After a sluggish 2-3 start, the Chargers own a game advantage over the Denver Broncos in the AFC West and are becoming the team many thought they were before the season.
Just how good are the Chargers, who are aiming for their fourth straight AFC West title?
"I think we are a pretty good team and I think we can be as good as we want to be," said LaDainian Tomlinson, who moved into the NFL's top-10 all-time rushing list.
The Chargers have found their mojo by becoming an offense that no longer relies on Philip Rivers heaving the ball downfield. Plus, the defense has discovered what works and the result has been one complete victory after another.
"Honestly, we can challenge any team and beat them," Tomlinson said after the Chargers scored a season-high 43 points in a win over the Chiefs. "I think it really shows what kind of team you are when we come and play like this against teams. When we score this many points and our defense plays as well as they've played and in the fourth quarter a lot of the starters are sitting out the game, that speaks for itself."
But the Chargers know actions speak louder than words. And they are being careful to avoid falling into the trap that they have arrived with five games remaining.
"The good thing is it doesn't matter," coach Norv Turner said of the Chargers' 8-3 record. "We don't have to worry about that now. We just have to make sure we keep getting better. We'll keep trying to get better; we could be a real good team by the time the season ends."
But first is a trek to Cleveland, before the schedule turns nasty again with a date at Dallas and then the welcoming of the improved Bengals.
"We're just one game up and we have to remember that and keep playing them one at a time," Rivers said. "We need to maintain it and keep improving, but we're right where we need to be in this December-January stretch."
LINEUP WATCH: Brandon Siler has crept into the playing time of Kevin Burnett and he started over Burnett in the win against the Chiefs. Siler's star continues to rise as he led the team with nine tackles and recovered a fumble. Also, Burnett suffered a concussion and his status for Sunday is to be determined later in the week.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5-1 -- The Chargers are done with their AFC West foes after a 5-1 run through the division. The Chargers completed the AFC West portion of their schedule at the earliest time since seasons were extended to 16 games. Last year, the Chargers were able to rebound from a 4-8 start with a schedule back loaded with AFC West games.
"I think championships start in the division," Rivers said. "It's a little different that the division games are done before December gets here so it's a little weird."
The Chargers have gone 5-1 in AFC West play for the fourth straight season.
--DE Luis Castillo (calf) will try to return to practice this week after missing Sunday's game.
--FS Eric Weddle (knee) could see his practice time compromised this week.
--OLB Shawne Merriman played sporadically Sunday as he continues to be bothered by a foot injury.
--T Jon Runyan could be active for the first time Sunday after recently joining the squad.
-- WR Buster Davis, a former first-round pick, is healthy but has been inactive every game this season.