San Diego missed the playoffs for a third straight season in 2012, resulting in Norv Turner's dismissal. Can rookie NFL head coach Mike McCoy get the Chargers back to the playoffs? Here's our look at the Chargers' 2013 NFL schedule.
San Diego Chargers 2013 Schedule:
Week 1: Houston (Mon.)
Week 2: at Philadelphia
Week 3: at Tennessee
Week 4: Dallas
Week 5: at Oakland
Week 6: Indianapolis (Mon.)
Week 7: at Jacksonville
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: at Washington
Week 10: Denver
Week 11: at Miami
Week 12: at Kansas City
Week 13: Cincinnati
Week 14: New York Giants
Week 15: at Denver (Thurs.)
Week 16: Oakland
Week 17: Kansas City
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Out of the Gate: The good news is that Mike McCoy gets to begin his NFL head-coaching career at home in the "Monday Night Football" spotlight. The bad news is the opponent is Houston, the defending AFC South champions. Things get a little easier after that with back-to-back games against Philadelphia and Tennessee, although both of those are on the road. September wraps up at home versus Dallas. The Chargers and the Cowboys are similar in that each team has missed the playoffs each of the past three seasons and has an embattled starting quarterback. Misery loves company perhaps?
Toughest Stretch: The beginning of December is not kind to the Chargers, who will play the Bengals, Giants and Broncos in a row. Two of these teams made the playoffs last season and even though the Giants didn't, they finished 2012 with a 9-7 record and should be right back in the postseason mix again this season. San Diego does get Cincinnati and the Giants at home, but the Chargers have go to Denver for the second half of their Manning double-dip and this divisional contest also will take place on a Thursday. The Bengals' Andy Dalton may not have a Super Bowl ring like Eli and Peyton, but he did throw 27 touchdown passes in leading his team to the playoffs last season. Together, they form a tough trio of quarterbacks that the Chargers have to face to open the final month of the season. It goes without saying that San Diego really needs their Pro Bowl quarterback (Philip Rivers) to be at the top of his game come Week 13.
Easiest Stretch: Getting off to a strong start would not only be huge for McCoy in his first season as a head coach, but also for a Chargers team that struggled do so under his predecessor, Norv Turner. While a season opening matchup with Houston is anything but ideal, the opportunity to string some wins together in the first half of the schedule appears to be there. Besides the Texans, the only other 2012 postseason participant the Chargers play before going on bye in Week 8 is the Colts (home, Week 6). Even though the rest of their games are on the road except for Dallas in Week 4, the Chargers should have no worse than a fighting chance against the Eagles, Titans, Raiders and Jaguars. If San Diego enters November with at least three or four wins that would have to be considered a promising beginning to the McCoy era.
Circle The Calendar: Crossover games with the AFC South and NFC East mean Houston, Indianapolis, Dallas and the New York Giants all will be paying rare visits to San Diego this season. The two games with Denver are always important because they are divisional matchups, but this season's meetings will have a little extra to them as McCoy, who served as the Broncos' offensive coordinator the past four seasons, will be taking on his former team and boss (John Fox) for the first time.
Divisional Notes: The Chargers play just one AFC West game (at OAK, Week 5) prior to its Week 8 bye, meaning five of their final nine are divisional contests. The first meeting with Denver comes at home in Week 10 with the rematch set for Thursday night in Week 15. That game is the first of three straight divisional matchups to end the season, which culminates with back-to-back home dates with Oakland and Kansas City. If San Diego can stay afloat during the first half of its schedule, there's no telling what may happen in the AFC West with so many divisional games crammed into the final two months.
Playoff Push: The playoffs seem to be somewhat of a lofty goal for McCoy's first season in San Diego, but if that possibility remains entering December the Chargers will have their work cut out for them. The final month of the season opens with Cincinnati at home and a Manning brothers doubleheader. Eli and the Giants will be making the cross-country trip to southern California in Week 14, with the Chargers then heading to Denver to face Peyton and the Broncos on a short turnaround for the Thursday night game the following week. San Diego wraps the season up with three straight divisional contests, including the final two against Oakland and Kansas City at home. Even if the Chargers are clearly out of playoff contention come December, a strong final month to the season would be a huge momentum builder for McCoy and his team.
Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): The Chargers won’t have to venture far during the fantasy playoffs with their only road game taking place in Denver. The Broncos also are the only top-10 fantasy defense from last season that Philip Rivers and company will face — both the Giants and Raiders were among the bottom 10 against QBs. The Broncos did have their struggles against TEs (30th), so Rivers and Antonio Gates may do some damage in Denver.
2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis: