COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Playoffs? Are we talking about playoffs?
Yes, the Los Angeles Chargers are 3-5 at the midpoint of this season. But if we take a look at the AFC standings, the Chargers are just 1 1/2 games back of the final wild-card spot, currently held by the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3).
And guess who the Chargers play next after the team’s bye week? Yep, Jacksonville, followed by a home game against the Buffalo Bills, who are currently the No. 5 team in the AFC at 5-3.
So the Chargers can certainly work their way back into postseason contention in the next two weeks.
Games to watch on Sunday include the Jaguars hosting the Cincinnati Bengals. Starting running back Leonard Fournette will not play against the Bengals after he violated a team rule, so Jacksonville's best player on offense will be watching from the sideline.
Also, within the AFC West, all three teams are on the road. The Denver Broncos (3-4) face the Philadelphia Eagles (7-1), while the Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) take on the Dallas Cowboys (4-3) and the Oakland Raiders (3-5) battle against the Miami Dolphins (4-3).
Let’s take a look at a two questions from this week’s mailbag.
@eric_d_williams: It’s time for the Chargers to start the search for an eventual successor to Philip Rivers.
And really, it has little to do with the way Rivers is playing right now. He’ll be 36 years old in December, but Rivers still can get the job done and lead this team to the playoffs.
However, the Chargers need to add young talent at the position.
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn likes a quarterback with movement skills. And he already started the process by trading for Cardale Jones right before training camp.
The Chargers have not selected a quarterback since taking Brad Sorensen in the seventh round of the 2013 draft.
In his latest Big Board, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has four quarterbacks among his top 20 players in Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. So the Chargers have a chance to get a developmental quarterback early in the draft.
Offensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback and safety are other positions of focus for the Chargers next year.
@eric_d_williams: There are two things I’m looking for the Chargers to improve upon during the bye week -- one on offense and one on defense.
Offensively, the Chargers have to create more explosive plays to make it easier to score.
Rivers is one of the most successful quarterbacks in the NFL throwing off play-action passes, so perhaps the Chargers use this more in the second half of the season, particularly with a healthier Melvin Gordon coming out of the bye week.
Rivers has a 115.8 passer rating on play-action passes this season.
On defense, the Chargers need to play faster, which will come when players gain a better understanding of what their responsibilities are on every play. Adding an experienced impact player like linebacker Denzel Perryman in the middle of that defense should help the Chargers play faster overall.
Along with that, young players like Desmond King, Adrian Phillips and Trevor Williams will continue to grow in the second half of the year.
The Chargers have a nice rotation of players on defense that will only get better with more reps, and the expectation is they will play faster and create more turnovers in the second half of the season.