They're not, of course. They're 3-5. But with the number one offense and defense, if there was a Pythagorean W-L metric in football, we'd be fitting Philip Rivers for a Super Bowl ring. But he's a lot like Dan Marino, you see.
Rivers is playing out of his mind. With half the season elapsed, he's got the most passing yards through eight games of anyone ever — and is well ahead of Marino's record-setting 1984. (Marino had 2,390; Rivers has 2,649.)
Even more impressive is who he's throwing to. Namely, Antonio Gates and a collection of castoffs, has-beens and never-wases. Vincent Jackson has held out. Malcolm Floyd, Legedu Naanee and Buster Davis have all missed time with hamstring injuries, and they weren't exactly Clayton and Duper to begin with. Yesterday, en route to another 300-yard game, Rivers completed passes to three wideouts, three running backs, a fullback, and, of course, Gates.
So he's MVP, right? He has to be. And yet, they're still 3-5, in third place in a suddenly competitive AFC West. The Chiefs have a cupcake schedule, and the Raiders have looked surprisingly frisky. San Diego's pretty much going to have to go 7-1 in the second half to make the playoffs, but if they play like they haven't that's not too far-fetched.
They've gained the most yards per game, and given up the fewest. They've got a +36 point differential, better than everyone but Green Bay in the NFC, and better than division leaders Baltimore and Houston. So where did it go wrong?
A conference-worst turnover differential is a good start. Having lost all of their games by a single score doesn't help either. And even if they sneak into the playoffs, there's Norv Turner, just waiting to torpedo the ship from inside.
Which brings us back to Dan Marino. One of the greatest all-time, but never won a Super Bowl. Which means that his greatness is merely statistical, by definition. Take a look at Rivers's career numbers. They're incredible. On every per-game or per-attempt metric, he's near the top of the all-time leaderboards. If you blanked out his name, I'd tell you those are the stats of a quarterback in the early-middle of a Hall of Fame career.
Philip Rivers: Hall of Famer? It's more likely than you think. Philip Rivers: Super Bowl champion? Not unless he gets a change of scenery, or his scenery changes around him.
Philip Rivers: pitchman for Isotoner? Sign him up.