Pro Football Focus ranked the AFC West teams this week, and in those projections, the Steelers took the top spot with a 13-3 record, followed by the Patriots (12-4), Raiders (11-5) and Bengals (11-5).
As for the Chargers?
PFF has them 12th out of 16 teams, with a 6-10 record ... Just barely better than San Diego's record of 4-12 in 2015.
Here's their reasoning behind the ranking:
In 2015, the Chargers played a little better than their 4-12 record suggests, but not enough happened over the offseason to make us believe San Diego will be a lot better. They made some solid moves in free agency with cornerback Casey Hayward, safety Dwight Lowery, and center Matt Slauson, but they also lost talent in safety Eric Weddle (Ravens), cornerback Patrick Robinson (Colts), and wide receiver Malcom Floyd (retired). Their biggest move was adding defensive end Joey Bosa, the man with the most QB hits in college football last season (21). They simple don’t have enough star power to make a strong playoff run. Their only player with a grade above 85.0 last year—and under the age of 30—was cornerback Jason Verrett, who has yet to allow 100 passing yards in a game, and ended the season allowing just 8 and 7 yards in his last two games, respectively. -- ProFootballFocus
MY TAKE: I don't think the outlook is as dismal and gloomy as PFF suggests, but I'm not sure it's as rosy as some fans might want to believe, either. The Chargers should be better on defense this season, especially in the front seven. The offense should also be solid, with Philip Rivers at the helm and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt back with the team to add his touch. With the addition of players like wide receiver/kick returner Travis Benjamin and veteran center Matt Slauson, consistency will hopefully return in the run game and special teams. The Chargers also face what is expected to be an "easier" schedule than years past. Still, there are deficiencies that remain in the secondary as well as the uncertainty of how second- and third-year players will step up now that more veterans are gone ... And there is always the "Cloud of Health" that hangs over the Chargers. I give them 8-8.