2nd Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers, who finished in third place in the division last season, are the final AFC West team to preview as we near the end of our previews of all 32 NFL teams.

The Chargers are coming off of consecutive 9-7 seasons and there is optimism in San Diego for an improved team this season, with some additions to the offense that should make the team more competitive, including the drafting of RB Melvin Gordon, out of Wisconsin, with the the 15th overall pick.

QB Philip Rivers is among the most consistent pass-throwers in the league, having played in all 16 games in each of the nine seasons. Last year, he threw for 4,286 yards and 31 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. WR Keenan Allen led the team in receptions, with 77 for 783 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games. WR Malcom Floyd had the most receiving yards, 856 on 52 receptions with six touchdowns. TE Antonio Gates caught 69 passes for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns in 14 starts. The team didn’t have as much success in the running game; RB Branden Oliver led the team with 582 yards and three touchdowns in seven starts.

Heading into this season, the Chargers will be without Gates for the first four games of the season, as he will be suspended for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. That will give backup TE Ladarius Green a chance to start a few games; he had 19 receptions for 226 yards in limited work last season. The Chargers signed WR Stevie Johnson in the offseason, adding depth to the receiving core and giving Rivers another target to throw to. If Gordon can live up to the expectations that come with being a high draft pick, that would help provide a spark for the offense.

The Chargers’ schedule opens up with a home game against the Lions, followed by a road game at the Bengals in Week 2. Other notable games include a prime-time game hosting the Steelers in Week 5, then a road game at the Packers in Week 6. The slate is backloaded with divisional games, including a Week 13 home game with the Broncos, followed by a road game at the Chiefs in Week 14. They have two divisional road games to end the season, at the Raiders in Week 16 and at the Broncos in Week 17. It’s not going to be an easy schedule for the Chargers, but — like the Chiefs — they’re looking like they’ll win about nine or 10 games, which won’t be enough to win the division and probably won’t be enough to snag one of the AFC’s Wild Card berths.

Source: http://www.chargers.com, http://pro-football-reference.com

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