Aside from the Denver Broncos, the AFC West is unlikely to create much trouble for other teams up and down the league. It is tough to call which team might finish second, with the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs both poor last season. The San Diego Chargers managed it last year, but there were still plenty of problems.
However, the 2013 season offers them the chance to start afresh. They have a new coach in Mike McCoy to try to start the turnaround, but it is a long road ahead to get back on track for a winning season.
Not everything needs to start from scratch, of course. In Philip Rivers, the Chargers have a quarterback who has a lot more potential than the 3,606 yards he threw for last season. Indeed in 2010 he managed 4,710 yards, which was 10 more than Peyton Manning threw for the Indianapolis Colts. The challenge for the Chargers will be getting everything to click under McCoy.
Head Coach: Mike McCoy
Last season: 7-9
Review: Things were looking very rosy for the chargers after the first two weeks in 2012. They had produced a very efficient defensive performance to see off AFC West rivals the Raiders 22-14 before comprehensively destroying the Tennessee Titans 38-10.
However, signs of their fallibility showed the next week when they managed just three points against a rampant Atlanta Falcons side. Inconsistency hampered the first half of their season and by the mid point they were 4-4 following a 31-13 win over another divisional rivals in the shape of the Chiefs.
In the second half of the season, defeats outweighed wins for the Chargers, with their 7-9 not good enough for a spot in the post-season. They managed second in the division, but having not improved on 2012's 8-8, Norv Turner was dismissed at the end of the season.
DJ Fluker: With not many options in Rivers's offense, first-round Draft pick offensive tackle DJ Fluker could find himself playing more minutes than the average rookie. There are injuries persisting throughout the offensive line, so how well the big man from New Orleans fits in could be important to the Chargers' season.
Manti Te'o: On the defensive end, it is again a rookie who might be called upon. There have not been many changes in the D on the whole, but linebacker Manti Te'o is expected to come straight into the starting lineup.
Takeo Spikes: The release of the veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes and the likely start of Te'o shows a shift towards youth for 2013. Spikes has yet to be picked up and his release comes at a good time for the Chargers with his total tackles on the decline.
Dallas Walker: He was swiftly released by the Chargers after only agreeing to a three-year deal in April. Dallas Walker did not make the cut, which means that the 25-year-old will continue to wait for his NFL debut.
Key Player Offense: Vincent Brown
Key Player Defense: Dwight Freeney
Rookie to watch: Manti Te'o
Pre-season form: 1-3
Prediction: 8-8. Even with inconsistency issues and several injuries last season, the Chargers managed 7-9. With a new head coach and not too much upheaval in terms of the defense there should be some improvement. However, there are still many better sides in the NFL out there, so an 8-8 with an outside chance of sneaking into the playoffs is about as good as the Chargers can expect in 2013 and even missing out would not represent too much of a failure.