Originally written on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 11/2/13

It’s rare for a division in the NFL to push three teams into the playoffs. Usually, the top two teams in any given division beat up on the bottom two enough to put those unfortunate teams out of the running in the playoffs, but occasionally, it does happen. Right now, the strongest division in football is unquestionably the AFC West. The Raiders, the division’s worst performer, is just one game away from the .500 mark, and even they’re in the running for a playoff position. Still, one of the most under-the-radar teams continues to be the San Diego Chargers who have found themselves in good position after an inconsistent start to their season. Philip Rivers often receives much of the blame for the Chargers’ failures when they don’t perform up to par, but he’s also the engine that drives their offense. Without him, the team never gets off the ground. Even so, the Chargers’ defense may take the show by the end of the season. Although they haven’t been particularly spectacular, when they do show up to play, opponents seldom see the endzone. The team’s most complete win came against the Indianapolis Colts in a contest expertly managed by Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense. The defense stopped Andrew Luck from ever threatening to blow up the scoreboard, and the Colts simply couldn’t find a way to get anything going for the entire game. It was more than just a good win, it was a playoff caliber win. Coming off of their bye, the Chargers have their work cut out for them. They still haven’t played the Chiefs or the Broncos, which accounts for four of their remaining nine contests. In addition to those games, the Chargers will face tough tests from the Dolphins, and if the Giants get hot, New York could cause many teams serious problems. With a few big wins, the Chargers will be on the cusp of making a playoff run of their own in spite of one of the toughest divisional schedules in the NFL. If they make the show, watch out. They’ll have faced the toughest the NFL has to offer, and they have the ability to make some serious noise in the postseason. [follow]

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