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NFL San Diego Chargers

5 Reasons Why the San Diego Chargers Will Win the AFC West in 2014

5 Reasons Why the San Diego Chargers Will Win the AFC West in 2014

Philip Rivers
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off an unlikely playoff appearance last season, the San Diego Chargers are now turning their sights on knocking the Denver Broncos off the pedestal in the AFC West. Here are five reasons why Mike McCoy's team will do just that in 2014.

5. Ladarius Green Will Break Out

Ladarius Green
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

5. Ladarius Green Will Break Out

Ladarius Green
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Even at 34 years old, tight end Antonio Gates is one of the best at his position in football. But his decline is, without a doubt, looming. Just in time to carry on the torch, third-year tight end Ladarius Green appears poised for a breakout season in 2014. With a rare combination of size and speed, Green should thrive with more opportunities.

4. Dwight Freeney, Jeremiah Attaochu Will Upgrade Pass Rush

Dwight Freeney
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

4. Dwight Freeney, Jeremiah Attaochu Will Upgrade Pass Rush

Dwight Freeney
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking 23rd in the NFL, the Chargers only accumulated 35.0 sacks in 2013. The inability to pressure the quarterback was one of the club's most glaring flaws. Help is on its way, though. After missing all but four games last fall, Dwight Freeney is healthy and ready to make a difference as an edge rusher. Additionally, San Diego nabbed Jeremiah Attaochu, an explosive pass rusher form Georgia Tech, in the second round of May's draft.

3. Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett Will Upgrade Secondary

Brandon Flowers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3. Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett Will Upgrade Secondary

Brandon Flowers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A porous pass rush played a key role in surrendering the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL last year, but the Chargers' secondary was awfully leaky as well. After using their first-round choice on Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers became available in free agency. With Verrett, a scrappy corner who can cover the slot and boundary, in hand, San Diego signed Flowers last month. Flowers still has top 10 potential in a better scheme fit.

2. Chargers Beat Broncos in Denver Last December

Chargers vs. Broncos
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

2. Chargers Beat Broncos in Denver Last December

Chargers vs. Broncos
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers' biggest obstacle to claiming the AFC West in 2014 is unmistakably the Denver Broncos. Behind Peyton Manning's record-shattering production, the Broncos ran away with the division last season. However, San Diego proved that it's capable of beating Denver last December with a 27-20 road victory in Week 15. Getting over that mental hurdle will propel the Chargers' division title run this season.

1. Philip Rivers Playing Best Football of Career

Philip Rivers
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

1. Philip Rivers Playing Best Football of Career

Philip Rivers
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps it was a direct result of his supporting cast rising to the occasion, but Philip Rivers put together arguably his best season as a pro in 2013. Completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, Rivers cemented himself among the league's best quarterbacks. A similar performance or better combined with the strides San Diego has made this offseason defensively, will be enough to surpass Denver in the AFC West in 2014.