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Rivers, Chargers see path to playoffs despite 0-4 start

The 1992 Chargers are the only team to start 0-4 and make the postseason since the NFL expanded the playoffs in 1990. The 2017 Chargers are looking to join the party.

The '92 team won 11 of their final 12 games to cruise into the playoffs with first-year coach Bobby Ross. The '17 squad, with Anthony Lynn in his first season, won't have as pretty of a record, but following their 28-6 shellacking of the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles is right in the thick of the playoff hunt despite their disastrous start to the season.

Quarterback Philip Rivers said after the Thanksgiving victory the current iteration is "close" to the 2006-2009 Chargers teams that won AFC West titles.

"We are where we are, but I like where we are trending," Rivers said. "Each game is going to get bigger and bigger. But we've got a chance now, with the next two at home, to put ourselves in the mix. It will be fun in December if we do what we are supposed to do the next few weeks. We are right there, close to what we were in '06 to '09, when we had those opportunities. Then we start the season 0-4 right after I say that but we certainly are capable, but we've got a long way to go."

When you look at talent and schedule, the Chargers appear to have the best shot of sneaking into the final AFC wild-card spot that is up for grabs. L.A. has home games against the Browns and Redskins, followed by trips to K.C and New York (Jets), and finishes up at home versus the Raiders. With Keenan Allen back to torturing defenses, Rivers slinging it around the park, and the best pass-rushing duo in the NFL -- Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram -- the Chargers are the most complete team racing for the last AFC postseason spot. The rest of the clubs have major flaws.

The Baltimore Ravens currently sit in the playoffs at 5-5. The defense is studly, with three shutouts on the year, and they could carry them into the playoffs. Joe Flacco's offense, however, is painful to watch. Consider this: The Ravens shut out the Packers last week, but Green Bay somehow still had the better offense. That's how bad Baltimore has been on O.

The Buffalo Bills (5-5) have been sieve on defense the past three weeks and are fumbling the quarterback situation. Oh, and they got slaughtered by the Chargers, who now own the tiebreaker.

The 4-6 Miami Dolphins are the inverse of the Chargers. Miami has no business owning four wins. There is a decent argument the Dolphins among the five worst teams in the NFL.

The New York Jets have scrapped their way to 4-6, but a painfully tough schedule sets them up to sink down the stretch.

The Cincinnati Bengals haven't impressed on either side of the ball on their way to 4-6. The experience could keep them in the hunt but the offensive line woes are a major defect.

The Oakland Raiders might be the most disappointing 4-6 team in the NFL and own one of the worst defensive units in the league.

The Houston Texans (4-6) have been decimated by injury and are quarterbacked by Tom Savage.

Looking at the landscape, L.A. is the team least-flawed team. Their biggest shortcoming, however, is a perpetual botching of golden opportunities.

The Chargers have a path to the playoffs if they can do what they should down the stretch. But performing as expected has been their toughest challenge so far.

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