The San Diego Chargers have had the luxury of being the kings of the west over the last few years. They are normally a slow starting team, but come on fire after the first month or so of the season.
They have a LOT of pieces to a Super Bowl puzzle, but for some reason they can not seem to pull it all together when it counts the most, the playoffs.
Philip Rivers is a true franchise QB. He is the leader of this team. The problem does not lie in the passing game, however. It lies in the running game.
This team used to belong to LaDainian Tomlinson. Unfortunately for LT, he has aged to the magic number of 30, and was escorted out of San Diego.
That leaves Darren Sproles, and rookie Ryan Mathews as the only real running backs on the roster. If the Chargers believed the Sproles was the true workhorse back, he would have received a long term deal by now, and they probably wouldn't have drafted on in the first round of the draft.
As for Mathews, as I have said before, I can not count on a rookie to be a big enough factor that he is going to be the difference between the playoffs and not making it there.
Another BIG issue the Bolts are facing is a report that surfaced on NFL.com, stating that both Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill may sit out until Week 10 of the regular season. That may be just too much for this, or any team to be able to overcome.
As for the Chargers defense, they are still a work in progress. Shawne Merriman has not been the player he used to be. Maybe it is his prior knee injury, or maybe he stopped taking the performance enhancing drugs he was suspended for years ago.
Plus, the division should get a little bit tougher. The Oakland Raiders have made strides to become competent, and the Kansas City Chiefs have brought is a great coordinator combination in Crennel/Weis, and have Scott Pioli as the teams General Manager.
At least the Broncos are on the downside, and they can pound on them twice this year!
My prediction: The Chargers are still the cream of the AFC West, and they are going to win the AFC West Championship again this year. They finish the season with an 11-5 record.