NFL: Preseason-Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers
Aug 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; A helmet from a San Diego Chargers player in a preseason NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 17-7. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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Chargers have chance for playoff run

The Los Angeles Chargers started the season 0-4 and looked like a team well on its way to a top-10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Fast forward to today, and the Chargers have won five of seven, getting right back into the thick of the AFC playoff race.

There has been ample talk over the past week about whether Los Angeles will challenge the reeling Kansas City Chiefs for first place in the AFC West. While that would still appear to be a significant hurdle (the Chiefs are up by a game and half, already beat the Chargers in Los Angeles and have an easier schedule remaining), the wild card has suddenly become a wide open affair.

Los Angeles is 5-6 and has a schedule looming that includes home games with the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders. The road games include the sub-.500 New York Jets and a Week 15 battle with the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium, perhaps a contest that decides the division if Kansas City can’t get rolling over the next few weeks.

Even if the West goes to the Chiefs, the Chargers can’t be counted out when you look at the AFC playoff picture. The Baltimore Ravens are currently holding the sixth and final seed at 5-5, and they are favored to beat the Houston Texans on Monday night in Charm City. The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills are also ahead of Los Angeles at 5-5, but both are double-digit underdogs on Sunday, with the Dolphins playing the New England Patriots and Buffalo drawing the Chiefs. Both are on the road.

Should the lines hold true, the Chargers would move ahead of the Bills but stay behind the Dolphins, both due to the head-to-head tiebreakers. Still, Miami is a team that appears to be sinking quickly, while the Chargers are surging.

If Los Angeles wins the games it will be favored in the rest of the way — which will be all of them save against the Chiefs — it would be sitting at 9-7. Looking at the trends and the way the wild card contenders are playing, the Ravens might be the only team that could keep them from getting to the sixth seed.

If the two teams end up tied, it would come down to conference record. At the moment, the Chargers are 3-5 in the AFC while Baltimore is 4-3, giving the Ravens a key advantage.

Regardless, Philip Rivers and the Chargers are play8ing as well as anybody in the AFC outside of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Patriots, making them dangerous as the weather continues to turn for the worst.

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