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NFL Thursday Night; Chargers vs Broncos

The Chargers can be happy with their 5-2 start but the season is about to get significantly tougher. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Chargers at Broncos
Philip Rivers is a deserving MVP candidate. He’s 3rd in passing yards, 5th in completion percentage, 4th in touchdowns, and 4th in TD/INT ratio, trailing only Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady. That’s good company. Furthermore, Rivers ranks as one of the top three quarterbacks in nearly ever QB rating. Whether it’s the traditional QB rating system or advanced metrics, Rivers is at or near the top. He’s having another spectacular season, and so are the Chargers. Though, are we sure San Diego is an elite team?

Let me start with this: I’m not saying the Chargers aren’t elite. I’m simply asking the question. Look at San Diego’s schedule. They have five wins against teams with a combined 9-24 record. Only one of those five teams has a winning record. Yes, one win came at the expense of the defending champs, but even that victory has lost a lot of its luster after the Seahawks took a nose dive two weeks ago. Obviously, the Chargers don’t set their schedule. A team can only beat the teams on the schedule and San Diego has done so. However, two of the better teams on the Chargers’ schedule thus far have been the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs. San Diego lost both, including a home loss to Kansas City.

As the season continues, the Chargers’ schedule increases in difficulty. Of their final nine games, seven will be against teams with a .500 record or better. Currently, San Diego has a 2-2 record against teams with a record of .500 or better. The Chargers point differential in those contests is +19. Compare that to another elite team in the AFC West, the Denver Broncos. Denver owns a 4-1 record against .500 or better opponents and boasts a +60 point differential.

I don’t expect a Chargers victory tonight. Not because they’re overrated or Denver is unbeatable, but because San Diego is coming off a physical division contest on three days rest where as the Broncos are coming off a blowout. And as for my original question about the Chargers being elite or not, the answer is “to be determined.” Just know it won’t be determined tonight. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +8.5

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