If Merriman Stays Healthy, San Diego Chargers Will Roll, Win Division

Matt KayContributor IMay 26, 2009

SAN DIEGO - MAY 03: Linebackers Shawne Merriman #56 and Larry English #52 of the San Diego Chargers have a discussion during minicamp at the Chargers training facility on May 3, 2009 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Terrell/Getty Images)

Realistically speaking, the San Diego Chargers’ 2009 season would be a major disappointment if they do not win the AFC West.

Arguably one of the worst divisions in the NFL, the West doesn’t have any team that is capable of competing with the Bolts should they not fall victims to injuries. Again.

Last season, San Diego stole the division from the Denver Broncos in their regular season finale with a mediocre 8-8 record. 

Even though the Chargers were a favorite to win the Super Bowl last season, you knew things were going to be ugly once star outside linebacker Shawne Merriman opted to forgo surgery to repair his torn knee ligaments.

Merriman is the backbone of the Charger defense, and the lack of his presence was apparent. The Chargers started off the season 4-8, before winning four straight games to close out their regular season.

LaDainian Tomlinson also had to deal with injuries. While he did run for more than 1,000 yards for the eighth straight season, Tomlinson had the worst season of his career, statistically speaking.

He had fewer attempts and rushing yards than ever before. His 3.8 yards per carry were fewer than any season other than his rookie year. And the same can be said about his 11 rushing touchdowns.

This year, though, the Chargers don’t need anymore than that from Tomlinson. As was evident in the playoffs, Darren Sproles is going to make an excellent replacement for Tomlinson when he retires in just a few years.

The key to the Chargers season will be whether Merriman can stay healthy. If he does, he’s going to record no fewer than 10 sacks and San Diego will win no fewer than 10 games. Speaking of sacks, expect first-round draft pick Larry English to be terrorizing opposing quarterbacks in the backfield, too.

Anyway, back to the main point … becoming the first team ever to start off their season 4-8 and win their division is not what the Chargers were hoping for in 2008.

They were hoping to make a Super Bowl run.

This season,  expect the Chargers to make amends to last season’s debauchery.


Week One San Diego @ Oakland: Chargers win 34-10
Week Two Baltimore @ San Diego: Chargers lose 23-20
Week Three Miami @ San Diego: Chargers win 31-27
Week Four San Diego @ Pittsburgh: Chargers lose 21-18
Week Five Bye
Week Six Denver @ San Diego: Chargers win 38-21
Week Seven San Diego @ Kansas City: Chargers win 41-10
Week Eight Oakland @ San Diego: Chargers win 44-16
Week Nine San Diego @ New York Giants: Chargers lose 19-13
Week 10 Philadelphia @ San Diego: Chargers lose 21-17
Week 11 San Diego @ Denver: Chargers win 31-7
Week 12 Kansas City @ San Diego: Chargers win 42-17
Week 13 Cleveland @ San Diego: Chargers win 33-10
Week 14 San Diego @ Dallas: Chargers lose 28-27
Week 15 Cincinnati @ San Diego: Chargers win 49-9
Week 16 San Diego @ Tennessee: Chargers win 16-13
Week 17 Washington @ San Diego: Chargers win 33-16

Overall 11-5

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