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San Diego’s Daunting Docket


The Chargers got their first look at the 2016 schedule on Thursday, a daunting docket that gives the Bolts a chance to exorcise their divisional demons early on.

San Diego kicks off the season on the road against a Chiefs team that swept last year’s season series by a combined score of 43-6. Seeing the Chiefs so early is a big change from last season, when San Diego’s first game against its rivals in red did not come until Nov. 22.

The early divisional matchup sets the tone for the first half of the schedule. San Diego plays four division games in the first eight weeks, including two games against the Broncos in a 17-day stretch.

The Chargers will host the Broncos on Thursday Night Football in Week 6 — San Diego’s lone primetime game of the season — before seeing them again in Denver in Week 8. In between, the Bolts head to Atlanta for the first time since 2008.

“There obviously won’t be a lot of tape between those two [Denver] games,” Rivers told Chargers.com. “There will be a lot of carryover game plan. You’ll prepare for both games the first time you play, so that will be somewhat new.”

Another change from last season is the home-heavy closing stretch. Last season, San Diego played three of its final four games on the road, going 0-3 in those contests. This year, the Chargers play five of their final eight games at Qualcomm Stadium. The final three weeks of the season bring home games against the Raiders and Chiefs sandwiched around a trip to Cleveland.

“Hopefully we’ve gotten off to a good start in the first half, so we get to come home and our fans are excited,” Rivers said. “We’ll get to play in San Diego, where not only will the atmosphere and the crowd be behind us, but we should be playing in a good climate.”

Those games against the Raiders and Chiefs may have playoff implications, too, as most experts have pegged those two as the teams to beat in the AFC West. The Chargers are already gearing up for those games, fueled by their humiliating 0-6 record in division play last season.

There are some important stretches outside of the divisional, as well. The Chargers play consecutive home games prior to the Week 11 bye, hosting the Titans and Dolphins, respectively. Those teams combined to go 9-23 last season, so this could give the Chargers a chance to build some momentum heading into December (when Rivers is historically at his best).

After the bye, the Chargers travel to Houston to face the Brock Osweiler-led Texans. This will be Osweiler’s first game against the Chargers since Denzel Perryman, Steve Williams & Co. ran him to the bench in Week 17 last season.

After Osweiler, the Chargers will tango with two of the league’s best young QBs in Jameis Winston (Week 13) and Cam Newton (Week 14).

Lightning Quicks

-The home opener comes in Week 2 against the Jaguars. The Chargers have won their last five games against Jacksonville by an average score of 33-14.

The Chargers host all three Florida teams in 2016.

-After a trip to Indianapolis in Week 3, the Bolts return home to face former Chargers QB Drew Brees and the Saints. Since Brees left San Diego following the 2005 season, the Chargers are 0-2 against New Orleans.

-San Diego has a strength of schedule of 0.486, the 11th easiest lineup in the league.

About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for Scout.com and has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Football Insiders and MySpace Sports.

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