The Chargers had a rather up and down year in their inaugural season in Los Angeles in 2017. They started the season 0-4, almost immediately taking away any hope of reaching the playoffs. However, the Chargers managed to bounce back and win nine of their last 12 games to finish the season 9-7. It was a positive sign for the team’s new fan base. It just wasn’t enough to get the Chargers to the playoffs.
But that strong finish to the 2017 season has created some hope for the 2018 campaign. Philip Rivers is still playing at a high level and still chasing that elusive Super Bowl ring. Of course, the Chargers haven’t even won the AFC West since 2009 or made the playoffs but 2013, so it’s been a while since this franchise has tasted much success. Nevertheless, there is hope that this year’s team has a chance to make some noise in the AFC.
Oddsmakers list the Chargers at +2000 to win the Super Bowl. Those aren’t great odds for a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs recently. However, they are better than any every other team in the AFC team outside of the Patriots and Steelers. The Chargers are also projected to win eight games. Taking the over on that would appear to be a slam dunk after Los Angeles won nine games a year go.
After throwing for over 4,500 yards last season, we know that Rivers can still play. But it’s a matter of getting him enough help. Keenan Allen came back in a big way last year after sitting out most of 2016 with an injury. He’s the clear no. 1 target, but Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin need to do more in supplementary roles.
The Chargers are also hoping for a big sophomore year from former first-round pick Mike Williams, who was slow to get going as a rookie. With Antonio Gates moving on and Hunter Henry hurt, the Chargers can’t count on much from their tight ends this year, so those receivers need to step up.
Los Angeles could also use more from its running game. Mike Pouncey was brought in to help solidify the offensive line and create holes for Melvin Gordon, who averaged less than 4 yards per rush last year. Unfortunately for the Chargers, they don’t have a second back to pair with Gordon. Austin Ekeler garnered just 47 carries last year and now he has to compete with seventh-round pick Justin Jackson for the backup job.
It’s actually on the defensive side of the ball where the Chargers are getting their hopes up. The pass-rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram is one of the most dangerous in the NFL. But if the rest of their front-7 doesn’t do a better job of containing the run, those two won’t get as many opportunities to wreak havoc in the backfield.
In the secondary, the Chargers have already lost Jason Verrett to a season-ending injury. Pro-Bowler Casey Hayward is still around to give Los Angeles one reliable cornerback. First-round pick Derwin James also figures to give the Chargers a bonafide playmaker at safety. But questions linger about the rest of the secondary.
The potential is definitely there for the Chargers, especially after their strong finish to the 2017 season. But with questions about their ability to stop the run and provide enough support for Rivers, it’s tough to guarantee that they’ll meet or exceed their win projection or even end up on top in the AFC West.
|Sep 9||Kansas City Chiefs||4:05 PM|
|Sep 16||@ Buffalo Bills||1:00 PM|
|Sep 23||@ Los Angeles Rams||4:05 PM|
|Sep 30||San Francisco 49ers||4:25 PM|
|Oct 7||Oakland Raiders||4:05 PM|
|Oct 14||@ Cleveland Browns||1:00 PM|
|Oct 21||Tennessee Titans||9:30 AM|
|Nov 4||@ Seattle Seahawks||4:05 PM|
|Nov 11||@ Oakland Raiders||4:05 PM|
|Nov 18||Denver Broncos||4:05 PM|
|Nov 25||Arizona Cardinals||4:05 PM|
|Dec 2||@ Pittsburgh Steelers||1:00 PM|
|Dec 9||Cincinnati Bengals||4:05 PM|
|Dec 13||@ Kansas City Chiefs||8:20 PM|
|Dec 23||Baltimore Ravens||4:05 PM|
|Dec 30||@ Denver Broncos||4:25 PM|
The Chargers will open the 2018 season with three teams that made the playoffs last year. Things may get a little easier after that. However every game against an AFC West opponent is a rivalry game, so all six of those games are a virtual toss-up. The Chargers also have to make road trips to Seattle and Pittsburgh the second half of the season, so it could be tough to string wins together like they did last year.
With a tough schedule right out of the gate, another slow start is a distinct possibility for the Chargers. With a fast start, this team could gain confidence and do some damage in the AFC this year. However, with the questions they face, it seems more likely they will get bogged down in mediocrity and never reach the potential many people feel they have heading into the season.