The San Diego Chargers come into the 2013 NFL season with perhaps more questions than any other team in the league. After three years out of the playoffs, the Chargers fired head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith and brought in Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco to replace them.
Chargers fans are understandably pleased about these moves, and the team had a solid draft landing players like DJ Fluker, Manti Te’o and Keenan Allen. But as the regular season draws near, what’s most important now is how the team will mesh to end the run of disappointment that the Turner era was known for.
Playing in the AFC West, the Chargers will likely spend another year looking up at the Denver Broncos in the standings. But will this finally be the year that Philip Rivers can lead the team to the promised land of the playoffs? Let’s take a look at the schedule and see.
When you look at San Diego’s slate, the first thing that should jump out at you is their road schedule. Outside of their three division games, all five of their away games will be played in the 1PM EST time slot, which statistics have shown gives teams from the west a distinct disadvantage. Two of those games hit early on, as the Chargers face the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 and the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.
Games against the Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 7) and Miami Dolphins (Week 11) don’t seem too intimidating, but a game against Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins in Week 9 is another likely defeat.
The home schedule for the Bolts isn’t much more friendly. The late-game on opening Monday against the Houston Texans is no cakewalk, and the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants will also come to town. The Texans, Colts and Bengals were all AFC playoff teams last year, and the Giants and Cowboys both have major playoff aspirations this season.
In the division, the Chargers would do well to repeat their 4-2 record from last season, but that included season sweeps of Oakland and Kansas City. 3-3 is a much more likely outcome with Denver still likely to be the class of the division.
Overall, while the Chargers are definitely making strides in the right direction, but the schedule doesn’t seem to favor them at all. Much of the success of this year will revolve around Rivers’ ability to put points on the board. In a best-case scenario, I feel like this is a 9-7 type of season, with a Wild Card berth just within reach if the breaks go their way.