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When the Los Angeles Chargers started the season 0-4, it was tempting to think that the season was over. But, as I cautioned, not all 0-4 teams are created equally. And while only one team had ever gone from 0-4 to the playoffs (ironically, the Chargers in 1992), that was a little misleading. Most 0-4 teams don’t make the playoffs because of the 0-4 start *and* because they are bad teams. But if the team is a good team, an 0-4 start is not necessarily a death sentence.

Los Angeles is proving that to be the case. Right now, the Chargers rank 7th in the NFL in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt, and 4th in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt allowed. The Chargers rank 3rd in the NFL in ANY/A Differential — the difference between those two statistics — and rank 1st in the AFC in that category. Take a look: Take a look: the Y-Axis shows each team’s winning percentage, while the X-Axis displays ANY/A differential.

RkTeamANY/A▼ANY/A AllDiffWin %
1Los Angeles Rams8.014.963.040.700
2Philadelphia Eagles7.594.742.860.900
3Los Angeles Chargers7.384.562.810.455
4Jacksonville Jaguars5.813.252.560.700
5New Orleans Saints7.955.462.500.800
6Minnesota Vikings7.465.162.300.818
7Pittsburgh Steelers6.614.352.260.800
8Atlanta Falcons7.005.671.330.600
9Seattle Seahawks6.655.391.260.600
10New England Patriots8.367.101.260.800
11Washington Redskins7.076.051.020.455
12Kansas City Chiefs7.396.490.900.600
13Cincinnati Bengals5.995.090.900.400
14Detroit Lions6.876.150.720.545
15Baltimore Ravens3.853.91-0.060.500
16Arizona Cardinals5.706.07-0.370.400
17New York Jets5.706.07-0.370.400
18Buffalo Bills5.195.68-0.490.500
19Carolina Panthers5.335.83-0.500.700
20Tampa Bay Buccaneers6.467.19-0.730.400
21Tennessee Titans4.986.05-1.070.600
22Houston Texans6.047.13-1.090.400
23Chicago Bears5.096.25-1.160.300
24Dallas Cowboys5.626.78-1.170.455
25Green Bay Packers4.956.65-1.710.500
26Indianapolis Colts5.477.32-1.850.300
27Denver Broncos4.506.58-2.080.300
28New York Giants5.127.21-2.090.182
29San Francisco 49ers4.737.09-2.370.100
30Oakland Raiders6.008.47-2.470.400
31Miami Dolphins4.827.45-2.630.400
32Cleveland Browns3.106.95-3.850.000

Of course, with a 5-6 record, it’s easy to see why the Chargers have been overlooked. But Los Angeles is the biggest outlier in the NFL when it comes to ANY/A Differential vs. Winning Percentage. Take a look:

Los Angeles is third in ANY/A, but below-average in winning percentage. The Redskins and Bengals are the only other teams with positive ANY/A differentials but average or worse winning percentages. On the other side, the Titans and Panthers have “overachieved” in this category, along with the Patriots.

A few years ago, I wrote about where each Super Bowl champion ranked in a number of key metrics, including ANY/A differential. Other than record and Pythagorean record, the average Super Bowl champion ranked better in ANY/A differential than any other key metric. And last year, the top two teams in ANY/A differential met in the Super Bowl. At 5-6, the Chargers may not quite be a Super Bowl contender yet, but there are certainly in the running for biggest Super Bowl contender in history among teams that were below .500 entering December. Of course, while going from 0-4 to the playoffs is very Chargersesque, so is being a Super Bowl contender but missing the playoffs.