The common sentiment after the San Diego Chargers' road victory over the Denver Broncos is that Philip Rivers and company pulled the biggest upset of the 2013 NFL season. Not true.
First of all, there's no such thing as an upset on Thursday night. These games with three days rest are too fluky for anything to be considered an upset.
Second of all, San Diego is a fine team. If not for terrible late-game losses to Houston, Tennessee and Washington, that 6-7 record entering Thursday would have been a more presentable 8-5 or 7-6. The Chargers, under first-year coach Mike McCoy, are a good football team, anchored by a quarterback playing the best football of his life. The defense has been suspect, but that's something affecting a number of QBs across the league.
Most importantly, when a team, like the Denver Broncos, comes off a four-game stretch in which it plays the first-place team in its division (Kansas City), its longtime foil (New England), the same team that was first place in the division two weeks ago before a Broncos beatdown (KC, again) and then gets a breather (Tennessee), then, yeah, you're due for a letdown game.
Most people would have assumed playing Tennessee after that brutal KC/NE/KC run was going to be Denver's trap. But teams are smarter than that now. They recognize the trap games and play accordingly. Tennessee was the trap game that wasn't.
Then San Diego came to Denver. Its a competent football team coming into Mile High on a short week. The Broncos didn't underestimate the Chargers — that doesn't happen in intra-divisional games. These games aren't a matter of desire, they're decided by execution. Denver seemed worn down by playing their fifth big game in 26 days and wasn't as sharp as usual. San Diego played its best game of the year. Philip Rivers wanted to dethrone the king of the AFC West.
So don't call this game an upset. Denver lost to a capable team in its own division. Now, the path to the Super Bowl could go through New England if the Pats continue to win. But, then again, Bill Belichick's team plays Miami on Sunday. It's not a trap game, it's just a game against a worthy division opponent that's fighting for its playoff life.