How good are the Chargers?

Philip Rivers hasn't been turning the ball over this season for the Chargers. Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

With the exception of a lopsided Week 3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, who now look like an elite team, the San Diego Chargers have played well this season. This team has a different look and feel than the ones we have seen the last few years. Notoriously slow starters under head coach Norv Turner, they are off to an impressive 3-1 record and are playing with a lot of confidence and consistency.

But is that a result of a truly improved Chargers team from last season or just an opening four games that has included contests against Oakland, Tennessee and Kansas City?

After studying the tape, here are five reasons why the Chargers are for real:

The defense is actually producing big plays

In recent years, this team went only as far as the offense carried it and in spite of defensive players with good skill sets, the Chargers just didn't play with enough consistency. That has changed in the first month of this 2012 season.