The Chargers are, to me, the most talented team in the AFC. They have great players at nearly every position, and even though they went 8-8 last year, they proved their worth in the playoffs.
The team was better than the Colts by exploiting the one thing the Colts have not managed to master: the running game. They used their running backs up against a run defense that ranked 24th against the run with 122.9 yards per game.
As usual, the Colts lost in the playoffs because of the inadequacy of a defense against the run.
The Chargers then lost to Pittsburgh in the playoffs under unusual circumstances, such as a punt that landed on a Charger's helmet that Pittsburgh recovered, and they could get a significant pass rush on the clock under center.
The Chargers suffered a lot of early anguish in the beginning. They first lost a game to the Panthers on one of those throws that just happened for Jake Delhomme, who threw a last second touchdown to Dante Rosario between two defenders. The announcers said it was like, "threading a needle."
Second, they had the Ed Hochuli whistle call that led to an upset by the Denver Broncos. Hochuli was deeply sorry for what happened and thankfully, a new rule has been made to assure this kind of calamity will be prevented in the future.
It is a good thing that this was only a regular season game and not a playoff game.
The Chargers had a horrible secondary even though they had two stars in Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer. The defensive coordinator, Ted Cottrell, was fired during the season and Ron Rivera took over.
The Chargers lacked their voltage with Shawn Merriman, their star linebacker, on injured reserve. The top running back in the league, LaDainian Tomlinson, was getting hurt and not doing as well as he wanted.
The Chargers were 4-8.
Forget the playoffs. Forget the Super Bowl. Heck, forget a happy season, you are cooked.
The majority of people in that situation think that way. It drains their energy and they lose hope, especially the players.
Not these guys. They sucked it up and got back on that horse, winning the next three games and setting up a rematch against Denver for the title of the AFC West.
They not only beat Denver, they clobbered them to make it to playoffs.
That is one of the main reasons I think the Chargers will do well. That team does not give up when they are down. It has the kind of players that you want on your football team.
I just don't see this team going down. I think the 8-8 was bad luck, and this team could stick it to the NFL. They are definitely going to win the AFC West because of the fact that those teams are now rebuilding.
The reason I think they are team to beat is because of health. When healthy, they are the most complete team in the NFL.
Think about the other AFC teams that did very well last year:
The Steelers had a pathetic offense, especially in passing. The sole reason they survived was they had the best defensive coordinator (Dick LeBeau) saving their necks.
The Ravens offense was anemic because they had a rookie quarterback and no spectacular weapons on offense. They had decent weapons, but not enough to win it all.
The Chargers will need to use their defense to take out the Ravens offense to win that game because I don't see anyone torching the Ray Lewis' defense. They need to make it a 7-0 game really. If the Ravens score 21 points, then the Raven defense will finish them off.
The Colts still have that mediocre run defense I mentioned earlier.
The Dolphins are a good football team, but I think the Chargers are just better at certain positions, such as running back, tight end, quarterback, and secondary.
The Patriots are the biggest mystery. The public does not know if quarterback Tom Brady is going to be back to his usual self. The Patriots also have made more changes than any other team to my knowledge. I use to know the majority of the Patriot lineup, but now I'm not so sure.
With all these changes, we don't know if they might take a bit to adjust to the system or be just as deadly as the 2007 Patriots.
I think the Chargers are about even with them so if they played against each other, I couldn't say who could win. In my mind they are like a coin flip.
Another thing that helps the Chargers is the fact that their division is extremely weak in many areas.
The Chargers should win their division hands down barring some catastrophe(s).
Tomlinson will be back healthy and even then, they still have backup Darren Sproles who is capable of playing as a full-time starter. Merriman will be back, a new defensive coordinator is taking charge.
They still have the best tight end in the NFL along with talented receivers in Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers. Plus, they have a quarterback who I think is the most underrated in the NFL by the name of Phillip Rivers. They also have Pro Bowlers at nearly every position including placekicker with Nate Kaeding.
I conclude by restating that the Chargers are my pick for the Super Bowl. Not only for the reasons shown, but also they have had the one of the best teams in recent history, and I just don't think that a team like that is going to be kept from a title game forever.