Media outlets such as ESPN claims that the Chargers are going unnoticed (but how is that if the media is talking about them?), but they've always had the attention of the Colts and its fans. We all know that the Bolts have knocked the Colts out of the playoffs in consecutive years leaving a sour taste in Colts fans' mouths. The most recent AFC playoff standings show the Colts (12-0) and Chargers (9-3) as the #1 and #2 seeds, respectively. The Chargers have won seven straight games after starting the season 2-3.
I bring this question up because of a quote from Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column:
"Best team in football,'' one NFL coach told me Saturday. Don't laugh.
Earlier in his column, Peter King said in so many words that the Bolts "own" the Colts by listing the scores of the last five meetings since 2005 with the Chargers having a 3-2 lead over the Colts. Yes, I know the Chargers have had the Colts' "number" for quite some time, but I have a feeling that things will change if these two squads meet in the playoffs this season.
During the two playoff losses, the Colts were unhealthy and missing two very valuable defensive players: Dwight Freeney in '07 and Gary Brackett in '08. Without those two guys (and a limping Mathis in 2007) the Colts' D made Billy Volek look like a Pro-Bowler without the leagues best pass rushing duo, and Antonio Gates have a field day without an adequate MLB.
The Chargers' 7 game winning streak is second behind the Colts and Saints 12 game winning streak this season. During that time, the Chargers' offense has averaged 31.1 points per game, while the Chargers' defense has given up 15.1 points per game. Pretty impressive, right? It is until you look at who San Diego has played during it's winning streak: the Oakland Raiders (4-8), the Kansas City Chiefs, twice (3-9), and the Cleveland Browns (1-11); while Denver Broncos (8-4), the Philadelphia Eagles (8-4), and the New York Giants (7-5) all have a shot at making the playoffs. The combine record of San Diego's six opponents is 31-41. During the first half of the season, the Colts were given grief for having a cupcake schedule which included the Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5), Miami Dolphins (6-6), and Arizona Cardinals (8-4). Right now the Jaguars are in the driver's seat for a wild-card berth, the Dolphins (along with the Jets) are one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East, and the Cardinals are in cruise control in the NFC West--so much for a cupcake schedule.
Based on the stats of these two teams, it's basically a wash between both offenses that are both in the top 5 in scoring and botttom 5 in rushing yards per game, as well as a wash between both defenses.
So are the Chargers the best team in the NFL? Well, no, but this is coming from a Colts fan. However, I truly believe that San Diego is the team to beat in the AFC with the Patriots' defense being exposed more and more each week, and the Steelers' self-destructing. Even though the Colts are 0-2 against the Bolts in the past two post seasons, I'm a firm believer that the third time's a charm.