NFL Team Bold Predictions

Five Bold Predictions for the Los Angeles Chargers

Sam Schneider  | May 16th, 2020

After a 2019 season that saw the Los Angeles Chargers finish 5-11 and in the basement of the AFC West, they hit the ground running in free agency. The Chargers don’t have to look far into the rear-view mirror to see a 2018 season where they went 12-4 under Anthony Lynn and made the playoffs. In 2020 they open the brand new SoFi Stadium in Southern California (a joint venture with the LA Rams) and are ready to christen their new digs with a winning season. What does 2020 hold for the Bolts? Here are some (very) bold takes for this season’s Chargers. Let’s get crazy! Make sure to check out our other bold predictions here.

The Defense will finish in the top five of the NFL

As disastrous as fans thought the defense was in 2019, it was the lack of turnover potential which was close to the bottom of the barrel. The offense giving defenses a short field that was their ultimate undoing. In fact, they finished sixth in yards per game allowed overall and close to the middle of the NFL in points per game surrendered at 14th, neither of which are anything to sneeze at. The additions of Chris Harris Jr. (he of the no-fly zone in Denver) to the secondary, Linval Joseph in the middle of the line, and incoming rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. are the finishing pieces that move the defense to the next level.

Austin Ekeler will lead the AFC in yards from scrimmage

Ekeler only totaled 557 yards rushing behind a makeshift line (still with over four yards per carry) and gave way to Melvin Gordon after week four. Once Gordon returned from holdout, Ekeler only received an average of just over six carries per game. That said, he collected a whopping 92 catches on 108 targets totaling 993 yards. One could make the argument that the presence of Gordon is what made Ekeler so effective in the passing game, but I would counter that having Tyrod Taylor under center rather than the gun-slinging Philip Rivers aids in his value. The presence of Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley are of little concern as Ekeler is the trusted back in this offense.

Hunter Henry challenges the tight end touchdown record

This, of course, has a giant qualifier: Henry must stay on the field and start all 16 games. The last time he came close to playing a full season was in 2016. This is when he hauled in eight touchdowns in 15 games while only starting ten of those contests. That same season, Antonio Gates had seven touchdowns. The tight end record for touchdown receptions in a season is 17 (set by Rob Gronkowski) and with Henry’s talent along with a quarterback that values the short pass as opposed to taking downfield chances, he should be sniffing 15 trips to paydirt by the end of the year, if not more.

Anthony Lynn is the Coach of the Year

Hear me out on this one. It is a short offseason and Lynn does not have to depend on many newly drafted players for success. This is a veteran team.  In addition to a potential shutdown defense, they are rolling with a veteran quarterback who is not prone to turning the ball over. Add to that a stable of running backs playing for a coach that has proven a running game guru in the past for the likes of the Jets and Bills. The Chargers finished second twice in the division before last year’s mess, which I believe was an aberration. Lynn is armed with a predominantly veteran squad going into the season. He could receive accolades in a year that is likely to see the usual suspects at head coach make the playoffs, which leads us to…

The Chargers make the playoffs in 2020

No, they are not going to win the division. Regression from Denver is likely after last season and the Raiders will be a non-factor. As I went through the wins and losses in our early picks here, I tabbed Los Angeles for a 9-7 record in a season which sees the playoffs expand to include an extra team from both conferences and that should be good enough to get them in as the six or seven seed. Coming off a poor 2019 that’s an impressive feat. As we all know once the postseason starts all bets are off.

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