Chargers to the Super Bowl? 'It's absolutely in the back of my mind,' says Austin Ekeler


When the Los Angeles Chargers last represented the AFC in the Super Bowl, back in January 1995, Austin Ekeler was still four months from being born.

Whether or not he's aware of the championship drought, Ekeler does envision a trip to the Super Bowl. And if the Chargers keep playing their current brand of winning football, a Lombardi Trophy might not be too far out of reach.

"I'm always, in the back of my mind, thinking Super Bowl," the Chargers' star running back told The Zach Gelb Show earlier this week. "That's why we're playing these games, to get to that big stage, because of all the opportunities it presents. And just the honor to even play in the game, and then let alone win the game. Yeah, it's absolutely in the back of my mind...

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"Right now, we're rocking. But as far as our general message, we have to take this game by game. A lot of teams can say they have the Super Bowl in the back of their mind. But you've got to play it game by game. If you get too far ahead, you're losing sight of what's important, which is now, and making sure you take care of business now... Definitely taking it team by team. It wouldn't be too bad to play a Super Bowl in your home stadium."

The Chargers are shedding their long-standing reputation as underachievers. Two weeks ago, they upset the reigning AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs on the road, and this past Monday, they emphatically defeated the division rival Las Vegas Raiders at home. Through four games, Los Angeles is 3-1, tied for first place in the AFC West standings.

Ekeler flaunted his physicality in the trenches and breakout speed in the open field against Las Vegas. He rushed for a career-high 117 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns, and also set career-high marks in rushing yards between the tackles (97) and before first contact (83). Ekeler enters Sunday ranked second among league running backs in scrimmage yards (424), and ranks eighth in rushing yards with 283.

Los Angeles (3-1) will host the Cleveland Browns (3-1) in a marquee Week 5 matchup on Sunday. According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, the Chargers have a 76-percent chance to reach the playoffs and a 39-percent chance to win the AFC West.

The entire Chargers conversation between Ekeler and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow The Zach Gelb Show on Twitter @ZachGelb and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.