The Los Angeles Chargers finished the first half of the season with a 6-2 record. Here's a look at how they have fared and what's ahead:
First-half rewind: The Chargers are on a five-game winning streak. The key to the team's success during this stretch has been creating explosive plays on offense and figuring out how to generate pressure without the services of their best pass-rusher, Joey Bosa. The Chargers are No. 3 in the league in explosive plays (plays of 15-plus yards on the ground and 20-plus yards through the air) on offense with 58, and recorded 15 sacks on defense during the team's five-game winning streak, tied for 11th in the NFL. "We want to be an explosive offense, whether we're throwing it over your head or even running it on the ground," Chargers offensive lineman and co-captain Russell Okung said. "We want to get the ball into our playmakers' hands and allow them to do what they do best." Grade: Above average
What's the biggest factor in the Chargers making a deep playoff run? Health. If the Chargers can get back Bosa -- out since Week 1 with a bruised left foot -- keep running back Melvin Gordon on the field and continue to ride a durable Philip Rivers, they have a good chance of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2013.
MVP: Rivers. He is having one of his best seasons as a pro and should be in the league MVP conversation. The 36-year-old signal-caller has done a good job of playing within himself and making the plays that are available to him. Rivers has thrown for 2,236 passing yards, with 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He's been sacked just nine times this season, posting a 116.5 passer rating.
Biggest surprise: After an uneven performance last year, Tyrell Williams has once again emerged as a big-play threat for the Chargers. The undrafted rookie signed out of Western Oregon after the 2015 draft is in a contract year, and has 22 catches for 451 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2018, averaging a robust 20.5 yards per reception.
Hurdle to overcome: The schedule. The Chargers finish the season with five of their last eight games on the road, facing playoff teams in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, along with tough road contests against AFC West rivals in the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos.