San Diego Chargers 2012: 3 Quick Reasons the Bolts Will Win the AFC West
After missing the playoffs each of the last two seasons, it is clear that the path to the playoffs for the San Diego Chargers is not quite so easy as it has been in the recent past. While the Bolts were busy winning the AFC West five out of six years, the rest of the division was compiling talent with high draft picks.
Two years ago, the Chargers lost control of the division; now they must rise up and take it once more. They are in a great position to do just that.
Here's why the 2012 San Diego Chargers will win the AFC West:
Many fans spat on the front office's decision to bring back Head Coach Norv Turner for another year. After two underwhelming seasons in a row, I understand the frustration.
However, management felt that keeping Norv was the best option for winning right now. I must say I agree with them.
While the Chargers have plodded steadily along the same course, every other team in the division has undergone significant identity changes. The Chiefs and Raiders have new coaches, and the Broncos have a new quarterback.
These two aspects of a football team are crucial, and the Bolts have stayed their course. While the competition adjusts, the Chargers can hit the ground running. Having to adapt to new personnel may be the difference between a 1-3 start and a 3-1 start. As fans know, that can make all the difference in the world.
Little External Expectations
I hate to admit it, but the San Diego Chargers do not cope well with pressure.
In the past, the Chargers have consistently fallen short of expectations. When pundits and fans alike were placing them as the odds-on-favorites to win the Super Bowl, they didn't live up to the bill. Now, no one is picking them to win the Super Bowl—many people aren't even picking them to win the AFC West.
This is when the Chargers are dangerous.
When playing with house money, so to speak, they have done very well. In Drew Brees' last year in San Diego, the team finished third in the division at 9-7. The next year, 2006, was to be QB Philip Rivers' first as a starter, and few experts expected much from San Diego. They surprised everyone by going 14-2.
Then, in 2008, the team barely squeaked into the playoffs at 8-8. Many thought it was time for the Bolts to pass the torch. Well, in 2009 they finished 13-3 and ran away with the West. With few people outside San Diego picking the Chargers to do much this year, I expect them to make some noise and win the division once again.
Excellent History vs Peyton Manning
The Chargers cannot afford to overlook anyone in the division, but it looks as if the Denver Broncos will be their biggest threat in 2012.
Right now, Denver is the slight favorite to win the AFC West (+170 to the Chargers' odds of +180). This can be attributed to the acquisition of living legend quarterback Peyton Manning. After Manning's season-ending neck injury prompted a Colts nosedive in 2011, it was clear the quarterback was leading below-average teams into the playoffs.
However, of all the teams Manning has regularly beaten over his long NFL career, a team always seems to best him: the San Diego Chargers. For some reason, the Chargers have been his downfall both in the playoffs and in the regular season. In the past five meetings dating back to 2005, the Bolts are 4-1 against Manning and have 18 interceptions against him.
If this trend continues, the Chargers will be in good shape. The Broncos are receiving a lot of hype for their new quarterback, but the man has not played meaningful football in a year. It remains to be seen if he can play at the same level we are accustomed to.
Until he proves he can do that, I am not convinced the Broncos should be division favorites. But who wants to be favorites anyways?