It seems like being 8-8 can work both ways.
The record is considered good and bad, and it can qualify for either last place in your division or get you the division title.
That was the case for the 2008 Chargers, who won the AFC West with an 8-8 season. Then they held off the Colts in the wild card round before being bounced by the Super Bowl champion Steelers.
This year should be different, but 8-8 may not cut it this time around with the changes in the AFC West.
New free agents, coaching changes and significant draft picks should make the West more competitive.
And all eyes will be on two new coaches in this division, especially the one who helped chase out a Pro Bowl quarterback.
Here's a look at the AFC West:
Last Season: 8-8, second in AFC West
GOOD THING GOING: The Broncos wanted to address the defense and did so through the draft. Four picks through the first four rounds helped defensive needs.
One of those players that can have an impact is first rounder Robert Ayers, who should bolster the defensive line in the 3-4 scheme.
Another first rounder, former University of Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno, should continue Denver's lineage of running backs who thrive with the Broncos. Moreno is one of the most instinctive runners to come into the league in recent memory and you never see him go down on first contact.
He comes to a place known for producing 1,000 yard rushers and from the university where the Broncos got Terrell Davis.
PRESENTABLE PROBLEMS: The head coach. Josh McDaniels made headlines for all the wrong reasons after taking the job. He helped send Jay Cutler to Chicago because he wanted Matt Cassel.
But there is no Cassel, and McDaniels has to choose between Chris Simms, Kyle Orton, and sixth round choice Tom Brandstater (both Orton and Brandstater are shown in the photo).
Cutler's departure will no doubt cause heavy scrutiny for whoever starts at quarterback for Denver.
CRUCIAL GAME(S): Week five against New England will be McDaniels' first match-up with his former coach, Bill Belichick. The Week 11 game against San Diego should have serious divisional implications.
WHAT TO BELIEVE IN 2009: McDaniels must find a way to win over his players after the Jay Cutler debacle. If the players trust him, Denver could overtake the Chargers in the west. If not, McDaniels could be in for more "rocky" relationships.
THE PICK FOR '09: 8-8
Last Season: 2-14, last in AFC West
GOOD THING GOING: Changes on both offense and defense. The Chiefs will plan on utilizing the 3-4, and added a man who should fit in nicely with first rounder Tyson Jackson (photo).
He teams with former LSU teammate Glen Dorsey along the line and can help free up space for Chief linebackers. That's good news for veteran acquisition Zach Thomas.
Offensively, new coach Todd Haley brings in Super Bowl experience and a no-nonsense attitude. He has dealt with the likes of Terrell Owens and recently Anquan Boldin.
Through all the drama, he still helped coach the Cowboys to the playoffs and the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. He'll have Larry Johnson, potential star Dwayne Bowe, and new quarterback Matt Cassel to work with.
PRESENTABLE PROBLEMS: Larry Johnson has been critical of his future with the Chiefs and still remains discontent. Even with a new defensive scheme, there is no telling if the Chiefs can adjust right away, especially after playing in Herman Edwards' cover-two defense.
Trading away Tony Gonzalez will also have an impact. He was the Chiefs' top receiver and even with age still created match-up problems with opponents.
CRUCIAL GAME(S): The Week five contest against Dallas will be Haley's first game against one of his former teams. Zach Thomas will also reunite with his former Cowboy teammates.
WHAT TO BELIEVE IN 2009: Expect Haley to be more intense than Edwards, who was more of a players' coach. Haley should find a way to make the Chiefs an explosive offense again after his success in Arizona. It will be hard for them to get out of the cellar, however.
THE PICK FOR '09: 6-10
Last Season: 5-11, third in AFC West
GOOD THING GOING: The Raiders actually snatched up two impressive victories last season against the Jets and Buccaneers, which likely played a role with Tom Cable returning to coach the silver and black.
Getting Jeff Garcia was huge for the offense, especially with the continued development of JaMarcus Russell (photo).
Garcia is a well-respected veteran who helped get the Eagles and Buccaneers to the playoffs. He has also had his most success in the Bay Area with a few Pro Bowls and playoff appearances with the 49ers.
Justin Fargas, Michael Bush and second-year pro Darren McFadden provide a solid trio at running back.
PRESENTABLE PROBLEMS: The offensive line hasn't always been consistent. In fact, the last time the Raiders had a very good offensive line was when Jon Gruden was roaming the sidelines.
Even with the speed of rookie Darrius Heyward-Bey, the jury is out as to whether or not the Raiders made the right decision to draft him.
According to scouts, Bey didn't show consistent hands and he played for a mediocre Maryland team. Drafting him over Michael Crabtree is a very bold decision, especially with Crabtree's credentials.
The run defense also needs to be better, after allowing an average of 159.7 yards last season.
CRUCIAL GAME(S): The first three games are divisional match-ups. This will determine if the Raiders can be competitive in the AFC West early on and establish confidence. It begins at home versus division champion San Diego, then a road trip to Kansas City and back home against Denver.
WHAT TO BELIEVE IN 2009: As long as Al Davis is around, the Raiders will always try to play the traditional long ball he desires. Because of that, this team still has a long way to go.
THE PICK FOR '09: 6-10
Last Season: 8-8, first in AFC West, lost divisional round to Pittsburgh
GOOD THING GOING: Talent galore on both sides of the ball. Phillip Rivers (photo) has proven that he was worth trading for in the 2004 draft, with some impressive victories in his young playoff career (3-2 in the playoffs).
Last season, Rivers threw for 4,009 yards and had 34 touchdown passes.
LaDanian Tomlinson is back again. Antonio Gates is also around. There's even Vincent Jackson, who had his first career 1,000-yard season.
On defense, Shawne Merriman returns from injury. The defense looked inept without him and his presence alone makes everyone around him better. His return should revitalize the pass rush.
PRESENTABLE PROBLEMS: Head coach Norv Turner has been accused of being too finesse with the Chargers instead of taking risks and pounding opponents in the trenches.
Many believe that he doesn't make good use of Tomlinson and hasn't found ways to keep his team motivated. His coaching philosophy has been heavily criticized by the San Diego fans, media, and even former Chargers.
CRUCIAL GAME(S): After the season opener with AFC West foe Oakland, the next three games are against playoff teams from a year ago. Baltimore and Miami come to town and then its the playoff rematch against Pittsburgh.
After the bye week, the Chargers then contend with the Giants, Eagles and Titans.
WHAT TO BELIEVE IN 2009: San Diego has to win now. LaDanian Tomlinson is aging, Norv Turner is on the hot seat, and teams like the Ravens, Dolphins and Titans are emerging into conference heavyweights.
Best case scenario for the Chargers is to play all of your playoff games in San Diego instead of going to cold weather places like New England and Pittsburgh.
THE PICK FOR '09: 10-6