Despite a surprisingly disappointing start and finish to the 2009-10 NFL season, the San Diego Chargers still find themselves with plenty to look forward to this year as one of the top favorites at 10/1 to win Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. The defending AFC West champion Chargers closed out the LaDainian Tomlinson era with a tough 17-14 divisional playoff loss at home to the New York Jets back on January 17 following 11 straight regular-season wins.
San Diego had opened the season at 2-3 after suffering a 34-23 home loss to the rival Denver Broncos under the Monday Night Football spotlight on October 19, but both teams headed in totally opposite directions following that first meeting. In fact, the Chargers crushed the Broncos 32-3 in the rematch on November 22 en route to tying their franchise record winning streak while Denver dropped eight of 10 after starting out 5-0.
This season, San Diego could be the unbeaten team heading into the first matchup with the Broncos at 9-0 due to a very favorable schedule that features five road games against opponents who combined to win at a dismal 30 percent clip a year ago (24-56). The Chargers also face only two playoff teams from last season in their final seven games (Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals) and just four overall (Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots), making OVER 11 wins a favorable wager for football bettors. San Diego is an overwhelming -333 favorite to win the AFC West and the 11/2 second choice to win the AFC behind the Indianapolis Colts (9/2).
Odds to win AFC West Division: -333
Odds to win the AFC Conference: 11/2
San Diego Chargers Odds to win Super Bowl XLV: 10/1
Regular Season Wins Total Line: 11
*all odds quoted from Bodog*
Following is a complete breakdown of how the 2010-11 schedule looks for the Chargers:
Week 1 Monday, September 13, 2010 @ Kansas City Chiefs
Analysis: San Diego beat Kansas City twice last year by a combined score of 80-21, so anything less than a comparable margin would be disappointing. The only positive for the Chiefs is that they will be hosting the first true Monday Night Football game of the season, which could give them a slight emotional edge.
Week 2 Sunday, September 19, 2010 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Analysis: Jacksonville was just 2-6 away from home last year and dropped four straight to end last season. The Jaguars will be coming off their season opener at home against Denver.
Week 3 Sunday, September 26, 2010 @ Seattle Seahawks
Analysis: The Seahawks have one of the loudest home fields in the NFL with their raucous fans that are known as the 12th man, who helped them earn four of their five wins last year. They could use a real 12th man though considering new head coach Pete Carroll’s team will find it difficult to stop what will likely be a six-game losing streak against the Chargers in this one.
Week 4 Sunday, October 3, 2010 vs. Arizona Cardinals
Analysis: The Cardinals did a majority of their damage on the road last season with an impressive 6-2 mark, but that was with veteran QB Kurt Warner under center. This will be the third road game in four weeks for new QB Matt Leinart to start the season.
Week 5 Sunday, October 10, 2010 @ Oakland Raiders
Analysis: The Chargers were lucky to win the first meeting with Oakland a year ago, scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 5-yard run by Darren Sproles with 18 seconds remaining. They did not cover the second meeting either even though they have won 13 straight in the series.
Week 6 Sunday, October 17, 2010 @ St. Louis Rams
Analysis: Possible look-ahead spot here for San Diego with the Patriots on deck. That’s about the only reason to back the Rams as likely double-digit home underdogs in this spot, although they might be coming off a win at Detroit that could serve as a confidence-builder.
Week 7 Sunday, October 24, 2010 vs. New England Patriots
Analysis: The Patriots struggled mightily on the road last season with a 2-6 record and will be coming off a physical game against the Ravens in a rematch of their recent playoff debacle. This will be the first true test of the season for the Chargers after a weak early-season schedule.
Week 8 Sunday, October 31, 2010 vs. Tennessee Titans
Analysis: The Titans will be playing their third tough road game in four weeks after visiting Dallas and Jacksonville. Tennessee will also be looking to finish the first half of the season strong heading into the bye week after facing the Chargers.
Week 9 Sunday, November 7, 2010 @ Houston Texans
Analysis: The Chargers will be visiting Houston before their bye week and have the benefit of playing the Texans on short rest off a Monday Night Football matchup at Indianapolis. This could be a dangerous game though considering how talented Houston has been the last couple years.
Week 10 — BYE WEEK —
Week 11 Monday, November 22, 2010 vs. Denver Broncos
Analysis: Fresh off their bye week, the Chargers will get the opportunity to exact some more revenge on Denver after the Broncos embarrassed them on Monday Night Football at home last year. This is only the third divisional game for the Chargers, who also could be facing rookie QB Tim Tebow if Denver is already out of the playoff picture like expected.
Week 12 Sunday, November 28, 2010 @ Indianapolis Colts
Analysis: Another road test for San Diego and the team’s first visit to Indy since upsetting the Colts 28-24 at home in the 2008 playoffs. The Chargers have won four of the last five meetings between the teams with the last four all decided by six points or less.
Week 13 Sunday, December 5, 2010 vs. Oakland Raiders
Analysis: San Diego QB Philip Rivers has yet to lose a December game in his NFL career with a perfect 18-0 record, and that mark looks to remain unblemished with three straight home games to start the month. The Raiders will be playing their second of three road games in four weeks.
Week 14 Sunday, December 12, 2010 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Analysis: Like Oakland, Kansas City will also be playing on the road for the third time in four weeks. The difference is that the Chiefs visit Seattle and St. Louis in addition to San Diego.
Week 15 Thursday, December 16, 2010 vs. San Francisco 49ers
Analysis: The 49ers will be playing their third of four road games in five weeks, and this visit to San Diego will be coming on short rest for both teams. This will also be the home finale for the Chargers until another likely trip to the playoffs.
Week 16 Sunday, December 26, 2010 @ Cincinnati Bengals
Analysis: Rivers could see his December winning streak come to an end here unless the Chargers have a playoff spot locked up and don’t want him to risk injury. San Diego will be making their second straight appearance on prime-time television and fifth of the season.
Week 17 Sunday, January 2, 2011 @ Denver Broncos
Analysis: The Chargers might not be playing for much in the regular-season finale, but it will be a rivalry game nonetheless. If Tebow didn’t play San Diego earlier, he probably will see some significant time here in preparation for next season.