San Diego Chargers - 2009 Season Preview
By Wilson of Predictem.com
2008 Record: 8-8, ATS 7-8
Stadium: Qualcomm Stadium
Head Coach: Norv Turner
Superbowl Odds: 12 to 1
Training Camp Site: Closed to Public (due to facility repairs)
Training Camp Dates: August 5, 8, 12 at Qualcomm Stadium (open to public)
Intro: The Chargers are a team that will score a lot points and should waste no time lighting up the scoreboard. Norv Turner returns as the head guy in his third season in San Diego. Along with offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon, also in his third season, the Chargers will certainly make a push for the AFC Title game.
San Diego has one of the most talented teams in the NFL which may even make them super bowl material. To make a point to the rest of the league that they are indeed a worthy team, the Chargers will have to prove it every week on the field as they looked at times, too laid back and a touch lethargic last season. The fact that the Chargers made a great run last December will help their confidence this season coupled with a determined coaching staff they should be a threat to all opponents.
Whos new? LB Kevin Burnett, OLB Larry English (Northern Illinois)
Whos Gone? OG Mike Goff, LB Marques Harris, DE Igor Olshansky
Offense: Running the ball has been the norm for San Diego during the last ten years, but with the poor output of LaDainian Tomlinson in 2008 they attacked more from the air. This season the Chargers will look to get more of a balance and that will be decided on the health and performance of Tomlinson. Tomlinson had his lowest numbers since his rookie season finishing last year with a 3.8 yard average and just 11 TDs on the ground.
Philip Rivers has turned into a solid QB especially last season as he earned the leagues best passer rating at 105.5 and tied for the NFL lead in TD passes with 34. Rivers also managed to move past 4,000 yards through the air. His height at 65 228 pounds enables him to view the field and avoid knocked down pass attempts. Rivers is not the best scrambler but he can get out of the grasp of would-be sackers and toss the pigskin on the run. If Rivers can work on spreading the ball around to all of his options he will once again pick apart pass defenses.
Rivers will have plenty of targets down field again this season as he is blessed with some extremely talented and huge receivers. The No.1 Charger receiver will likely be Vincent Jackson who turned in a fabulous season last year with over a 1000 yards receiving on 59 catches. Jackson is definitely an easy mark at 65 230 pounds and he can usually out jump his defenders. Rivers second favorite target will be TE Antonio Gates, who was hurt most of last season but still put up solid performances and clutch plays. Gates is quick and powerful, and San Diego will place him just about anywhere on the field which causes a number of mismatches. WR Chris Chambers will likely be the third option but with his veteran status and ability to come up big Rivers often goes to him. Really, Rivers would probably agree that all three of these guys could be considered the No. 1 option.
San Diegos O-line will need to step up this season if they want to truly make a push for the Super Bowl. Markus McNeill and Kris Dielman, both Pro-Bowl players, will be the heart and soul of the O-line. The right side of the line is missing Mike Goff but he will be replaced by ORG Kynan Forney who didnt play in a game in 08 so it will be interesting to see how he does. Last year the O-line struggled to free up LTs running game, and they will be expected to have a more productive season in 09.
Defense: Defensive coordinator, Ron Rivera, will look to run a 3-4 scheme that focuses on blitzing the linebackers. The return of a healthy Shawne Merriman should help the pass defense that ranked 31st last season move up to more respectable ranking.
The Chargers defensive line is led by NT Jamal Williams, a true crusher at 63 348 pounds. Williams creates havoc as most teams double team him thus freeing up other teammates to blitz or break up plays.
San Diegos secondary was beat quite a bit last year and needs to gel together and hold each other accountable or they could face another year of watching the backs of receivers cross the goal line.
Special Teams: Overall the Chargers look pretty solid on special teams. Darren Sproles is speed demon and makes huge plays on both punt returns and kickoffs. Punter Mike Scifres is the real deal! He averaged 40.9 yards a punt last season and he has an ability to paint the goal-line and keep it there. Perhaps the only cloudy area is in PK Nate Kaeding who is a decent field goal kicker but he lacks good range and has trouble booting the ball on kickoffs.
September 14 at Oakland Raiders
September 20 Baltimore Ravens
September 27Miami Dolphins
October 4 at Pittsburg Steelers
October 11 BYE
October 19 Denver Broncos
October 25 at Kansas City Chiefs
November 1Oakland Raiders
November 8 at New York Giants
November 15 Philadelphia Eagles
November 22 at Denver Broncos
November 29 Kansas City Chiefs
December 6 at Cleveland Browns
December 13 at Dallas Cowboys
December 20 Cincinnati Bengals
December 25 at Tennessee Titans
January 3 Washington Redskins
Betting Odds and Projections:
The Chargers are picked by some analyst to finish first in the AFC West with a record of 11-5. San Diego certainly has the talented personnel to make a run into the playoffs and maybe even to the superbowl. However, they have come up short before with the same expectations and this is a cause for some concern. If Norv Turner cant find a way to get his troops on board and further into the big show he might be on the chopping block.
The odds makers have the Chargers at 12 to 1 to win the superbowl. With an ATS record of 7-8 last season, the Chargers didnt exactly cover well. They will score a ton points this season and should be a candidate for the over.
The key for the lightning bolts will be in the trenches on both sides of the ball, but even more on the O-line. They will need to give LT some room to roam. Luck to ya.