Morning Links: Underrated contenders

SAN DIEGO – Good morning. Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated lists the Chargers as one of the NFL’s underrated contenders down the backstretch of this season.

Farrar: “It could be argued that right now, if the 5-7 Chargers and 9-3 Chiefs faced off 10 times in a row, the Chargers would win four or five of these games. One could argue that Philip Rivers has played as well as any quarterback in the NFL this season, but a horrible defense and a penchant for losing games in heartbreaking fashion has all but eliminated San Diego as a postseason contender. Still, the Giants, Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs will be on notice throughout December -- if you hit this team on the wrong day, you could be easily embarrassed.”

Agent Jack Bechta writing for the National Football Post doesn’t like the NFL blackout rule, stating that it hampers a team’s ability to engage the fan base. Bechta: “When it’s 70 degrees and sunny in San Diego, fans don’t say, ‘Oh my God, we should really go to this game because I can’t see it on TV.’ No, they go to a sports bar instead to watch their fantasy players perform. Or they sit at home and watch the NFL Red Zone and just see the best parts of the game without the cost and hassle of going to the stadium.”

Matt Bowen writing for Bleacher Report has a nice breakdown of Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton’s 50-yard completion to receiver Andrew Hawkins.

Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus lists San Diego receiver Keenan Allen at No. 3 on his race for rookie of the year.

Matt Calkins of U-T San Diego says the Chargers’ front seven is struggling to defend the run.

Ricky Henne of Chargers.com provides a scouting report for San Diego’s upcoming game against the New York Giants.

Former NFL general manager and ESPN Insider Billy Devaney joined Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton and Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego on The Mighty 1090 AM Radio in this audio link. Devaney says San Diego’s rebuilding effort is headed in the right direction.