By, Faux John Madden (Special to OddsUSA.com)
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers are set to embark on a new era for the franchise.
The team will be playing inside a brand-new stadium, with a killer new logo and new uniform, and a brand-new starting quarterback after bidding farewell to Philip Rivers and his small village of children after 15 seasons with the team.
After once again failing to live-up to big time expectations in 2019 in ways only the Chargers can, a roster loaded with talent looks to rebound in a division that includes the Super Bowl champions, while developing a polarizing rookie quarterback for the future.
That probably explains why HBO selected them for Hard Knocks.
Chargers 2019 Season Review
So, this may sound familiar…
The Chargers entered the 2019 season with Super Bowl dreams fresh off a 2018 season that saw them go toe to toe with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West, finish 12-4 and beat Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in the Wild Card Round before running into the Tom Brady buzzsaw.
Naturally, the Chargers can’t have nice things, and they’re reminded by this every single time they get excited and think that things will change. 2019 was no different for the Super Chargers.
First, Melvin Gordon decided he wanted to hold out. Then the injury bug ravaged the Chargers, causing the likes of superstar safety Derwin James and several other notable players to miss significant time.
And then, Philip Rivers happened.
After having one of the best seasons of his career in 2018, Rivers threw 20 interceptions in 2019 with 8 fumbles. His turnovers would prove to be doubly painful considering that nine of the Chargers 11 losses on the season were by seven points or less.
The Chargers would flirt with victory only to blow the game late so often you’d think it was a science. But their fans would tell you that it’s not science, it’s just what the Chargers do.
Still, as far as 5-11 teams go, the Chargers have a ton of talent. They’re not your typical five-win football team, but they are the Chargers, and sometimes that just seems to outweigh anything talent can provide you.
Thrilled to Be Stuck in L.A. Traffic for 3 Hours to Play in Front of No Fans
G Trai Turner (Panthers/Trade)
RT Bryan Bulaga (Packers)
CB Chris Harris Jr. (Broncos)
DT Linval Joseph (Vikings)
LB Nick Vigil (Bengals)
WR Darius Jennings (Titans)
The Chargers Made This Guy the Highest-Paid Tight End in Football for One Moment in Time
TE Hunter Henry (Signed Franchise Tender)
Skipped Town Quicker Than a Member of the Spanos Family
QB Philip Rivers (Colts)
RB Melvin Gordon (Broncos)
S Adrian Phillips (Patriots)
G Michael Schofield (Panthers)
FB Derek Watt (Steelers)
S Jaylen Watkins (Texans)
TE Lance Kendricks (Free Agent)
DT Sylvester Williams (Free Agent)
Chargers 2020 Offensive Preview
On paper, the Chargers appear to have playoff caliber potential all over the offense. In fact, the lone position they have a major question mark at is at quarterback.
Leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft, speculation swirled around the team’s interest in free-agent quarterback Tom Brady. If the Chargers were indeed interested and tried to sign Brady, they of course lost out to Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Speculation then swirled around whether or not the Chargers would sign former Panther Cam Newton, or if they’d trade up in the draft for Tua Tagovailoa.
San Di.. er .. Los Angeles did none of those things and instead stood pat where they would draft former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.
There are many skeptics of how Justin Herbert will perform in the NFL, with some critics comparing him to the likes of Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker amongst other infamous draft busts, while there are others that believe Gabbert’s potential has yet to be unlocked and that he can become the next Carson Wentz.
Wherever he falls, the future of the Chargers now rests on his shoulders, and if new starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor is unable to lead the Chargers to victories, the calls to insert the young rookie into the lineup will only grow louder.
Whoever is under center for the Chargers in 2020 will have several weapons to help them out, and a revamped offensive line that received a lot of attention in the offseason.
The Bolts kept the electric Austin Ekeler with a long extension and retained tight end Hunter Henry with the franchise tag. Henry enters the 2020 season as the highest-paid tight end in football and is going to be one of the reasons that George Kittle sleeps well at night after he gets his ginormous extension later this year.
The former residents of San Diego also feature the vastly underrated wide-receiver Keenan Allen and big target Mike Williams. The team does seem to have depth issues at WR though, with a lot of unproven guys behind the two at the top.
The Chargers also traded tackle Russell Okung to Carolina in exchange for Trai Turner and then signed former Packer Bryan Bulaga to a three-year deal in free-agency. This paired with getting Mike Pouncey back after an injury-shortened 2019 season has Anthony Lynn hopeful that the offensive line will be improved. However, there are still big question marks on the left side of the offensive line, with the left tackle position still to be determined in camp.
Chargers 2020 Defensive Preview
If the Chargers are to get back into the playoff mix in 2020, the Chargers defense will play a huge role in getting there.
The Chargers secondary is crowded with talent, highlighted by Derwin James, Casey Hayward, and free-agent signing Chris Harris Jr., who joins the Chargers after several seasons playing for the rival Broncos.
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram return to form one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the league, and the team added former Vikings interior defensive lineman Linval Joseph to anchor their defensive line. 2019 28th overall pick Jerry Tillery looks to also give the team a boost entering his second season with the team.
After trading back into the first round of the NFL Draft, Los Angeles would also solidify their linebacking corps with the selection of Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray. The Chargers hope that Denzel Perryman returns to the form he played at a few seasons ago, as he has been a very up and down player for the Los Angeles defense. Murray’s addition should only help that along.
On paper, this defense has about everything you can ask for, but this is a running theme for this Chargers team.
Chargers 2020 Outlook & Prediction
Year in and year out, the Chargers are the most maddening team in football. A season ago, the team could have just as easily finished 11-5 as they did 5-11, and that seems to summarize the Chargers for as far as I can remember.
That said, this iteration seems to be more “fools gold” than your usual Charger teams, as we have major concerns about who plays quarterback and who protects said quarterback.
Tyrod Taylor is a steady veteran backup, but his last stint as a starter in Cleveland left a lot to be desired, and Los Angeles with its gaping holes on the left side of the offensive line and consistently inconsistent nature has us thinking this team will play around .500 all season, but never really seriously threaten for a playoff spot. In this division, however, that puts you in last place.
Chargers Projected 2020 Finish: 7-9, 4th AFC West
Chargers 2020 Betting Preview
This is one of the teams in the NFL we are horrified to bet any of our hard-earned money on, as they share a penthouse with the Atlanta Falcons for teams that make you scream horrifying words at your television. As the 2020 season draws near, we tepidly like the following futures odds involving the Los Angeles Chargers:
- Los Angeles Chargers UNDER 7.5 Wins — (+118) at DraftKings Sportsbook
Because they’re the Chargers, we would suggest not going crazy with this, but our projections have the Chargers right at seven wins, and this just feels like a 7-8 win team in the making. We are going with the plus-money here and will hope that the Chargers don’t stumble their way into their trademark meaningless Week 17 win to finish 8-8.
- Justin Herbert to Win Offensive Rookie of the Year — (+2000) at FanDuel Sportsbook
There are only three quarterbacks in the NFL that will likely see action as a rookie. We don’t foresee Herbert winning this, but he’s a quarterback and if the Tyrod Taylor experiment goes sideways quickly, there’s enough talent on the Chargers roster where anything would be possible.