Chargers are good enough to make noise

The San Diego Chargers have won nine games in each of the last two seasons. In 2013, it was good enough to get San Diego into the playoffs and through to the Divisional Round, where it lost a tight game against the Denver Broncos. In 2014, the Chargers only needed to beat Chase Daniel and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17 to make the postseason, but could only muster a touchdown in a 19-7 defeat.

Heading into 2015, the Chargers are desperately looking to make another push before the team looks radically different. Head coach Mike McCoy is entering his third season with the team, and watched this offseason as general manager Tom Telesco added some pieces to the puzzle. Telesco addressed the leaky offensive line by re-signing left tackle King Dunlap and picking up guard Orlando Franklin on a five-year deal. Telesco also locked up quarterback Philip Rivers with a four-year extension, a huge move toward stability.

In the NFL Draft, the Chargers were aggressive and traded up for running back Melvin Gordon. To this point, Gordon has endured rookie struggles and has looked average at best in the preseason. Still, Gordon has electric skills. Look for his game to improve throughout the campaign. In the second round, Telesco added thumper Denzel Perryman at inside linebacker. Perryman should help what was one of the worst defenses against the run last year.

In 2015, San Diego must take the next step and challenge for the AFC West title, something it has not won since 2009. The Chargers are going to be fighting with the Denver Broncos, the four-time defending division champs, and the Kansas City Chiefs, which added a litany of talent this offseason. San Diego must rely on an aging offense and a rookie running back to get the job done, something Rivers and Co. are certainly capable of.

After this season, look for the Chargers to be a radically different group come 2016. At the conclusion of this campaign, Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Eric Weddle all hit free agency. It would be a major upset if Gates does not return, and Weddle has all but said he is leaving when he has the chance. Floyd could return, but at 33 years old, it is questionable if Telesco will pay for what promises to be diminishing returns.

San Diego has a chance to win the division now provided it enjoys good health. The Broncos are certainly on the decline and the Chiefs are unproven, not having won a playoff game since 1993. Odds are not in the favor of the Chargers, who are put third by BOVADA in the West at +375 behind Denver (-150) and Kansas City (+325).

Rivers and his band of aging cast members look to prove Vegas and the naysayers wrong with a new running back, an improved line and a youthful defense. Time will tell if they can do it.

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