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The Wild West: A Closer Look At The San Diego Chargers

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Oh, how the mighty have fallen! At least, that's what Chiefs fans and personnel are hoping to be able to say at the end of 2010.

The Chargers have had their run of the AFC West for the last few years. They ran Marty Schottenheimer out of town and still managed to keep their division lead. Now they've run their favorite rusher out of town in LaDanian Tomlinson and hope the same can be said after that transition is in the books officially.

All will be okay, however, as long as Philip Rivers is in charge. The quarterback is the game's best young quarterback as far as I'm concerned and while Aaron Rodgers looks mighty fine in Green Bay, Rivers is as good as they come. The two-time Pro Bowler looked brilliant in 2010 with over 4,200 yards passing and 28 TDs against 9 INT. He turns his receivers into stars, who then believe they're worth major money. And therein lies the issues with the Chargers right now.

I'm speaking of Vincent Jackson, the tall and talented receiver who had over 1,100 yards last season in a breakout campaign. He's also said he's willing to sit out this entire season and that he trusts his agents. Go figure. The same could be said for the young stud at left tackle, Marcus McNeil, who is also holding out alongside Jackson. The team already lost Jamaal Williams who provided a staple at defensive tackle and the talented but troubled cornerback Antonio Cromartie is also gone to the New York Jets. Coupled with the loss of Tomlinson, it's enough drama to make Oakland seem like a serenely flowing river.

But the talent is still there for the Chargers to worry too much. First rounder Ryan Mathews looks like the real deal this preseason to replace Tomlinson and Antonio Gates is Rivers' reliable target in the red zone. Question marks surround Shawne Merriman, but draft pick Donald Butler helps provide another playmaker with the linebacking corps. Last year's first round choice of Larry English should have a much better campaign the second time around. And adding promising NT Cam Thomas in the middle will ease the burden of losing Williams.

As much as the division favorites have had to deal with over these last several months, there hasn't been enough of a downfall (or enough upward movement made by its division rivals) for the Chargers to have to worry too much about surrendering their AFC West crown for the foreseeable future. The Chargers hold enough talent and experience at the key positions to handily win the AFC West in 2010