By Dave Thomas
Five games into this NFL season, some San Diego Charger fans may already be looking towards the 2014 season.
While there were certainly no guarantees coming into the 2013 campaign that this season would break the Chargers three-year playoff drought, the idea of both Norv Turner (former head coach) and AJ Smith (past general manager) being gone undoubtedly excited a number of fans. More than likely, the same could be said for a number of players who suit up each weekend.
With new head coach Mike McCoy and new GM Tom Telesco in place, thoughts were for many that this season’s Charger team could at least contend for an AFC playoff spot, albeit conceding the AFC West title to a stacked Denver team and Peyton Manning.
While this season is far from over, the Chargers are essentially at a point in time where they more than likely need to be close to perfect over the next 11 games.
After dropping a 27-17 decision in the Bay Area Sunday evening to the rival Oakland Raiders, the Chargers saw their record fall to 2-3 (0-1 in the division). Even though that record is far from the worst in the league, it certainly is not the position the Bolts wanted to be in heading into their second and final home Monday night game Oct. 14 versus the Indianapolis Colts.
Where do the Chargers Get Wins?
When you break down the schedule and look at the remaining 11 games for San Diego, one certainly could ponder where a bunch of wins would come from.
After hosting the Colts this coming Monday night, the Bolts travel across the country for an Oct. 20 meeting with the winless Jacksonville Jaguars. Now before fans pencil that game in as an automatic victory, one only needs to travel back in time a year ago and venture to Cleveland. Yes, the Browns of 2012 were not as bad as the Jaguars of 2013 are, but they still were far from a great football team. That said, the Browns outlasted Turner (now Cleveland’s offensive coordinator) and the Chargers 7-6. It was a late October loss that still draws the ire of many people, both players and fans.
Fast forwarding to this year’s game in Jacksonville, it is not totally out of the question that the Bolts could pull off a nice win against the Colts (4-1), then travel some 3,000 miles and lay an egg in Florida against the Jags.
Piling Up Airline Mileage
Following a bye week, the Chargers have to get on a plane once again and head all the way across the country, meeting a mediocre but still dangerous Washington Redskins team. Again, what should be a victory has the potential to turn into a bust.
Back home for the only time in November, the Chargers will host the high-flying an undefeated Denver Broncos (5-0), then get back-to-back road games in Miami (Nov. 17) and Kansas City (Nov. 24).
Yes, San Diego’s December slate allows it four out five games at home, but among those contests are dates with a pretty good Cincinnati team (Dec. 1) and those presently unbeaten Chiefs (Dec. 29). December’s one road game is a visit to the Mile High City on Dec. 12 for the return meeting with the Broncos. The two other home games the season’s final month are with the winless New York Giants (Dec. 8) and the rival Raiders (Dec. 22).
While anything is possible over these remaining 11 games, one could certainly see a scenario where this Charger club struggles to even reach .500, especially if it fails to put together four consistent quarters of play each game.
With that in mind, where do you see the Chargers finishing when all is said and done?
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Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.