NFL Power Rankings: Chargers are in mix for AFC West crown after 0-4 start

The NFL is -- and always will be -- a passer-and-pass rusher league.

That's why the Los Angeles Chargers are one of the most-dangerous teams in the league right now. 

They showed on Thanksgiving Day against the Dallas Cowboys on the road just how dangerous that formula can be. Philip Rivers carved up the Cowboys to the tune of 434 yards and three touchdowns, while the pass rush had two sacks and spent the day pressuring Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram didn't get any sacks against Dallas, but their presence was felt, and they have a combined 19 sacks between them on the season.

With Rivers playing at high level, and those two creating pass-rush havoc, it's a formula for success in the modern NFL. That's why the Chargers are a team that the AFC elite doesn't want to see in the playoffs.

The Chargers are 5-6 and one game out of first place in the AFC West, trailing the reeling Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers play the Browns this week and the Redskins next week at home before playing the Chiefs at Arrowhead in Week 15. They have a real shot now to win the division after opening the season 0-4, which would be an amazing turnaround.

They've won five out of seven to get in the mix, and that's put them in my top-10 of the Power Rankings this week in the 10th spot. That might seem high based on their record, but can anybody dispute they are one of the 10 best teams right now?

The Chargers still have problems stopping the run on defense and they are 25th in rushing on offense. Those two numbers have to improve down the stretch if they are to make the postseason and do damage once there.

But they have the right pieces working now. They can throw it with Rivers and they can knock down the opposition's thrower. That's what it takes to win come January.

Biggest Movers
6 Chargers
7 Chiefs
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Eagles They just keep right on rolling and Carson Wentz is getting better. They are the class of the NFC - by far. --9-7-0
2 Patriots It's almost getting boring watching them every week. They just keep on dominating a bad division. --11-5-0
3 Steelers They showed some defensive flaws against the Packers that need fixing if they are to make a real Super Bowl push. At least the offense has come alive. --9-6-1
4 Vikings Case Keenum has proven he should be the quarterback, but now must show it again on the road against Atlanta. The Vikings defense shows up every week. 18-7-1
5 Rams They showed they could play with anybody by dominating the Saints at home. The defense is getting better by the week. 113-3-0
6 Panthers It wasn't pretty against the Jets, but they found a way. Now they face a big division road game against the Saints. 17-9-0
7 Saints The injuries really showed up in the loss to the Rams. The secondary had major issues without two starting corners, and their status bears watching heading into the Carolina game this week. 313-3-0
8 Falcons They are getting the offense going at the right time. They face a big one this week against the Vikings defense. 17-9-0
9 Seahawks They impressed against the 49ers, but face a tough challenge this week against the Eagles. That will test their depleted defense. 210-6-0
10 Chargers Here come the Chargers. They are playing good football right now. That 0-4 start seems like a long time ago. 612-4-0
11 Titans They found a way at Indianapolis, but it wasn't pretty. They just don't get enough from their offense. 39-7-0
12 Ravens The defense is outstanding. But that offense needs to get it going in the passing game or it won't matter. 310-6-0
13 Jaguars They just aren't good enough on offense to be a real threat come playoff time. They can't just think they can line up and run it every play and win. 55-11-0
14 Lions Their schedule gets softer in the coming weeks, which could lead to a playoff push. The defense has to be better, though. 26-10-0
15 Cowboys Things aren't good right now for Dak Prescott. He's got to turn it around quickly, or the season will be over. 210-6-0
16 Bills Why did they ever sit Tyrod Taylor? That's clearly a major mistake now. 16-10-0
17 Chiefs What has happened to this team? They can't score anymore. Was the fast start a mirage? 712-4-0
18 Redskins They head to Dallas this Thursday to essentially play an elimination game. The defense was back on track against the Giants. --7-9-0
19 Packers Brett Hundley played his best game against the Steelers but they need to start winning to stay alive. When does Aaron Rodgers get back to the field? Does he? --6-9-1
20 Raiders Their season is alive after beating a bad Denver team last week. Now they have to build on that victory. --4-12-0
21 Bengals They've won two straight games to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. They now face a must win against the Steelers this week. --6-10-0
22 Cardinals Like Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said: They are still alive. But they face a must-win against the Rams this week. 53-13-0
23 Buccaneers They showed some life in the way they played at Atlanta, but a loss is a loss. They can forget any playoff talk now. 15-11-0
24 Dolphins They are not a good football team right now, and that playoff season from a year ago seems a long time ago. There is a lot of work to be done for 2018. 17-9-0
25 Texans The injuries just caught up with this team and the loss to the Ravens Monday night pretty much eliminates them. Watch out next season. 111-5-0
26 Jets They have to be happy with the way Josh McCown has played, but that's not good for the future at his age. 14-12-0
27 Broncos This season has been a disaster, and it's because of the quarterback position. That's on John Elway. 16-10-0
28 Colts There are some good things going on with this team now that will be important come next year when Andrew Luck comes back. Some of the younger players are improving by the week. --10-6-0
29 Bears With a rookie quarterback, it's all about next year anyway. That means taking lumps like they did against the Eagles. --12-4-0
30 49ers t's time to play Jimmy Garoppolo - no matter what. Find out what he can do as the starter. He's been there a month already. --4-12-0
31 Giants This is a lost season. They are so limited on offense that it gets worse by the week. Can Ben McAdoo survive? --5-11-0
32 Browns Will they win? Can they win? Does it matter if they win? Changes are coming. --7-8-1
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an... Full Bio

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