The Season Ahead: LA Chargers

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    The Los Angeles Chargers had high expectations going into the 2019-2020 NFL Season. They were coming off an impressive 12-4 year the season prior to this, their best since the controversial move to LA. In those playoffs, they took out the AFC North champion Baltimore Ravens, with rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson at the helm. Unfortunately for the Bolts, they were eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl Champion, New England Patriots. The playoff run sparked a sense of hope for fans of the Chargers, that maybe next season could be THE ONE. The season that they could finally do what the San Diego Chargers couldn’t. Win a Super Bowl. What the fans (myself included) soon found out was that this was not the season. Everything went wrong. Injuries to star and role players, crushing mistakes in the final minutes of games, and just not being able to put together a full 60 minutes of good football. All this lead to the Chargers finishing with a division worse 5-11 record. The Chargers went from a promising year to a disastrous one the next. To make things worse, they also lost key players in the off-season. Left Tackle Russell Okung was traded to Carolina. Fullback Derek Watt joined his brother T.J. in Pittsburgh. Running Back Melvin Gordon finally got the payday he was looking for with the division-rival Denver Broncos. The biggest departure of all was letting the franchise quarterback and veteran Philip Rivers sign with the Indianapolis Colts. Although the Bolts have acquired a few big names in Chris Harris Jr, Bryan Bulaga, and seemingly the next franchise quarterback Justin Herbert from the draft. This has left the fans wondering, just how good will the Chargers be this season? Will it be a surprising run for the teams’ first Lombardi Trophy? Or will it be more of the same in LA? With the schedules for all 32 teams being released today, I figured it would be a great time to check out how the Bolts will do this year.

    NOTE: These rankings are made by a life-long Chargers fan who tried to be as unbiased as possible, and with the assumption that the Bolts are healthy all season long. (Which is asking a lot of the Chargers given their recent luck with injury.)

    Week 1: Cincinnati Bengals: This should be a guaranteed win for the Chargers. Unless everything goes right and the Bengals play flawlessly, this should be a for-sure win for the Chargers. Result: W, (1-0)

    Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs: I don’t see the Chargers winning against the defending champs. KC did not have any notable departures over the off-season and if anything they have a good chance at winning the division, again. Result: L, (1-1)

    Week 3: Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are looking different this season, most notably at the quarterback position. Kyle Allen and Cam Newton are gone, leaving newly signed Teddy Bridgewater as their starter. In my thought process, if the Chargers control Christian McCaffrey, they can win the game. Result: W, (2-1)

    Week 4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: This game is tough to predict. This season the Bucs will either be great and make the playoffs or flop and go nowhere. Of course, Tampa got the “prize of free agency” in Tom Brady, which lured Rob Gronkowski out of retirement to play with his pal Tom. If the Buccaneers have a good season, they win this game. If they don’t, they don’t win this game. Let’s hope for the best and assume they don’t. Result: W, (3-1)

    Week 5: New Orleans Saints: Over the past few seasons, the Saints have been consistent in the regular season and regular Super Bowl Contenders. If they have another great year this one will be in the win column for NOLA. But perhaps the Chargers could pull off an upset on Monday Night Football? Result: L, (3-2)

    Week 6: New York Jets: Despite turning the season around last year after a rough start, in my opinion the Chargers take home a W against New York. NY finished near dead last in average points per game, total yardage per game, as well as passing and rushing yards per game. If the struggles continue this year, it should be an easy win for LA. Result: W, (4-2)

    Week 7: Miami Dolphins: In my opinion the Bolts come out on top here. The Chargers won in convincing fashion last season, and with a relatively identical Dolphins lineup (with the exception of Tua Tagovailoa), I think LA wins this one. Result: W, (5-2)

    Week 8: Jacksonville Jaguars: Chargers likely win this game. Jacksonville struggled last year with a 6-10 record with “starter” Nick Foles out the majority of the year. The Jags traded Foles to the Bears this season making Gardner Minshew the undisputed QB1. Honestly, I do not think he is up to starter caliber yet, and with the blowout the Jaguars took at the hands of LA last season, I do not see things being much different this season. Result: W, (6-2)

    Week 9: Las Vegas Raiders: Although the Chargers had their struggles against Oakland last year, I think they could steal at least one win versus the Raiders this season, despite their acquisitions of the aging Jason Witten and Nelson Agholor. Result: W, (7-2)

    (Week 10 Bye Week)

    Week 11: Denver Broncos: Seems like it happens every year but the Chargers will lose at least one game to the Broncos this season. Chris Harris will be facing his former team as well as Melvin Gordon. I feel this could be a close one however, and if this season is anything like last season it’ll likely be a costly clutch time error that causes our downfall. Result: L, (7-3)

    Week 12: Buffalo Bills: This is one of very few games where I just don’t see LA winning. The Bills were set for a big playoff run last year that unfortunately ended for them quicker than they expected but with a weaker, less-dominant AFC East, a more refined and developed Josh Allen, and a big target for Allen in Stefon Diggs, LA likely drops his one. Result: L, (7-4)

    Week 13: New England Patriots: In Week 13, the Chargers will be taking their first crack at the new Brady-less Patriots. Personally, I think that the Bolts could have a shot at winning this game. As of 5/7/20, the presumed Patriots’ starting quarterback will likely be Jared Stidham. An inexperienced QB with weapons at his disposal such as Julian Edleman, Mohamed Sanu Jr, and Sony Michel. If all goes well, I feel the Chargers could win this game. Result: W, (8-4)

    Week 14: Atlanta Falcons: This is a winnable game in my opinion. Despite Atlanta’s 7-9 campaign last season, I don’t see the Falcons improving this year (record-wise). The Chargers should take advantage of this opportunity. Result: W, (9-4)

    Week 15: Las Vegas Raiders: This is another one of those games that are 50/50 as to who comes out on top. As of now, this is a pretty equal game in terms of talent. Personally I think we’ll split the season series versus LV. It will come down to a matter of who has a better game, honestly. But this time I think the Raiders come out on top. Result: L, (9-5)

    Week 16: Denver Broncos: In both games versus the Broncos this year, its a 50/50 shot as to who wins. Statically the Chargers have struggled against the Broncos and I don’t see that changing this year. I think the Chargers will start the season off strong against their division rivals on their first of two Monday Night Football games. Result: W, (10-5)

    Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs: L. Again, right now I just do not think the Chargers can match the Chiefs. Everything would need to go right for LA to win this. But unless we get the magic we saw in Week 15 on Thursday Night Football 2 seasons ago, we can put this in the Loss Column. Result: L, (10-6)

    So, my optimistic prediction is 10-6 with a wild card spot. However, like it seems every year, the Chargers have a chance to go (at best) 12-4. But what do you think of LA’s Chances this season? Will the Bolts make a return to the playoffs? Or will it be a typical Chargers season, disappointing and forgettable? What games do you agree or disagree with? Let me hear your thoughts!

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