*Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RM

2016 Record: 5-11

NFL Draft: Rd 1- WR, Mike Williams; Rd 2- G, Forrest Lamp; Rd 3- G, Dan Feeney; Rd 4- S, Rayshawn Jenkins; Rd 5- S, Desmond King; Rd 6- OT, Sam Tevi; Rd 7- DT, Isaac Rochell

Pitt Players: None

Team Overview:

I have to be completely honest here, I am VERY excited to see the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers play this year.  I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Philip Rivers, but I respect the h*ck out of his game. The guy is a sure-fire Hall of Famer like his fellow NFL Draft Class of 2004 alumni Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning.  The Chargers’ new coach, Anthony Lynn, has been set up for an uplifting year as the team had a strong draft.  Mike Williams, when healthy, will prove to be an excellent offensive weapon alongside Keenan Allen.  Rookie guards Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney are going to be great assets for this team on the offensive line.  Though Lamp tore his ACL, I think he’ll come back next year and show everyone why he was worthy of being a second round pick.

The Chargers’ offense has potential to be in the top half of the league.  As I said earlier, Rivers is a top notch QB, but he can’t play forever. Realizing this, the Chargers traded for Cardale Jones, in the hopes that he will develop under Rivers into their next starting QB.  LA might be home to the most underrated group of wide receivers in the league.  This is a group that features Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, and Dontrelle Inman.  The Chargers also have excellent tight ends in Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, and Jeff Cumberland.  This team is also solid at the running back position with Melvin Gordon, Branden Oliver, Andre Williams, and Kenjon Barner.  At the skill positions, this team is absolutely stacked.  Opposing defense should fear this offense.

I’m a bit less excited to see this Chargers defense, but there are some individual players that are definitely worth watching.  Joey Bosa is an absolute stud, and I expect him to have an even better sophomore season.  The hype was all around players like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott last year amongst the rookies, but Bosa could become the best player from last year’s draft.  He could could also help the Chargers get a large fan base in LA if he can effectively set the tone for this defense.  Overall, this defense is solid, and they should be about average this year.  The strength of this team is its offense, but don’t sleep on this defense either.  The Los Angeles Chargers aren’t a playoff team this year, but they’re gonna play spoiler to other teams in their division.

Game by Game Predictions:

Week 1: Away at the Denver Broncos

Playing in Denver against a top notch defense is a difficult task.  To play there in the opening week of the season on Monday Night Football is even tougher.  I really like this Chargers team, but the Broncos could be headed for the playoffs this year.  The Broncos will win this one, but it’ll be close.  The Denver defense will be the difference maker here.

Predicted Score: 21-17 Broncos (Current Record: 0-1)

Week 2: Home vs the Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins looked like they could be a playoff contender before Ryan Tannehill’s injury.  Unfortunately, the starting quarterback of the Dolphins is now Jay Cutler, who I have no faith in.  I really like the Chargers in this matchup, and they’ll come out of this one with a close win.

Predicted Score: 28-17 Chargers (Current Record: 1-1)

Week 3: Home vs the Kansas City Chiefs

This one will be a big game early in the season.  The consistently good Chiefs are playing the up-and-coming Chargers.  I said in my piece on the Chiefs that they’re probably headed for the playoffs.  I’ll stick with my original score here, but it’ll be close.

Predicted Score: 24-21 Chiefs (Current Record: 1-2)

Week 4: Home vs the Philadelphia Eagles

In my Eagles piece I said that Philly would come out with a win.  I’ll stick with that score, but don’t sleep on the Chargers here.  Both of these teams are evenly matched and either one could come out on top.  That said, the Eagles’ defense is better than that of the Chargers, and that will be the difference maker here.

Predicted Score: 31-27 Eagles (Current Record: 1-3)

Week 5: Away at the New York Giants

In the Chargers’ first visit to MetLife Stadium this year they’ll play the Giants, who went to the playoffs last season.  This will be a duel between Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, who were traded for one another in the 2004 NFL Draft.  New York is deadly on both sides of the ball, and they outmatch the Chargers in every way.  I expect the Giants to win this one by two scores.

Predicted Score: 14-3 Giants (Current Record: 1-4)

Week 6: Away at the Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders are going to be one of the best teams in football this year, so I expect them to win this one with ease.  The Raiders have a top 3 quality offense, and a defense that has only improved this offseason.  Oakland will win this one by at least two scores, maybe even more.

Predicted Score: 28-13 Raiders (Current Record: 1-5)

Week 7: Home vs the Denver Broncos

I said earlier that the Broncos would win in Week 1, but the Chargers will upset the Denver Broncos in LA.  The Chargers beat the Broncos last year at home (in San Diego), and I expect them to repeat history.  Los Angeles will win this one in OT, and Joey Bosa will get 2 sacks.

Predicted Score: 9-6 Chargers (Current Record: 2-5)

Week 8: Away at the New England Patriots

I have said this multiple times on podcasts and in pieces, but I’ll say it again: The New England Patriots are the best team in the NFL and got even better this year.  This Patriots will win this one easily.  They possess a better offense and defense, it’s as simple as that.

Predicted Score: 24-10 Patriots (Current Record: 2-6)

Week 9: Bye-Week

The Chargers’ record won’t show how good of team they are.  They’re in the most competitive division in football and have a tough schedule this year on top of that.  They’ll be 2-6 at this point, but this team is much better than that.

Current Predicted Record: 2-6

Week 10: Away at the Jacksonville Jaguars

Whether it’s Chad Henne or Blake Bortles starting by this point, it won’t matter, because the Chargers are a far better team.  I expect LA to win this one by two scores.  The Jaguars defense is going to be good this year, but they won’t able to hold off this dangerous Chargers offense for long.  The Chargers’ D could get a touchdown here.

Predicted Score: 28-9 Chargers (Current Record: 3-6)

Week 11: Home vs the Buffalo Bills

The Bills offense is going to be alright at best, but their defense could be good.  Sean McDermott is a good coach, but you can’t coach talent into untalented guys.  Shady McCoy could have a nice game, but the Chargers will win.  LA possess a superior offense, and I can see them scoring with ease against Buffalo.

 

Predicted Score: 27-14 Chargers (Current Record: 4-6)

Week 12: Away at the Dallas Cowboys

I think this is going to be a shootout.  This game matches up two great offenses against two average defenses.  This could be an upset, due to the weakness of the Cowboys  defense, but in the end I expect Dallas to still sneak out with a win.  Regardless of the result, this one should be fun to watch.

Predicted Score: 42-38 Cowboys (Current Record: 4-7)

Week 13: Home vs the Cleveland Browns

I have a lot of faith in DeShone Kizer, but the Chargers are a far better team than the Browns.  Even though the Browns snuck out a win against the Chargers last year, don’t expect them to have the same luck.

Predicted Score: 35-20 Chargers (Current Record: 5-7)

Week 14: Home vs the Washington Redskins

The Redskins are looking like they’ll be a mess in 2017.  I don’t know their identity, and the drama surrounding Kirk Cousins this past offseason can hurt a locker room.  I think the Chargers are a better team overall, and with the weapons on LA’s offense I just can’t see the Washington D holding up.

Predicted Score: 20-9 Chargers (Current Record: 6-7)

Week 15: Away at the Kansas City Chiefs

I called this one for the Chargers in my piece on the Chiefs.  Ya know what? I’ll stick to my guns.

Predicted Score: 16-10 (OT) Chargers (Current Record: 7-7)

Week 16: Away at the New York Jets

The New York Jets aren’t going to be a good team this year.  They lack an offense, and their defense won’t be able to hold down the Chargers’ powerful O.  I think LA will win with ease, and New York will score their two TDs in garbage time.

Predicted Score: 28-14 Chargers (Current Record: 8-7)

Week 17: Home vs the Oakland Raiders

On the Locker Room Podcast Episode 15, we agreed that Oakland would win this one.  I’ll stick with that prediction because the Raiders look like a Super Bowl-ready team.  I’ve been generous to the Chargers in this piece in some ways, but they’re not good enough to defeat the Raiders.  I expect LA to score points late in the game when Oakland has locked themselves into the 1 or 2 Seed in the AFC.

Predicted Score: 35-24 Raiders (Current Record: 8-8)

Final Results:

I called a few upsets here, but I can realistically see the Chargers end the season with 6 to 8 wins.  Regardless, if this team was in the NFC they could be a playoff team.  Their record won’t show how talented they are, but they’re still not playoff ready.  This team is unfortunate enough to play in the toughest division in football, but they’re building an incredible group.  This team won’t make the playoffs, but Chargers fans shouldn’t be demotivated.  There is so much potential for this franchise in LA, and with a solid first season, they’ll become the premier team in Los Angeles.

Predicted Record: 8-8

Sam Bleifer is a student at the University of Pittsburgh (Class of 2019) who is majoring in Political Science and History, and minoring in Philosophy. Sam was born and raised in New Jersey and never stops talking about how great Newark airport is (seriously). He aspires to go into politics one day and hopes to run for office in New Jersey. Sam is the host of Spotlight and The Honesty Hour.

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