COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — The odds are against the Los Angeles Chargers reaching the playoffs after starting the season 0-2, especially given the early strength demonstrated by the rest of the AFC West.
For quarterback Philip Rivers, however, a poor start doesn’t necessarily equate to doom and gloom.
“We have 14 games left, and I just know the years we have been on runs,” Rivers said Wednesday. “We were 3-1 one year and went to 3-2 and then won 11 in a row. Shoot, what were we, 13-3? We were 2-3 out here and then won 11 in a row. And we were 5-5 the championship year that we went to the championship game and won six in a row.
“There’s no worry or concern. There is an urgency, but the guys still have a heck of a positive outlook.”
With a division game against the Kansas City Chiefs set for Sunday, this would be the perfect time to start a winning streak.
Rivers knows that the simplest path to the postseason is to win the division, and while it might be early to make such declarations, the AFC West is shaping up as perhaps the league’s most competitive division this season with the Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders all at 2-0.
“Competitive is a fair word,” Rivers said. “I don’t when the last time, and I know it doesn’t mean anything, but all these power rankings and stuff had three teams in the AFC West that are up there that high.
“You can argue for any of them to arguably be the best team in the league right now. It’s as good as I can remember in some time. We just got to hold up our end now to keep it, get some wins on our side so we truly can speak as if we’re one of the best in the division.”
The Chargers have already lost at the Broncos, falling 24-21 in the season opener, and a second early defeat in the division would test the team’s resilience. But Rivers has seen enough to recognize that both losses could have been wins.
The defense made timely stops in Denver, and forced Miami to kick a late 54-yard field goal in a 19-17 loss in the home opener. The offense ranks 10th in the league in yards per play and has turned the ball over only once.
“This team sees what we are capable of. We’ve shown it in spurts. We haven’t just been playing sloppy bad football,” Rivers said.
“Yes, there are a lot of areas to improve, but there is just so much good there that gives you the belief that we’re going to get it turned around and going in the right direction.”
Rivers wants to build on solid pass protection against a Chiefs pass rush with nine sacks through two games, which is tied with Pittsburgh for second in the league.
The Chargers had success moving the ball against the Chiefs last season, averaging 5.9 yards per play in the two meetings and building up a 27-10 lead early in the fourth quarter of the opener before falling 33-27 in overtime.
Those sorts of disappointing and frustrating losses have been all too commonplace in recent years, but Rivers chooses to take an optimistic point of view from those results.
“It gives you the confidence to know just hang in there and keep fighting and keep scratching and keeping going,” Rivers said. “Surely, we’re going to start finding a way to be on the other end of those.”