The San Diego Chargers made their last playoff appearance in 2009 when they won the AFC West title. The Kansas City Chiefs won this division in 2010, while the Denver Broncos won it in 2011. If this trend continues, the Oakland Raiders will be AFC West champs in 2012. The Chargers can prevent this from happening by reasserting their dominance at home. San Diego had a 26-6 record at home from 2006-2009, and won the division every year during this time frame. The Chargers were also 6-2 at home in 2010, but just 5-3 in 2011.
San Diego also needs to reestablish their dominant record against the AFC West. From 2006-2009, San Diego was 20-4 against their division rivals while they were 6-6 from 2010-2011. San Diego was also 19-13 on the road from 2006-2009, while they were 6-10 on the road from 2010-2011. The Lightning Bolts do not have to duplicate their road success, but achieving a .500 winning percentage away from San Diego in 2012 should be a goal.
If San Diego finishes with a 10-6 record, they should make the playoffs in 2012. The last time a second place team in the AFC West won at least 10 games happened in 2005. San Diego won the West in 2006 with a 14-2 record while Kansas City finished in second at 9-7. San Diego won the division in 2007 with an 11-5 record while Denver finished in second at 7-9. San Diego won the division in 2008 with an 8-8 record due to owning the tiebreaker over second place Denver who was also 8-8. San Diego was 13-3 in 2009, while Denver was 8-8. Kansas City was 10-6 in 2010 while San Diego was 9-7 and Denver won the division at 8-8 in 2011 because they owned the tiebreaker over second place San Diego who finished with an identical record. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues in 2012 because 10 victories has been enough to win the AFC West every season after 2005.