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Behind Enemy Lines: San Diego Chargers

The Titans and Charges square off in Week 3 this season. San Diego won last season's matchup handily but a lot of change has hit the squad. Will they challenge for the AFC West?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Recap: The Chargers won their first two games, including a 38-10 pounding of the Titans in Week 2. Things got a lot gloomier after Week 4 though, as the team posted both a three and four game losing streak by Week 13. The only win over the eight week span was one over the lowly Kansas City Chiefs. San Diego would stop their skid by beating the Steelers and then lose the next week against the Panthers. They ended their season on a positive note with two straight victories. The 7-9 season would be enough to cost GM A.J. Smith and coach Norv Turner their jobs. Tom Telesco was hired away from the Colts to rebuild the roster and he targeted former Denver coordinator Mike McCoy to be lead the team.

Draft Review: With the 11th overall pick San Diego shocked some by selecting Alabama guard/tackle DJ Fluker. Philip Rivers needs better protection and Mike McCoy recognizes that. There are still some concerns about Fluker though and what sort of scheme is best for him. Telesco continued to surprise when he moved a fourth round pick to move up in the second round, nabbing inside linebacker Manti Teo. The ESPN lightning rod will likely be used as a situational player right now and that should help breed success. Teo lacks elite coverage skills and that may end up being a long term concern. Using him on early downs could help hide that weakness right now. Mike McCoy got another toy in the third round when the team scooped up the falling Keenan Allen. Allen was one of the most polished receivers in the draft. He doesn't possess elite speed but his hands and route running are stellar. Look for Allen to have a strong rookie year if he can stay healthy. The late rounders (Steve Williams, Tourek Williams and Brad Sorensen) aren't really notable.

Free Agency Review: The Chargers offensive line woes were documented a little above. To help with the problem Max Starks, King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart were all brought in to compete for spots on the line. An underrated signing was former Patriot Danny Woodhead. Mike McCoy's known as a creative coordinator and he should find ways to get the ball to the diminutive back. Ryan Mathews is seemingly always injured so Woodhead should see plenty of opportunities. Dwight Freeney found a new home in San Diego as well. Does he have anything left in the tank? Perhaps a move back to a down lineman will help. As for free agency losses the Bolts lost two corners in Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason.

Most Dangerous Player to the Titans: Philip Rivers' play has decreased but there is no doubt he still has the ability to torch a secondary. The increased protection and arrival of Mike McCoy should help elevate his play once again. Either that or we'll find out if he is permanently on the downslope of his career. That possibility may very well be true but even considering that he's still in the top half of quarterbacks in the league.

Underrated Player: Danario Alexander has been a personal favourite ever since he's entered into the league. He's battled injuries and as a result hasn't been able to really carve out a permanent spot. If Rivers can find his groove again Alexander will be in line for a bigger impact.

Overrated Player: Every year Ryan Mathews is a chic pick for a breakout season and every year he disappoints. Whether its fumbling or injury issues Mathews hasn't produced enough to warrant the 12th overall pick in his draft.

2013 Outlook: Mike McCoy's a young coach who will bring some bright new ideas to the offensive side of the ball. Great quarterback play will lead to wins so a lot will fall on the McCoy-Rivers relationship. The Chargers used to have one of the best rosters in the NFL; over the past few years the talent and depth have deteriorated to the point where this is now considered a rebuild. San Diego has enough to beat the Chiefs and Raiders but won't get past the Broncos to squeak into the playoffs.

Prediction: 7-9