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2014 NFL Power Rankings Countdown: #9 San Diego Chargers

Each day, Mile High Report will reveal the next pre-season ranked team. The San Diego Chargers have their work cut out for them as they talent gap has only widened since they lost to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round of the 2013 NFL Playoffs.
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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

In true San Diego Chargers fashion, Philip Rivers and the team found themselves in a gigantic hole sitting at 4-6 and needing some miracles to make it into the tournament. Suddenly, the team woke up and won five of their final six games, including sweeping the AFC West to close out the season. Their only loss during that stretch was to the Cincinnati Bengals, whom they promptly dominated in the Wild Card round. The played the Denver Broncos tough in all three games, but would ultimately fall to the eventual AFC Champions in the Divisional Round.

9. San Diego Chargers (2013 Record: 9-7)

The Chargers have gotten plenty of love for their offseason moves, but I just don't see it. Sure, they didn't lose any big names to free agency, but nor did they add any. However, Rivers is still the second best quarterback in the AFC West and having an elite or near elite quarterback always puts you in contention - plus the Chargers are the only divisional foe that has been able to hang with the Broncos since Peyton Manning has come to town.

Key Losses: Lavelle Hawkins, Cam Thomas, Charlie Whitehurst

Key Acquisitions: Donald Brown, Kellen Clemens, Kavell Conner, David Johnson, Brandon Ghee

I like their first pick, beyond that its unimpressive. Instead of closing the gap on the Broncos, John Elway increased the gap through his own offseason moves. The thing the Chargers need most is putting pressure on Manning and their biggest acquisition of 2014 could very well be Dwight Freeney coming back from his season ending injury.

Looking at the Chargers 2014 schedule, they had better avoid their typical early season slump, because that part of their schedule is full of cup cakes in the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders. If they drop any of those games - and I mean any - making the playoffs becomes a difficult proposition as they close the season with matchups against the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and end the season in Arrowhead at the Kansas City Chiefs.  It could get ugly.

Projected Record: 10-6

MHR Rankings

AVG StDev Kyle Tim Ian Topher Pete Scotty Jacob Jon Mike Laurie
10.4 1.96 7 11 13 9 12 13 11 10 9 9

MHR Commentary

Kyle: I hate the Chargers.

Jon: San Diego has--and has had--impressive offensive talent. It remains to be seen, however, if their defense will be able to slow teams down, including the Broncos.

I hate the Chargers.- Kyle Montgomery, MHR

Mike: The Chargers are the 2nd best team in the west right now. I still think McCoy will derp them at some point so it doesn’t bother me that they have the best shot at derailing the gravy train in Denver.

Topher: The Chargers are a good team, that’s the bottom line. They won 8 games against some good teams and won a playoff game last year with a rookie head coach and lacking a lot of their talent. With their strong draft and good off-season I see the Chargers again testing the Broncos when they play twice a year though I don’t expect them to overtake the Broncos as the AFC West champ.

Laurie: The problem with the Chargers is that Phil Rivers can win. No true Broncos fan can like that guy, and if there’s one quarterback I’m really looking forward to experiencing the wrath of DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller, it’s Rivers…even more than Tom Brady. But I digress. Rivers is dangerous, and he can keep his team in the hunt even when they shouldn’t be there. And if Jason Verrett is as good as promised, the defense could be tougher. Luckily, we’ve got Manning and Co. on our side.

Jacob: The Chargers are the second best team in the AFC West, and should find themselves in second place when all is said and done in the 2014 season; however, they’ll have some stiff competition from the Chiefs and will have to find a way to win the tough games that they won last year. 10-12 wins.