The LA Chargers are coming out of the bye week with a 4-2 record and a good chance to win the AFC West. On paper, the Bolts are through the toughest part of the schedule and the fact that they have a 4-2 record is very promising.
Before the year began, it was safe to say that a 3-3 record in the first six weeks would have been a welcomed sight and that a 2-4 record would have been understandable. Instead, the Chargers escaped with a 4-2 record and have their easiest games ahead of them.
While it is undoubtedly true that the rest of the season is easier than the beginning, with the season almost halfway over, we have a better idea of the hierarchy in the NFL. Surprisingly enough, the wins that the Chargers have over other great teams might not be as special as we thought even two weeks ago.
Are the LA Chargers wins this season as impressive as we thought?
Quickly, let's go through the four teams that the LA Chargers have beaten thus far this season.
Washington Football Team: The Chargers had a tough road game against the defending NFC East Champions. While the Chargers seemed to be the better team on paper, the Washington defense seemed to be a daunting task, especially in Week 1 with a new coaching staff in place and on the road.
However, this season has revealed that the Washington defense may have been overrated. The front four is solid but the secondary is among the worst in the league. Not only that, but the Chargers knocked Ryan Fitzpatrick out of the game halfway through, forcing Washington to scramble at quarterback.
A win is a win but with the way Washington is playing this season and the upcoming schedule, there is a good chance that the team is 5-12 or worse this season. Not as good as we thought.
Kansas City Chiefs: This has been the biggest disappointment in the entire NFL (not for fans of other AFC West teams) as the Kansas City Chiefs are no longer the unbeatable juggernaut that they were perceived to be.
This is the worst defense that the Chiefs have had in the Patrick Mahomes era which has been forcing the offense to press more than they typically would, leading to turnovers. The Chiefs' offense is still the best when it is humming but it has not been humming. The turnovers (and offensive line) are a legitimate problem.
The Chiefs are still way too good to lose to bad teams and they have done a good job of beating up on the bad teams. However, they have played five teams with a winning record this season and are 1-4 in those games. Buffalo and Tennessee blew Kansas City out of the water.
A 3-4 record puts the Chargers in a good spot to win the division but shows that perhaps the win over the Chiefs was not as impressive as we thought. With the way Kansas City is playing, it is not a stretch to say that they might struggle to get to 10 wins this season.
Las Vegas Raiders: The Las Vegas Raiders started off red hot and then got in a bit of a lull, started by the LA Chargers. After a 3-0 start, the Raiders were thoroughly beaten by the Chargers, thoroughly beaten by the Bears and have since won two straight.
The Raiders are legitimate playoff contenders, we learned that in Week 7 with the team's big win over Philadelphia. While they currently lea the AFC West with a 5-2 record, the Bolts have proven they are the better team.
Cleveland Browns: The LA Chargers narrowly escaped with a shootout victory over the Cleveland Browns, who have not been as good as expected this season. The Browns are 4-3 on the young season and are 1-2 on the road.
The team's four wins are not the most impressive, either. They have beaten four bad teams in the Texans, Bears, Vikings and Broncos. They have lost to every good team they play, losing to Arizona, Los Angeles and Kansas City.
So are these wins less impressive than we thought?
I think the only win we can definitively say is less impressive in hindsight is the win over Washington. Washington is going to pick in the top 10 in the 2022 NFL Draft and if this game happened in Week 10 the Chargers would be touchdown favorites.
However, even with some struggles from the other teams, the other three wins are still impressive. Sure, the Chiefs have been on a bit of a downhill spiral but the Chargers still went into Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs with the game on the line before their downhill spiral accelerated. It might not be as impressive with the Chiefs being 3-4, but it is still a big win.
The win over the Raiders is still impressive as well. Sure, the Raiders are a team that will be fighting for the seventh seed but it was how the Chargers beat them. The Raiders were never really in the game.
The Browns might only be 4-3 and might be 1-2 on the road but they played arguably their best game of the season against the Chargers and still lost. Sure, part of that is because of the horrible run defense but the Chargers still outlasted a playoff team playing at its best while the defense was playing at its worst.
Three of the four wins are still quality wins and the LA Chargers should be able to take care of business against lesser teams to close out the season.