2007 Chargers look to recapture 2006 magic after heartbreaking loss to Patriots

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This article is part of the FanSided 15 Celebration, which celebrates 15 years since the launch of the first FanSided site, Arrowhead Addict. Let's turn back the time machine with a season preview for the 2007 Chargers.

Well, the 2006 season could not have ended in a more heartbreaking fashion. After a 14-2 regular season that saw LaDainian Tomlinson break the all-time touchdown record, the San Diego Chargers fell short in the AFC Divisional Round to the New England Patriots. Marlon McCree fumbled what would have been a game-winning interception and Nate Kaeding missed the game-tying field goal, prompting the Patriots to do Shawne Merriman's lights-out dance on the lightning bolt at midfield.

The Patriots went on to lose in the AFC Championship Game to an Indianapolis Colts team that the Chargers could have beaten. The Colts went on to win the Super Bowl over the Chicago Bears. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had a lot of early success in winning Super Bowls but it would not be that surprising if Brady gets stuck at three rings considering he has never been an All-Pro. Joe Montana is likely safe. Maybe Brady was just a flash in the pan.

As far as the San Diego Chargers go, it is hard to not be excited after the 14-2 season in 2006. While the coaching staff is different, the Bolts have not lost much talent.

Chargers 2007 season preview:

Coaching staff changes:

Marty Schottenheimer, Cam Cameron and Wade Phillips are no longer on the coaching staff. Replacing Schottenheimer is Norv Turner, who last coached for the Oakland Raiders. Turner has a career 58-82 record as a head coach, although he won two Super Bowls as the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys.

Clarence Shelmon and Ted Cottrell are the offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively. The team also hired Rob Rivera to be the linebackers coach. Rivera is coming off a three-year stint as the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears. Some say he could be a head coach one day.

Draft class:

The Chargers' draft class is headlined by 30th overall pick Craig Davis and 37th overall pick Eric Weddle. Davis is a senior receiver from LSU that should give young quarterback Philip Rivers another solid target in the passing game.

Despite it being the second pick, the more talked about move was drafting Eric Weddle with the 37th overall pick. The Bolts traded the 62nd overall pick, 93rd overall pick, 167th overall pick and next year's third-round pick to move up and take Weddle. Hopefully, the clean-shaven Utah safety can be worth all the draft capital he cost.

Chargers 2007 season prediction:

Coming off of a historic season for LT and a solid first season as a starter from Philip Rivers, the Chargers are in a great position to make an even deeper run in the 2007 playoffs. The 2007 schedule is a bit tougher than the 2006 schedule, which includes a rematch against the Patriots in Week 2.

With a tougher record and the fact that a 14-2 record is hard to replicate, I will predict that the Chargers finish with an 11-5 record, which should still be good enough to win the AFC West. The AFC West is not that great and I would be surprised if another team even finishes with a .500 record or better.

There is this new Chiefs site called Arrowhead Addict — launched by brothers Zach and Adam Best — who don't think the Chargers can win the division for the second year in a row. They're likely just jealous of the Chargers, who are definitely going to win a Super Bowl before the Chiefs ever do. Kansas City hasn't won a playoff game since 1993, after all!

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Despite finishing with a worse record, the Chargers will make it farther in the playoffs because of the experience they accumulated in the 2006 playoffs. First, the Chargers will make a statement by beating the defending-champion Colts in the AFC Divisional Round.

That should set up a rematch against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship. As long as Philip Rivers doesn't tear his ACL or LT doesn't sprain his MCL, the Chargers should be able to get revenge on the Patriots to make the Super Bowl.

As far as the Chargers' opponent in Super Bowl XLII, it would be nice to see Philip Rivers and the Chargers take on — and defeat — the man who didn't want to be a Charger, Eli Manning.