Are the Los Angeles Chargers a Super Bowl contender? One former Charger believes that this team could host the Lombardi Trophy in February.
LaDainian Tomlinson never won a Super Bowl during his NFL tenure, but he has certainly battled against Super Bowl-caliber teams and he has high hopes for the Chargers.
“When you look at this team on paper, it’s not hard to see why,” Tomlinson said on NFL Total Access. “Because you do have the best quarterback in the division and one of the best in the National Football League. The second thing is that defense is going to be nasty again.”
Last season the Chargers had a late-season surge and won six of their last eight games, to finish the year at 9-7. They missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, but it is evident things are trending upward. However, they are certainly not Super Bowl contenders.
Tomlinson was very complimentary of his former team but is being far too generous.
In 14 seasons, Philip Rivers has an overall record of 106-86, has thrown for 50,348 yards, 342 touchdowns and 166 interceptions. He has thrown for over 4,000 yards five straight years, has made consecutive Pro Bowls and has made the playoffs only five times.
But, it’s debatable to declare him the top quarterback in the division and in the league. The other starters in the AFC West are Derek Carr, Case Keenum and Patrick Mahomes. It is unfair to compare Rivers to these three just on experience alone.
The only quarterback out of the group that you can compare Rivers to is Carr. Although, Carr had a down season last year, in 2016 he was very efficient and outplayed Rivers.
Carr played one less game than Rivers, led the Raiders to a 12-4 record, completed 63.8 percent of his passes and had a touchdown-interception ratio of 28-to-6. Rivers’ Chargers finished 5-11, completed 60.4 percent of his passes and had a touchdown-interception ratio of 33-21. His 21 interceptions was a career high.
As for naming Rivers as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, yes he is very talented and many teams would welcome him with open arms. But, he is not on the same level as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger.
Defensively, the Chargers improved immensely. Last season they allowed only 17.0 points per game, third-best in the league. They had success in the pass game only allowing 197.3 yards per game, third in the league, but struggled stopping the run giving up the second most yards per game on the ground.
This upcoming season, other than facing the division they will go head-to-head against the AFC North, NFC West, the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans. Despite their strength of schedule being towards the bottom of the league, their road match-ups against most non-divisional opponents will give them trouble (Buffalo, L.A. Rams, Seattle & Pittsburgh).
Bottom line is Rivers is towards the end of his career and the Chargers are talented, but they do not have enough pieces around Rivers to make a Super Bowl run. Could they compete in the division, absolutely. But, their current roster makes them a playoff team at best.