San Diego Chargers Must Brace for Upcoming AFC West Gauntlet

San Diego Chargers AFC West

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The roller coaster ride that has been the San Diego Chargers’ 2013 season to date has already taken a ride on the AFC West track. That excursion didn’t exactly go as the Bolts had hoped with a visit to the Oakland Raiders getting pushed back to a late start time resulting in a very untimely loss for San Diego.

Despite being 0-1 in the division to date, the Chargers still have the meat of their rivalry tilts remaining. That means San Diego is far from out of the race to push for the top spot out west, but the division has taken a serious step up in class this season.

Peyton Manning brought the Denver Broncos back to prominence last year with his precision passing and dissection of opposing defenses, but the Kansas City Chiefs were an absolute mess. Now with Andy Reid at the helm and Alex Smith under center, the holders of the top pick in the 2013 NFL Draft are improbably the holders of the NFL’s only undefeated record through Week 7. This combo with a combined record of 13-1 will provide the Chargers with a serious step up in competition for the remainder of the schedule.

But that’s not to say the Bolts can’t compete with these Goliaths given their David-like attitude. The Broncos are known for putting up massive amounts of points and capitalizing on their trips into the red zone, but the Bolts have given up just five field goals in their past two contests. This defense is peaking heading into the stretch run, and that could provide San Diego with more than a puncher’s chance at pulling off an upset or two against Manning and company.

As for Kansas City, their specialty has been rushing the passer on defense as they lead the league with an astounding 35 sacks thus far, ten clear of the next closest team. A year ago this would have been a big problem for the Bolts, but under new head coach Mike McCoy quarterback Philip Rivers is getting the ball out of his hand more quickly leading to lower sack totals. Even with a patchwork offensive line the Chargers have given up just 11 sacks so far, tied for second fewest in the league after surrendering a massive 49 last year (second most).

This is all just conjecture at this point, but there’s no doubt the Bolts have what it takes to match up and succeed against their AFC West brethren. Look for these Chargers to put up a good fight in the division they were known for owning through the mid-2000s this season. Records mean very little in intradivisional clashes, and the Chargers could easily steal a game or two against these NFL front-runners.

Anthony Blake is a Senior Writer/Copy Editor for Rant Sports. You Can Follow Him on Twitter, on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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