The Chargers were an extremely underwhelming team last season. After loading up on the defensive side of the ball the last few seasons with big names like Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson, as well as extending key offensive players like Austin Ekeler and only paying Herbert rookie money, the Chargers were prepared for a deep playoff run. Nobody could have predicted the total meltdown from LA in the wildcard round of the playoffs that culminated in a 27-point comeback from the Jacksonville Jaguars. This put a lot into perspective for the team and with defensive pieces only getting older and offensive weapons getting more discontent, it is now or never for the Chargers.
Home: Dolphins: Week 1
Miami is coming off a solid season where they made the most of their season despite the number of concussions suffered by Tua Tagovailoa. Although I think Miami are serious contenders, I think this will be a solid win for the Chargers. This is certainly a tossup though and it is not impossible for this to be a playoff matchup down the road.
Away: Titans: Week 2
With the Titans lack of weapons outside the generational running back that is Derrick Henry and a young receiver in Treylon Burks that I believe suffers from a lack of good quarterback play, I don’t see the Titans scoring a lot of points against this Chargers defense. Not to mention, the Titans defense allowed the most passing yards in the league last season. With Justin Herbert gearing up for a career season, this could be a game where we see Herbert go for 350-400 yards and a couple of touchdowns as well.
Away: Vikings: Week 3
Two teams that should be playing playoff football come January, two teams with disappointing endings last year, and two teams who will need every win they can get for playoff seeding purposes. We saw these two teams square off in the 2021-2022 NFL Regular Season and while Herbert didn’t play terribly, he was outperformed by Kirk Cousins. I think that this is one we see Minnesota win and Justin Jefferson have a dominant performance in. It would take a J.C. Jackson masterclass to stop Justin Jefferson, which isn’t impossible by any means, but I see Jefferson having a day against the Chargers.
Home: Raiders: Week 4
The Raiders are an interesting team to look at. They’ve splashed a bit of money in free agency, just to end up being early contenders in the race for Caleb Williams. With the dysfunction and lack of trust I and many have in the Raiders coaching staff, the Chargers should pull this out.
Home: Cowboys: Week 6 MNF
After going 4-4 on the road in 2022, I am not sold on the Cowboys ability to perform away from AT&T stadium. While home advantage isn’t the end all be all of wins and losses in this league, it adds onto this notion of Prescott’s inability to get it done against better teams and better quarterbacks. Although the Cowboys may be the toughest at-home opponent not in the AFC West, it is a game I see the Bolts pulling out.
Away: Chiefs: Week 7
After losing to the Chiefs twice last year by three points each time, Los Angeles will be desperate to finally get a victory against Patrick Mahomes and company. However, this will not be the game. With a staggering 31-7 home record in Arrowhead, I think the Chargers will have a tough time stealing one.
Home: Bears: Week 8 SNF
As hopeful as Bears fans are and maybe should be for this season, they are not at the Chargers level just yet. Tack home field advantage onto this, and this should be a game that the Chargers close out convincingly.
Away: Jets: Week 9 MNF
With all the question marks surrounding the New York Jets, this is a team that is hard to predict going into next season. They are a very boom or bust team that were labeled as a “quarterback away” last year, which they went out and acquired with Aaron Rodgers. I do think that despite Herbert being 2-0 against the state of New York in his career, he will lose his first appearance in the Big Apple. I am a big believer that the Jets will be a competitive playoff team, and I think that this will be a big game for the Jets, not the Chargers.
Home: Lions: Week 10
Although this game like the Chicago one isn’t a blowout win for the Chargers, I think that this is a game that should be a win in the Chargers column. The Lions don’t have much on the Chargers talent wise as Los Angeles could have the Lions beat in every department as a whole offensively and defensively aside from maybe the offensive line. These are two teams at different points in terms of championship contention and I think that the Chargers should cover here. The Lions defense, although improved slightly from last year, should be one that Herbert and his weapons should tear through.
Away: Packers: Week 11
A team with equally as many questions as the one their quarterback left them for, the Packers season will determine the direction their franchise is heading in for the years to come. Questions about Jordan Love will be answered, and I would hope for Chargers fans that this is a game they will come out on top of. A team with Super Bowl aspirations shouldn’t have to worry about a team in the state that the Green Bay Packers are in, but hey, any given Sunday. Despite this old adage, I give this one to the Chargers.
Home: Ravens: Week 12 SNF
With Lamar Jackson’s new contract, the Ravens seem to have indicated that they are in “win-now” mode, as they should be. With the addition of OBJ, they have a revised receiving corps that I think could go toe-to-toe with Los Angeles. With a rough defense as well that specializes in getting to the quarterback and making Justin Herbert’s life hell, I think this is one we see the Chargers drop. It’s hard to assume a team will be perfect at home outside of their division and I trust Jackson to pull through in a high-profile game like this.
Away: Patriots: Week 13
The Patriots aren’t by any standards a playoff game and despite the game being in Foxborough, this should be an easy one for the Chargers. Barring extreme conditions, this is a game I expect the Chargers to handle. The Patriots ended up in the middle of the pack last season in most statistics and were one of the streakiest teams in the league. Not that the Chargers are extremely consistent themselves, but on paper, they out-talent New England.
Home: Broncos: Week 14
Last year was one of the most disappointing seasons in Bronco’s history. With the acquisition of Russell Wilson, hopes were high and there were dreams of removing the Chiefs from their AFC West throne. With these not being reality, the Chargers are still number two in this division. With much more consistent quarterback play, the Chargers will handle business at home.
Away: Raiders: Week 15 TNF
Despite home field advantage in the soon to be Super Bowl-hosting stadium that is Allegiant Stadium, the Chargers get the series sweep against the Raiders. I simply don’t see Jimmy Garoppolo out-dueling Justin Herbert with the squad around him this season.
Home: Bills: Week 16 SNF
Unfamiliar territory as Josh Allen and Justin Herbert have only squared off once in their career in a game that Allen won pretty handedly. Although I don’t think that has as much bearing on the outcome, I do see this game as a win for Buffalo. They are a much more proven roster and I see a lot of hunger in their squad. Both teams fell flat in the playoffs despite equal aspirations, but I am taking Josh Allen in this intriguing quarterback matchup.
Away: Denver: Week 17
Despite the concerns with Denver, I think the Chargers drop this game. Last season, in Denver, Los Angeles dropped the ball in the midst of a playoff push. I think the same will happen this season as the Broncos chemistry will be improved.
Home: Chiefs: Week 18
The biggest win of the season for Los Angeles will be their win this week. Defeating Patrick Mahomes in SoFi the last game of the year will be important for their momentum and playoff seeding. This game will change the perspective of the Chargers going into the playoffs and it could be what derails the Chiefs momentum as well. This will wrap up a season that improved upon the last one slightly but will ultimately depend on if they get hot in the postseason.
Final Record: 11-6
Although playing the AFC West almost guarantees that you are outside of the top four seeds, I think this is a solid overall record for the Chargers. Most if not all six losses I imagine being close and competitive games. As long as the Chargers maintain a playoff position, they are a threat to be AFC Champions.