Are the Los Angeles Chargers the best team in the AFC?
It sounds crazy when you think about it but it just might be true. The Chargers have been looking up at the Kansas City Chiefs all season long. Patrick Mahomes and the high-octane Chiefs offense have grabbed headlines while the Chargers have quietly built themselves into a top 10 team on both sides of the ball.
Prior to Thursday's divisional showdown with the Chiefs, the Chargers ranked eighth in total defense and sixth in total offense. It's a position that no other contender in the AFC can boast. Still, the consensus coming into the NFL's Week 15 schedule was the Chiefs were the team to beat in the AFC.
That status may have been completely shaken up as the Chargers pulled off a miraculous comeback at Arrowhead Stadium. Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers played awful for most of the first half, throwing two interceptions and putting the Chargers' defense in poor predicaments. However, the Chargers defense was able to hold Mahomes and company to 14 points. The Chargers should've been down by multiple scores heading into halftime but managed to escape a bad first half with just a seven point deficit.
Heading into the final half of the fourth quarter, the Chiefs were likely felt comfortable with their 14 point lead. But Rivers would drive the Chargers down the field to pull within a score. A three and out by the Chargers defense gave Rivers the ball one more time and the Chargers offense wouldn't disappoint.
Rivers led the team down the field on an eight-play drive that culminated with Mike Williams securing a touchdown reception with just four seconds left on the clock. Not content with the chance to tie the game, the Chargers went for two and the win. Rivers again found Williams in the end zone for a two point conversion that gave the Chargers the win.
There's still some work to be done by the Chargers and they have to hope the Chiefs stumble in their final two games. The Chiefs still sit in first play by virtue of a better divisional record and have an easier schedule heading into the final two weeks of the NFL regular season.
But the Chargers have the talent on both sides of the ball to match up with any team. They have Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to rush the passer, Casey Hayward & Desmond King II to cover team's wideouts on defense while Rivers has a plethora of weapons around him on offense. One of the league's best backs in Melvin Gordon, quality backups in Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson with the forever underrated Keenan Allen and rising star Mike Williams at wideout. The health of Gordon and Allen are big question marks moving forward but once the team gets their superstars healthy, this year's Chargers team could do a lot to lose the stigma of always being the team that couldn't win the big game.