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Chargers could be top contender next season

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16958996/" target="_blank">MSNBC.com</a>

    By Bill Williamson

    <img src="http://msnbcmedia1.msn.com/j/msnbc/Components/Photos/070203/070203_rivers_vmed_2p.widec.jpg" title="The Chargers will need Philip Rivers to step up his game if they want to break through to the Super Bowl. " alt="The Chargers will need Philip Rivers to step up his game if they want to break through to the Super Bowl. " align="left" height="279" width="215" />It's never too early to look ahead. Yes, the gun has just sounded on the 2006 NFL season and the confetti is still falling in Indianapolis. But the NFL is now a 12-month business.

    It's time to move ahead to the 2007 season. Who's going to win the Super Bowl next year?

    There's definitely a group of serious contenders. Sure, things will change some through free agency and the draft, but there are some clear contenders from their current nucleus. The following is a look at some of the teams, sans Indianapolis and Chicago, that have a chance to be where the Colts and Bears just went.

    <strong>San Diego:</strong> The Chargers are going to have to get over their home loss to New England in the divisional round. The No. 1 seeded Chargers were the best team in the playoffs and had a 10-game winning streak. They were in control of the Patriots all game long. Still, they lost.

    In what will likely be Marty Schottenheimer's final season in San Diego, the Chargers must bounce back. They should be able to. This team is loaded. It has more stars than any team in the league. But the keys are Schottenheimer, a horrible 5-13 in the postseason and quarterback Philip Rivers. After starting off strong, Rivers fell off the map late in the season. Besides those issues, this team is ready for a run.

    <strong>Seattle:</strong> Could be the Bears' biggest competitor in the NFC. Seattle, the conference's Super Bowl XL representative, has to be healthier than it was in 2006. The two centerpieces of the team, quarterback Matt Hassselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander, missed a huge chunk of the season. The team has several other key injuries and played in the postseason with a makeshift secondary.

    The Seahawks, though, made a strong playoff push, losing at Chicago in the divisional playoffs in overtime.

    They are well coached under Mike Holmgren, they are a veteran team, they have a great home-field advantage and they are battle tested. Seattle, which blew the Super Bowl to Pittsburgh, is a team to watch very closely heading into 2007.

    <strong>New England:</strong> How can we deny Bill Belichick anymore? There is no way that roster should have been seconds away from the Super Bowl. But it's Belichick. He's brilliant. He'll always have his teams in the Super Bowl mix.

    If the Patriots can get some receiver help to take pressure off Tom Brady, this team will be even more dangerous come next January and February.

    <strong>New York Jets:</strong> Who can underestimate Eric Magnini? Belichick's former lieutenant had an amazing first season as a head coach. Magnini, 36, took one of the worst preseason rosters and made it a playoff team. The Jets are going to get better. Still, it may be difficult to believe that Chad Pennington can lead the Jets to the Super Bowl. But Magnini had such a turnaround there, the Jets have to be considered a Super Bowl threat.

    <strong>New Orleans:</strong> There's something brewing here. Both the Seahawks and the Bears have to worry about the Saints - for the next several years. With continued right personnel moves, this may be the next great power team.

    Coach Sean Payton was outstanding and had great chemistry with quarterback Drew Brees. Brees takes advantage of his strong supporting cast. Reggie Bush is going to get better as a running back and as an overall weapon.

    The Saints needs to get better on defense. But this team is on the rise.

    <strong>Tennessee:</strong> A dark horse, but if the Titans start the 2007 season like they finished the 2006 season, they could be a favorite. Tennessee started last season 0-5, but finished 8-8 after winning six straight games toward the end of the season.

    Rookie quarterback Vince Young showed that he is the winner he was at Texas. Young has great savvy and knows how to lead a team. He is only going to get better at it. Plus, coach Jeff Fisher knows what he's doing. Fisher and Young could combine for a very special season in Nashville.

    <strong>Philadelphia:</strong> Donovan McNabb said this week he will be recovered from a knee injury and he will be ready to take the team back to the Super Bowl. The Eagles made a nice playoff run with backup Jeff Garcia. Let's face it, Garcia is no McNabb. The Eagles got confident, having success without their leader. Now, with him, the Eagles have to feel even better about their chances next season.

    <strong>AFC Sleeper
    Buffalo:</strong> Every season there is a team that comes out of nowhere. It just may be the Bills. Yes, Dick Jauron's team has a long ways to go. But the team won seven games last season and showed strong signs. Quarterback J.P. Losman developed nicely. Keep an eye on this team.

    <strong>NFC Sleeper</strong>
    <strong>San Francisco:</strong> The 49ers will be a playoff team next season. And in the unpredictable NFC, they have to be taken seriously. The 49ers have a very nice nucleus on both sides of the ball and coach Mike Nolan is a winner. San Francisco has a ton of salary cap room and should make some nice additions. This team plays hard and has a desire to win. The glory days of Montana and Rice are suddenly a lot closer again.
     

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