The question was raised this week of who are the best and worst teams in each division. In no division is the answer more clear than in the AFC West.
The Kansas City Chiefs are the lone remaining undefeated team in the National Football League and may actually be the best team in the NFL. Alex Smith, of all people, is playing like an MVP candidate. In fact, at this point in the season, it would be hard to say anyone else is close excepting maybe Aaron Rodgers.
Meanwhile, our Los Angeles Chargers finally earned their first win of the season on Sunday, but it took facing one of the worst teams in football quarterbacked by one of the worst passers in the game to do it. When it takes playing a team coached by Ben McAdoo and led on the field by Eli Manning to actually win a game, you are not a very good football team.
The Chargers are not without good players. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are arguably the best pass rushing duo there is. Casey Hayward has continued to be one of the most talented and most effective cornerbacks in the league. Keenan Allen is one of the finest route runners we have seen in years. Unfortunately, four great players do not make a great team.
Philip Rivers may one day end up in the Hall of Fame (he has certainly earned it) but at this point in time, he is closer to mediocre than he is to great. Melvin Gordon is not without ability, but ultimately he is a running back that will get only get what is blocked (and not even always that). Antonio Gates is arguably the greatest receiving tight end of all time but age takes its toll on everyone and he is no longer the playmaker he once was. Hunter Henry might be the next great tight end but he will have to be allowed to run more routes if he is to prove that. The offensive line has improved from last year (especially at left tackle with Russell Okung) but ultimately it is not a strength.
Defensively, the Chargers do not have even one starting-caliber safety on their roster. Jahleel Addae is probably the closest they get and he is a liability. The defensive line has some talent outside of its pass rushers in Brandon Mebane, Corey Liuget, and Darius Philon but all three are flawed players in one way or another. The middle linebacker position has been a dumpster fire this year. The less said about it the better. Cornerback opposite Hayward has been mediocre-to-poor, but there is potential there.
The Chargers are a team that has building blocks for the future. They have some elite talent already. And they are not necessarily one of the worst teams in the league, but the AFC West is the strongest division in football and they are by far the worst team in it. Perhaps with a strong offseason, they can crawl out of the cellar and maybe even challenge for a Wild Card spot next year, but for now, they are already out of contention.