The AFC West was one of the two worst divisions in football last year. The San Diego Chargers were able to recover from a dismal 4-8 start to win the division with an 8-8 record.
The outlook for 2009 is more of the same. With Jay Cutler heading to Chicago, the Raiders making traditionally bad decisions, and the Chiefs having only Matt Cassell to hang their hat on, San Diego looks to be the class of the division.
The Chargers are returning most of their starters and are looking to add a healthy Shawne Merriman to a defense that struggled in '08. The offense should be more potent than it was last season with the return of a healthy Ladainian Tomlinson.
Darren Sproles should also provide a strong second option that will keep defenses on their toes.
Three of the four teams in the division seem to be in a rebuilding mode this season, leaving the Chargers to be the only competitive team coming out of the AFC West.
With an 8-8 record being good enough to win the division last year, it shouldn't take much more to win the division again this year.
The 2009 season should see the Chargers run away with the division. For the past three years, there has been a lot of Super Bowl talk in San Diego, but not much Super Bowl walk.
This year seems like the "put up or shut up" season for the Chargers. With the AFC West appearing as weak as it has ever been, it seems there is very little to stand in the Chargers' way.