A 13-3 record is a rather bold prediction, and not one I would have blurted out as a knee-jerk reaction. However, after looking at each game on the schedule, I feel as if the non-divisional scheduling plays into Chargers favor. So, here are my thoughts on how each game of the season will end up.
Week 1: Indianapolis Colts (Home)
Chargers win with defense as offense looks rusty behind porous offensive line. Score: 23-13
I could see this as being a sloppy week one win in which the defense creates some turnovers and ultimately carries the offense to victory. I expect the offensive line to struggle mightily out of the gate. It might look pretty bad for that group before perhaps getting better as the season progresses.
Record: 1 - 0
Week 2: Detroit Lions (Away)
The offense rebounds and carries the defense to a shootout win. Score: 38-34
The Lions could be a sneaky good team this year. They are getting Kerryon Johnson back from injury, Kenny Golladay is an up-and-coming star, and they just drafted TJ Hockenson - one of the most complete tight end prospects to come out of the draft in years. I think Hockenson and Johnson give the Charger linebackers problems and keep the game close, but Rivers and company pull it out.
Record: 2 - 0
Week 3: Houston Texans (Home)
The Chargers out-pressure the Texans to win an easy one at home. Score: 31-16
I like how the Chargers match up with the Texans on paper. I think the talented Los Angeles secondary can limit the damage done by DeAndre Hopkins - forcing a rather unassuming running game to be the key to a Texan's win. The one aspect of this game that concerns me is whether or not the Charger tackles can slow down the Watt/Clowney combination. I'm not sure they can, but I believe the Texans will have an even tougher time stopping Bosa and Ingram.
Record: 3 - 0
Week 4: Miami Dolphins (Away)
The Bolts superiority is on full display as LA routs Miami. Score: 41-12
This could be one of those cliche "trap games," but I don't really buy it. The Dolphins have perhaps the worst roster in the league, the Chargers have one of the best. This is an easy call. I think the Bolts will overwhelm the Dolphins for their fourth straight win to start the season.
Record: 4 - 0
Week 5: Denver Broncos (Home)
The Jack Boys force several turnovers as the Chargers win five straight. Score: 23-16
Over the course of Joe Flacco's career, he has shown a willingness to give the other team the ball. The Chargers have made it a point of emphasis this year to take it. I think those two factors will come together in glorious fashion for the Bolts in their first divisional win of the year.
Record: 5 - 0
Week 6: Pittsburgh Steelers (Home)
LA comes through in prime time with a narrow win against Pittsburgh. Score: 26-24
Steeler fans were crying foul last year after a missed false start resulted in a crucial Charger score. The prime time rematch will prove to be equally as tense with the game perhaps coming down to another Badgely field goal to win it.
Record: 6 - 0
Week 7: Tennessee Titans (Away)
The Chargers continue their league-best win streak with another dominant performance from their defense. Score: 19-10
I am a little concerned about the possibility of Derrick Henry finding some room to run on the Chargers, but the Titan's inability to pass downfield should cause more defenders to crowd the box and limit what the Titan's offense can do.
Record: 7 - 0
Week 8: Chicago Bears (Away)
LA suffers its first loss of the season on the road against the Bears. Score: 13-20
This is one where the scheduling gets them. I think if this were a home game, I'd slot the Chargers in for the win. Beating a tough Bears team on the road is a lot to ask. I'd look for Tarik Cohen to have a big game catching the ball out of the backfield. He's an electric player with the ball in his hands.
Record: 7 - 1
Week 9: Green Bay Packers (Home)
Green Bay's defense can't slow down the Charger offense as the Bolts rebound at home. Score: 36-27
Aaron Rodgers is always a problem for defenses. So, you know you're going to have to score some points to beat the Packers. Fortunately, I don't think the Packer defense will be very good this year, and their offense will not have enough weapons to compensate in this one.
Record: 8 - 1
Week 10: Oakland Raiders (Away)
The Charger's make short work of the Raiders on the road. Score: 30-16
A lot has been said about the Raider's offseason and the moves they made, but I still see a sizable gap between them and top teams such as LA. By this point in the season, I think there would have already been some turmoil between Antonio Brown and Derek Carr due to the lack of the team's success. I think that is put on full display as the Chargers get their first look at this new Raider team.
Record: 9 - 1
Week 11: Kansas City Chiefs (Home)
Chargers still can't solve the Chiefs as they drop their second game of the season. Score: 28-35
If my predictions play out (which they almost CERTAINLY will), the Chiefs will be going into this game pretty desperate. They would be looking up in the division at the Chargers, and knowing that a loss in week 11 could put the division title out of reach. I think Pat Mahomes will come back to earth a little in 2019, but will still be a top five quarterback and will lead his team to a victory here.
Record: 9 - 2
Week 13: Denver Broncos (Away)
Denver can't get out of their own way as the Chargers eek out a win in a defensive struggle. Score: 16-13
If you haven't guessed, I'm not too high on the Flacco-led Broncos. I never saw him as a legitimate starting quarterback. The boo-birds are going to fly in this one as Flacco proves ineffectual and unable to take advantage of his defense's strong showing.
Record: 10 - 2
Week 14: Jacksonville Jaguars (Away)
Behind an efficient offense and smothering defense, the Jaguars hand the Chargers loss number three. Score: 26-18
Two years ago the Jaguars looked like they were going to be the team to beat in the AFC. Then 2018 happened and they saw just how bad Blake Bortles was. Well Bortles is gone, but the bones that made that 2017 team so good are still there. Foles should prove more formidable and less apt at turning the ball over. This is a tough matchup.
Record: 10 - 3
Week 15: Minnesota Vikings (Home)
The Chargers pull out a back-and-forth game late on a Badgely walk-off field goal. Score: 24-21
The overly-specific prediction is only meant to express how close I think this game could be. The Chargers are fortunate they get to play this one at home. Diggs and Thielen will be tough to stop, but I think they will manage and pull out a close one.
Record: 11 - 3
Week 16: Oakland Raiders (Home)
The Chargers trounce the Raiders at home as they look to lock up the top seed in the AFC. Score: 37-17
At this point in the season, the Raiders would like nothing else than to play spoiler to a division rival and kill the Charger's hopes of being the top seed in the playoffs, but I just don't think they will be good enough to make good on that. The Chargers should sweep the Raiders easily this year.
Record: 12 - 3
Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs (Away)
Chargers finally get passed the Chiefs and lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Score: 27-24
The schedule makers knew something when slating the Chargers and Chiefs in for a week 17 matchup. I believe this will be for the division, and most likely for the number one seed in the AFC. The Chargers can't get swept by the Chiefs again. They're too good for that. I think Anthony Lynn gets this team to dig deep and pull this one out.
Record: 13 - 3
So there you have it. I'm predicting a 13-3 record for the Chargers this year. If I'm wrong on that, we will know very soon in the year. There's not a lot of margin for error in that prediction.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to share your projections for the upcoming season in the comments.