. Not to mention Jerry Jeudy has struggled with injuries and Courtland Sutton missed nearly all of 2020 with an ACL.
If LA has to prove itself before it can jump up the rankings, how do the Broncos rank higher when Wilson hasn't even played a game for them yet?
Nothing here adds up, but we digress. All things considered, we'd rather the Chargers be slept on and make their haters eat crow for doubting a team with this much talent.