Every season, pivotal games seem to make or break a team's season. Last year, the Chargers had two major collapses in a row that ultimately cost them their season.
In Week 5, the Chargers visited the Saints in New Orleans and had a 24-14 advantage after an early touchdown at the beginning of the second half. San Diego then allowed the Saints to score 17 unanswered points to win the game.
One week later, the Chargers fell apart once again at home. Going into halftime against the Broncos, San Diego led 24-0, but in the second half, Denver scored 35 unanswered points to win the game—35!
Those two games proved to be the most pivotal in San Diego's failure of a season. The Chargers literally lost to the Browns in their next game 7-6. It doesn't get much worse than that.
Enough of that, Norv Turner is gone. 2013 is a new year. Luckily, the Chargers have the second easiest schedule in the league.
Here are the five most pivotal games of 2013.
This game will be the Philadelphia Eagles' home opener. In 2009, the Eagles played the Saints in their home opener. In 2010, they faced the Packers. In 2011, it was the Giants and in 2012, it was the Ravens.
If you didn't know, all four of those teams won the Super Bowl those years. No pressure, Chargers, no pressure.
With new coach Chip Kelly running the offense, Michael Vick could re-transform into his old self. LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Vick create a scary explosive offense that could give any team trouble. The Chargers have a tough task in front of them on Monday Night Football in Week 1 against the Houston Texans. If they lose that game, they can't afford to start 0-2.
Let's just hope that list of teams who open with the Eagles then become Super Bowl champions continues.
Dwight Freeney facing his former team may end up being a game to remember. The Colts have continued to excel after the loss of Peyton Manning and addition of Andrew Luck. By the end of the season, both teams may be looking at a wild-card spot in the playoffs. That is if the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans win their divisions.
Freeney will enjoy playing the team he spent his entire career with, especially with the intent to prove he still has the talent and athleticism in him. The game will be a Monday night game, so the level of intensity will be even larger.
This is a critical game for playoff purposes only. The Chargers need every tiebreaker they can get.
Another game that can prove pivotal regarding the playoff picture is this matchup. For the second straight year, the Cincinnati Bengals will fly to San Diego to face the Chargers in Week 13. A few years ago, the Bengals were a laughing stock. The additions of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, as well as a revamped defensive unit, and the Bengals are now a front-runner for their division crown.
If the Ravens or Steelers have a great season, the Bengals will be a top team for the wild-card spot, where the Chargers may find themselves late in the season. Winning or losing this game can become very crucial to San Diego's playoff hopes.
Prediction: Vincent Brown will outplay his fellow draft classmate A.J. Green.
This may be the second meeting of the season for these two teams, but this one I'm predicting will determine the AFC West winner. Mike McCoy will return to Denver, Dwight Freeney will be playing against his former quarterback and then there's the countless former Chargers playing against San Diego.
Shaun Phillips, Jacob Hester, Louis Vasquez and Quentin Jammer are all Denver Broncos. The Chargers do not seem to be upset, and they will prove it December 12 on Thursday Night Football. This game will be the last of the Chargers' three prime-time games.
San Diego has a long history of disrupting the game of Peyton Manning. Eric Weddle and San Diego's young defense will continue that in 2013.
New coach, new quarterback, new team.
The Kansas City Chiefs should not be overlooked in 2013. I'm not expecting them to win the AFC West, but they should definitely be a wild-card favorite. Alex Smith can turn Dwyane Bowe into a top three receiver in the league and Jamaal Charles is already a top back. Tamba Hali on defense can cause problems for the Chargers offensive line, like usual.
The last game of the season may either be completely irrelevant, or play a major impact on the playoff picture. Either way, the Chargers need to win their last game of the regular season.