The previous year was the best for the Los Angeles Chargers in this decade. They finished second in the AFC West with a 12-4 record to snap a four-year playoff drought. The Chargers won the Wild Card Playoffs, beating the Baltimore Ravens 23-17 on the road, but Tom Brady and the Patriots were too much in the divisional round.
The Chargers lost 41-28 at Gillette Stadium, allowing whopping 35 first-half points to the Pats which certainly disappointed their fans who thought the Chargers stand a chance to finally reach the AFC Championship game after 11 long years. Still, it was a really good season for Philip Rivers and his teammates who went 8-2 straight up and ATS in ten outings on the road.
Rivers enters his 16th season in the league and didn’t miss a single regular-season game over the previous 13 years, so the big question is how much fuel left in his tank. The Chargers still believe Rivers is capable of leading them to the Super Bowl, but this could be his last shot with so many young guns stepping up around the league.
Super Bowl Odds: +1400
Odds to Win the AFC: +700
Odds to Win the AFC West: +190
Season Win Total: 9.5
(lines Weeks 2-16 from CG Technology as of May 16, 2019)
|10||@ Oakland (TNF)||-4||.66|
|11||Kansas City (MNF)||+2.5||.45|
|17||@ Kansas City||+8.5||.20|
Total Expected Wins: 9.41
The Chargers had a quiet offseason, deciding to stick with what they have and signing just a few names to fortify some lines in their team. The veteran LB Thomas Davis signed a two-year deal and will be a nice addition for the Chargers’ defense. Davis spent 14 years with the Carolina Panthers, making 12 starts last season.
Tyrod Taylor is the new backup quarterback, and he also signed a two-year contract. After spending three years in Buffalo where he was the starting QB, Taylor made just three starts with the Cleveland Browns last season, tossing for 473 yards and a couple of touchdowns while completing only 49.4% of his passes.
The head coach Anthony Lynn remained at the Chargers’ helm, as well as the offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and the defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. This will be Lynn’s third year with the Chargers, and after a 9-7 record in 2017, the last season was a significant improvement.
With the 28th overall pick at the 2019 Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers selected DT Jerry Tillery from Notre Dame. Tillery had a wonderful senior season with the Fighting Irish, recording 9.5 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks in 12 outings and leading his team to the College Football Playoff semifinal where they lost to Clemson. Hereof, Tillery should make an immediate impact in the NFL.
With their second-round pick, the Chargers drafted safety Nasir Adderley from Delaware, while OT Trey Pipkins from Sioux Falls was selected in the third round. The Chargers drafted another player from Notre Dame, picking LB Drue Tranquill in the fourth round. They wanted to strengthen their defense with draft picks, but Adderley and Tranquill could need some time for adjustment.
Philip Rivers had a good connection with his receiving corps in 2018, while Melvin Gordon was a huge force of the backfield, so the Chargers’ offense did a good job. They were averaging 26.8 points per game (tied-6th in the league) on 372.6 total yards per contest (11th). The Chargers ground game was 15th in the league with 117.1 rushing yards per outing.
Rivers tossed for 4308 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, completing 68.3% of his passing attempts. The offensive line was an issue from time to time, so Rivers suffered 32 sacks, but he still tied his career-high quarterback rating (105.5). Keenan Allen led the receiving corps with 97 catches for 1196 yards and six touchdowns, and he’ll be the main target for Rivers once again in 2019.
Melvin Gordon will lead the backfield, and the Chargers hope he’ll stay healthy this season after having problems with his right knee last year. In his 12 regular-season games, Gordon tallied 1375 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns. Austin Ekeler had a solid sophomore season, recording 958 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns, and he should continue to improve in 2019.
The Chargers had a well-balanced offense last season, and they surely want to stay on the same path. If they avoid injuries and the offensive line do a better job this term, the Chargers will be one of the best offensive teams in the league.
Surprisingly, the Chargers’ defense did an excellent job in 2018, besides that awful performance against the Patriots in the postseason. During the regular season, the Chargers were allowing 20.6 points per game (8th in the league) on 333.7 total yards per contest (9th). Their run defense was 9th in the league with 105.8 yards allowed per game. Also, the Chargers allowed 25 touchdowns from 50 red zone attempts which ranked them 5th-best in the league.
On the other hand, the Chargers allowed their rivals to convert 39.1% of their 3rd downs (18th in the league) and will need to do a better job this term. They were tied-19th in the league with 38 sacks and 25th with just 68 tackles for loss, so there is plenty of room for improvement. Melvin Ingram led the team with 7.0 sacks, while Derwin Jones had 105 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Joey Bosa had 5.5 sacks in seven appearances, missing the first half of a 2018 season due to an injury. Bosa and Ingram will be key players in this Chargers defense.
Notes & Nuggets
The Chargers are listed as favorites in all their first six games of the new season and will meet some tricky opponents in that span, especially at home. Indianapolis, Houston, Denver, or Pittsburgh could upset the Chargers in LA, so keep your eyes on these matchups. I highly doubt the Chargers’ chances to win all these four contests. On the other hand, the Chargers play 11 games before going on a bye which could help them to finish the season in a strong fashion.
Considering the spread chart, the Chargers will barely surpass a 9.5-mark on the season win total. I think they won’t win 12 games as they did in 2018, but the Chargers should grab ten victories and make it to the postseason for the second straight year. It will be a tall task to win seven games on the road once more, so keep it in mind when you see the Chargers playing at Tennessee, Chicago, and Denver.
They should finish second in the AFC West behind the Kansas City Chiefs, but a lot of factors will decide their playoff destiny. With all their stars healthy, the Chargers will be a tough rival to beat, but I wouldn’t invest my money in their Super Bowl appearance.