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Are the Los Angeles Chargers legitimate AFC contenders?

The Chargers are 4-1 with one of the NFL's toughest schedules through five weeks. They're winning tight games they used to lose. Are they legit title contenders?

LOS ANGELES — We were excited about the Los Angeles Chargers last season with the performance of then-rookie Justin Herbert and that team only won 7 games.

Now, through five weeks, the Chargers are 4-1 with one of the NFL's toughest schedules thus far.

Los Angeles defeated the Cleveland Browns in a 47-42 comeback thriller on Sunday. The Browns became the first team in the playoff era to have over 500 total yards, 40+ points, no turnovers and lose. 

Justin Herbert threw for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown.

On Monday's Locked On Today podcast, Locked On Chargers host Daniel Wade joined the show to talk about Sunday's game and talk about where the Chargers are headed.

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"Specifically the fourth quarter, the Chargers putting up four touchdowns, 26 points, Justin Herbert with over 200 yards just in the fourth quarter alone just shows you how wild that game was," Wade said on Locked On Today. "The Chargers offense was getting stymied for a lot of that first half and then fireworks started happening...I don't think I've ever seen a fourth quarter like that."

Down two touchdowns in the third quarter, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley opted to go for it in their own territory and twice on the same drive to get the Chargers into the end zone to narrow Cleveland's lead. How big of a difference has he been for LA?

"Week by week it does feel like under Brandon Staley, he's brought in a new culture and it's such a cliche thing to say," Wade said. "But, when you see the mentality of these players, fourth quarter after fourth quarter coming through in the biggest moments against the biggest opponents you're going to see in the AFC, they've made believers out of a lot of people."

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The Chargers are 4-1 on the year now with three-straight wins over the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns. They sit at the top of the standings despite one of the NFL's toughest schedules through six weeks, with Baltimore next week. 

The Chargers were notorious last year for losing one-score games, but that hasn't been the case early this year.

"When you can stack successes on top of each other like the Chargers have been able to do so far this year, the confidence is getting bigger and bigger," Wade said. "They keep going for it on these fourth downs and they keep making it. They keep not turning into the Chargers for yester-year where they would always blow these types of games."