2008 San Diego Chargers AFC West Preview

The 2008 edition of the San Diego Chargers should be an exciting thing to watch. The core of this team is once again in tact, and is one more year experienced. With Philip Rivers gaining strides and experience, this may finally be the year the Chargers compete with the Colts and Patriots for the top spot in the AFC.

KEY ADDITIONS:

1) Antoine Cason – The only real addition to the Chargers roster came via the draft. Other moves in the offseason were not significant enough to even warrant talking about. With the 27th pick, the Chargers selected one of the best defensive backs in Pac-10 history with the 2007 Jim Thorpe award winner Antoine Cason. Cason could be an immediate contributor in the return game, and may be slotted at the nickel corner position. He is still a little raw, and may not quite be ready to be a full time starter. He should, however, have a wonderful career in San Diego.

KEY LOSSES:

1) Michael Turner – Losing Ladanian Tomlinson’s backup shouldn’t be such a big deal…you still have the real deal on your team. Turner was a game breaker however, and a great 3rd down and change of pace back. Atlanta thought highly enough of Turner to pass on McFadden in the draft, so potential obviously has to be high. Darren Sproles will be asked to fill the void left by Turner’s departure, and he is the same type of back that Turner was.

2) Lorenzo Neal – The loss of Neal will be felt in San Diego. The pro bowl fullback will no longer be leading the way for LT and creating those huge gapping holes that even could make Cedric Benson successful. LT remains LT, however, and his production will not fall….he will just have to work that much harder.

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Key Weaknesses:

The biggest weakness on this team appears to be wide receiver. Trading for Miami wideout Chris Chambers last year was a huge upgrade over youngster Vincent Jackson. Chambers is on the wrong side of 30 now, and his production could start to decline. The wide receiving corps needs to do what it can to spread the field and alleviate some of the pressure from Phillip Rivers and Ladanian Tomlinson.

Key Strengths:

When LT is on your team the key strength has to be running the ball. The consensus number one fantasy football pick for four years and running will be at full speed this year. While he had a hard time getting going the first few games last year, this year he gets to start with the Broncos and Raiders in two of his first four games….two of last years worst against the run. Look for LT to have well over 500 yards in the first 4 games of the season, and don’t be surprised if he is finally able to eclipse 2,000 yards this season.

2008 Predictions

The 2008 Chargers are primed for another run at the Superbowl. Rivers has another year of experience under his belt, and both LT and Antonio Gates are primed to have another stellar season, and the defense led by Shawne Merriman will be a tough unit again.

Here is a look how the 2008 schedule looks for the Chargers:

Week / Opponent

1 Panthers

2 @Broncos

3 Jets

4 @Raiders

5 @Dolphins

6 Patriots

7 @Bills

8 @Saints

9 Bye

10 Chiefs

11 @ Steelers

12 Colts

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13 Falcons

14 Raiders

15 @Chiefs

16 @Bucs

17 Broncos

Expect the Chargers to start strong right out of the gate, basically going uncontested their first 5 games. Week 6 with the Patriots coming to town will be a fun game to watch as two 5-0 teams could be going head-to-head. Don’t forget, the Chargers get 6 of the 16 games against a weaker AFC West division, and they should roll the tables in those 6 games.

Expect the Chargers to beat the Panthers, Jets, Dolphins, Bills, Saints, Falcons, and Bucs in addition to their division games. They appear poised to have a record of 13-3 or 12-4, and could possibly earn a first round bye. The winner of the week 12 game against the colts could very well determine who earns the number 2 seed in the AFC.