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Extra Points: Rivers is rolling in San Diego

(SportsNetwork.com) - Quarterbacks generally understand the job description.

Those who play perhaps the most important position in all of sports realize when things are going good, they'll be getting plenty of accolades but if a season goes off the rails, the detractors will be coming for them with torches and pitchforks at the ready.

The standard for measuring true greatness at the quarterback position has always been and will likely always be the Lombardi Trophy. In fact, multiple Super Bowl rings are necessary to even be allowed in the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All-Time) discussion.

Those who really understand the game, however, realize that's an unfair and even nebulous standard, blindly dismissive of the 52 other men that will line up with this year's Super Bowl winner.

Years from now everyone will remember Russell Wilson winning Super Bowl XLVIII but Malcolm Smith and Percy Harvin will recede into history as footnotes to just about everyone other than Wilson, their other teammates and the people of Seattle.

The true measure of greatness at the quarterback position should be consistency from week to week and the ability to put your team in a position to win no matter the hurdles you may be facing on a particular Sunday.

And that's why the best signal caller from the famed 2004 NFL Draft class isn't Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger, who both possess two Super Bowl championships, it's Philip Rivers.

It's not like people don't know about Rivers. He's a five-time Pro Bowl selection and the 2013 Comeback Player of the Year but to the lazy critics, he doesn't belong in the conversation with Manning or Roethlisberger because he's never reached football's grandest stage, never mind performed at a high level on it.

The fact that Manning's resume would read far different if David Tyree's helmet catch didn't exist or Asante Samuel snared an easy interception is inconsequential, as is the reality that Roethlisberger played perhaps his worst game as a professional in one of his Super Bowl wins.

That has all receded into the shadows just like Smith's and Harvin's contributions to the Seahawks big win last February eventually will.

Rivers, on the other hand, has been very good for a very long time and he's not only left his contemporaries -- Manning and Roethlisberger -- in the dust, he's been playing every bit as well as Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck or anyone else you want to call elite.

Rivers' San Diego Chargers currently sit atop the AFC standings with a 5-1 record, which is tied for the best mark in all of football with NFC East powerhouses Dallas and Philadelphia.

An opening week late-game implosion in Arizona has been rectified with five straight wins by the Bolts, including last weekend's come from behind win on the road against Oakland.

Trailing by a touchdown, Rivers orchestrated two fourth-quarter scoring drives to seal a 31-28 victory, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by undrafted rookie running back Branden Oliver.

Rivers completed 22-of-34 passes against the Raiders for 313 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, recording a 123.8 passer rating, the fifth consecutive time that the North Carolina State product hit the 120.0 barrier.

Only Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (four in 1965) and potential future Canton inductee Kurt Warner (four in 2009) had ever reached that 120.0 measuring stick in four consecutive games before.

"There are small, different stats that obviously someone's kept for a long time, and they are meaningful," said Rivers. "When you know you were tied with Unitas and Warner, what it says is that we've had a great stretch."

History now says it's the greatest pure passing stretch in NFL lore despite the fact that Rivers is now working behind his fourth different center due to injury and his top three running backs -- Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown -- are all currently sidelined.

And it's not like Rivers' personal numbers haven't translated into team success. The Chargers are perfect during his current run and have outscored opponents by an average of 14.8 points per game during the span (147-73).

Rivers, meanwhile, has tossed 14 touchdowns during the five games versus just one interception and his effort against the Raiders was the low-water mark for completion percentage, having never dipped below 71.0 percent in the four other tests.

"I think it speaks to the guys catching the football, the guys protecting and the whole group," he said. "If the quarterback has a passer rating that high, that means everyone's doing something really well."

Since head coach Mike McCoy arrived in San Diego in 2013, Rivers is leading the league in completion percentage at 69.4 percent and is second to five-time MVP Peyton Manning in passer rating at 108.7.

Through six games this season, Rivers leads the NFL in passer rating (117.6), completion percentage (69.3 percent) and average gain per attempt (8.82 yards per attempt), an indication he is no "Charlie Checkdown" and pushes the football down the field as often as possible.

In fact, Rivers has already led the NFL in average gain in three previous seasons (2008-10), and is now attempting to join two more Hall of Famers -- Sid Luckman (seven) and Steve Young (five) -- as the only QBs to lead the league in average gain in at least four different seasons.

The LinkedIn profile may not begin with Super Bowl championship just yet but it sure can highlight consistency. Rivers has been doing it as well as anyone for many years and it's time to recognize that.

"The thing that makes Philip Rivers so good is his ability to recognize what the defense is doing and really put his team in the best possible play," NFL Network analyst and former Chargers star LaDainian Tomlinson said. "Even in his 11th year, he's still getting better in terms of learning defensive concepts. He's playing better than I've ever seen him play."

WEEK 7 (All Times Eastern)

New York Jets (1-5) at New England (4-2) (-9 1/2), Thursday, 8:30 p.m. - Short weeks have always been kind to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Brady has compiled a 6-0 record as a starting quarterback on Thursday games since 2002, including a 2-0 mark against the Jets. His 1,700 passing yards on short weeks rank third in the AFC and his 13 touchdown passes are second in the conference during that span. Brady has also passed for at least two touchdowns in four of his six Thursday starts.

Patriots 27, Jets 17

Carolina (3-2-1) at Green Bay (4-2) (-7), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The Panthers enter Week 7 in first place in the weak NFC South despite a 37-37 tie in Cincinnati last weekend, the highest-scoring tie game since 1964 when the Boston Patriots and Oakland Raiders deadlocked at 43. Carolina QB Cam Newton passed for 284 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 107 yards with a score versus the Bengals and is the only player in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards, two touchdown passes, 100 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in a single game, having done it twice. The Packers will be searching for their fourth straight win behind Aaron Rodgers, who played in his 100th career game in Week 6, a 27-24 comeback win at Miami. A-Rod has 203 TD passes, the second-most ever by a player in his first 100 games, trailing only ex-Dolphin star Dan Marino (217).

Packers 31, Panthers 20

Cincinnati (3-1-1) at Indianapolis (4-3) (-3), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The Bengals remain in first place in the AFC North despite a loss and a tie in their last two games. Running back Giovani Bernard rushed for a career-high 137 yards, including an 89-yard touchdown run, against Carolina in Week 6. The Colts have won four in a row after an 0-2 start and sit atop the AFC South. Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck will be aiming for his fifth straight game of 300-0r-more passing yards.

Colts 33, Bengals 30

Atlanta (2-4) at Baltimore (4-2) (-7), Sunday, 1 p.m. - Ravens QB Joe Flacco comes in red hot, throwing five TD passes in just 16:03 of game time during a win at Tampa Bay last weekend, become the fastest player to reach mark since the 1970 merger and the first with four TDs in the first quarter since 1986 when Minnesota's Tommy Kramer did it. The Falcons have dropped three in a row, allowing 32.7 points per game over that span.

Ravens 33, Falcons 20

Minnesota (2-4) at Buffalo (3-3) (-5), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The Vikings will have a rookie QB in Teddy Bridgewater making his first road start behind one of the NFL's worst offensive lines, which allowed eight sacks in a loss to Detroit in Week 6. In his first two starts with the Bills, veteran QB Kyle Orton has completed 54-of-81 passes for 607 yards with three TDs for 90.9 passer rating.

Bills 21, Vikings 13

Miami (2-3) at Chicago (3-3) (-3), Sunday, 1 p.m. - Bears signal caller Jay Cutler has won nine of his past 11 starts against AFC foes and is currently second in the NFC with 13 TD passes. On the defensive side for Chicago rookie corner Kyle Fuller is the only player in the NFL with three interceptions and three forced fumbles. The Dolphins will look to Cameron Wake, who has 10 sacks in his past eight games against NFC clubs, to try to slow down Cutler.

Bears 27, Dolphins 16

New Orleans (2-3) at Detroit (4-2) (-3), Sunday, 1 p.m. - Detroit has the NFL's No. 1 ranked defense, allowing just 270.7 yards per game, while the Saints will counter with Drew Brees, who is 4-0 against the Lions in his career, and the NFC's top-ranked offense, piling up 442.8 YPG. The problem for New Orleans, however, has been turnovers as the club will arrive in the Motor City with a minus-8 ratio.

Saints 23, Lions 21

Cleveland (3-2) (-5 1/2) at Jacksonville (0-6), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The sample size is still small but it's getting bigger. Brian Hoyer is now 6-2 as the Browns' starting QB with 1,839 passing yards and 12 TDs versus four interceptions with a 92.9 rating. The winless Jags continue to build around rookie QB Blake Bortles, who passed for a career-high 336 yards in a loss to Tennessee in Week 6.

Browns 26, Jaguars 17

Seattle (3-2) (-6 1/2) at St. Louis (1-4), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The Seahawks are coming off a rare home loss and facing an inexperienced QB in Austin Davis. Seattle signal caller Russell Wilson, the only QB in NFL history with a 100- plus passer rating in both his rookie and second seasons, has won his past three starts against the Rams. Davis, meanwhile, has 938 passing yards (312.7 per game) in his last three games.

Seahawks 34, Rams 13

Tennessee (2-4) at Washington (1-5) (-6) , Sunday, 1 p.m. - Redskins QB Kirk Cousins is now leading the NFL with eight interceptions but coach Jay Gruden is not considering a move to third-stringer Colt McCoy as original starter Robert Griffin III continues his rehab from a dislocated ankle. The Titans are waiting for the oft-injured signal caller Jake Locker, who has already missed two starts and a significant portion of a third game this season.

Redskins 21, Titans 17

Kansas City (2-3) at San Diego (5-1) (-4), Sunday, 4:05 p.m. - If Kansas City wants to compete in the NFC West, this is a game it has to have and head coach Andy Reid generally has his team prepared coming out of a bye week. Reid is 13-2 in his career after the bye week. The Chargers are tied for the NFL's best record thanks to the unprecedented run of Philip Rivers.

Chargers 27, Chiefs 26

New York Giants (3-3) at Dallas (5-1) (-6), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. - The Cowboys have won five straight games and are 5-1 to start a season for the first time since 2007 thanks in large part to DeMarco Murray, who leads the NFL with 785 rushing yards and six rush TDs. Murray has also surpassed the 100-yard mark in all six games, joining Hall of Famer Jim Brown (1958) as only players with 100-or-more rushing yards in a team's first six contests. The Giants are coming off their worst performance of the season, a shutout loss at Philadelphia, and will lean on Eli Manning, who is 4-1 during his career at AT&T Stadium.

Cowboys 24, Giants 13

Arizona (4-1) (-3 1/2) at Oakland (0-5), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. - Carson Palmer returns to Oakland where he spent two seasons before being traded to the Cardinals. Palmer is 5-0 against AFC foes since taking over the top job in Arizona. The Raiders are winless under rookie starter Derek Carr, who does lead all freshman in passing yards with 1,016 and TDs with eight.

Cardinals 27, Raiders 14

San Francisco (4-2) at Denver (4-1) (- 6 1/2), Sunday 8:30 p.m. - The 49ers will be playing in their second consecutive primetime game. San Francisco defeated St. Louis 31-17 on "Monday Night Football" as Colin Kaepernick (343 passing yards, three touchdowns) became the first Niners quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns since Steve Young in September of 1998. At 4-1, the Broncos trail only San Diego (5-1) in the AFC and Peyton Manning has 506 career touchdown passes and needs three to pass Brett Favre (508) for the most in NFL history.

"I don't know if any of these records are big for me, especially in the middle of the season," said Manning. "We're playing a tough schedule, we've got the 49ers at home and they've been one of the dominant teams of the past couple years. That's all I'm thinking about."

Broncos 24, 49ers 17

Houston (3-3) at Pittsburgh (3-3) (-3 1/2), Monday, 8:30 p.m. - Both the Texans and Steelers enter Week 7 at .500. Houston has been the J.J. Watt show this season and he is the only player in the past 50 years to score a touchdown via a fumble return, an interception return and a reception in a single season. Pittsburgh is riding improved second-year running back running back Le'Veon Bell, who leads the AFC in rushing (542) and scrimmage yards (793).

Texans 23, Steelers 16