Schedule favors the home team

Defending their turf is the motto for the San Diego Chargers this upcoming season.                                        

The Chargers are busy looking for a new home, hoping to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium.

There is something else they want to change: their woes at home last season.

Among the reasons the Chargers wore the "best team not to make the playoffs" tag was their shoddy showing in San Diego. A 9-7 overall mark left the 2005 Chargers outside the postseason picture, thanks to the team's lack of focus at home.

The Chargers were among five teams last year to claim more triumphs on the road (five) than at home (four). By managing a no-better-than .500 mark at Qualcomm Stadium, the team's quest for its second playoff appearance since 1995 was sabotaged.

General manager A.J. Smith has pointed to the Chargers' lack of protecting their home turf as among last year's biggest disappointments, calling it unacceptable.

"We did some remarkable things on the road," Smith admitted before adding, "The home schedule at 4-4 is totally unacceptable."

Will this year be different? It nearly has to be if the Chargers want to active come January. A peek at the home slate shows the Chargers could better last year's inept performance.

The schedule is back-loaded in games at San Diego. Consider in the season's opening month the Chargers have but one contest at Qualcomm, a Sept. 17 date with the rebuilding Tennessee Titans.

Their second home game on the evening of Oct. 8 is considerably tougher against the world champion Steelers. Last year, though, the Chargers nearly knocked off Pittsburgh in a home Monday night game.

The wobbly Rams wrap up the month, leaving the Chargers with six home games in the season's final two months.

The Chargers should have a shot of winning their two November home games against the mediocre Browns and the Raiders, who finished last in the AFC West in '05.

That leaves a December home menu of Denver, Kansas City and Arizona.

The home cards, in theory, are stacked in the Chargers' favor. They know the deal: they must improve at home if hoping to be a playoff team.

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