1. San Diego Chargers (2-3)
How they got here: OK, they got upset in Miami and the defense has been inconsistent. But it's also fair to say that a last-second winning touchdown pass (by Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme) and a lousy game-changing call (by referee Ed Hochuli in a loss to Denver) have led the Chargers to their current state.
As long as we're throwing out excuses, let's also add in that Shawne Merriman's season-ending knee injury and the banged-up physical states of three other stars (running back LaDainian Tomlinson, left tackle Marcus McNeill and tight end Antonio Gates) haven't helped matters.
Where they're heading: There's still reason to believe in the Chargers. For one thing, the AFC isn't exactly filled with heavyweights. The brilliant play of quarterback Philip Rivers -- who is enjoying the best season of his five-year career -- also has been uplifting for a team that could be in far worse shape. But here's the real kicker: The Chargers started 1-3 last season and wound up in the AFC Championship Game. As hard as it is to pull that feat off two years in a row, they'll be back in the postseason come January.
It's hard to argue with Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN, but I wouldn't consider the San Diego Chargers are a playoff team until they start playing like one. If you assume that an 11-5 record will be enough to squeak by into the playoffs, then the Chargers are left with only 2 more lifelines before their season becomes officially an embarrassment. Each week from here on out becomes a must-win situation, and a trip to the playoffs must not be taken for granted.
Read: ESPN - Who's for real? Who's in trouble? Let's break it down
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