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The Chargers: New Year, Same Story

Every NFL offseason, media pundits pick the Chargers to take a big leap and every offseason fans are disappointed. This is nothing new.

The Cycle

Every year, the Chargers go through a distinct pattern. It all starts with an overrated offseason. They bring in new talent, maybe re-sign some big names, and it seems they have improved the roster. Immediately after that, the media jumps all over them with praise. They automatically become the AFC West favorite despite what the other three teams in the division have done or are doing in the same offseason.

After they start the season well, a couple of things will happen. They will either suffer an epic collapse towards the end of the season and miss the playoffs or, they will narrowly miss out on winning the division and failed to make it passed the Divisional Round.

It doesn’t matter if it is Phillip Rivers or Justin Herbert at QB or if it is Brandon Staley or Norv Turner coaching, the Chargers have been fated to repeat this cycle year in and year out. This year will not end up any different. I am here to temper expectations for you all. Here is how things are going to play out.

Chargers Are AFC West Favorites?

I won’t lie, the Chargers made some impressive moves this offseason. Their biggest weakness last season was obviously the defense. Even with Brandon Staley being a defensive-minded coach, they could not get it done on that side of the ball. Staley had some talent on the defense last year in a healthy Derwin James, a relatively healthy Joey Bosa, Chris Harris Jr., and the emergence of Asante Samuel Jr. All of that said, there is no way I would put them atop the AFC West.

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With the acquisitions of Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson, Kyle Van Noy, and Bryce Callahan, the Chargers have no doubt added depth and improved their starters. The problem? Well, there are a few. First, all of these players have a question mark next to their name. Whether it be injury questions or scheme questions, they are there from player player. No roster is perfect, but when you have three defenseive starters (Mack, James, and Bosa) who have had recent injury concerns, it can make anyone question whether this will work out for the Bolts.

Finally, it seems like folks are not accounting for the other teams in the AFC West. The Chiefs still feature the best QB-Head Coach duo in the division – maybe the league – and still have a HOF tight end on the offense. The Raiders reunited college teammates, Davante Adams & Derek Carr while establishing a tandem of dominant edge rushers in Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby. Then you have the Broncos who already had a talented defense and capped it off by adding Russell Wilson to run their offense.

You have to realize, the Chiefs have taken the division in each of the last six season, the Broncos have had a top defense for quite some time, and the Raiders took second in the division and a wild card spot from the Chargers last season. I just don’t see how we can crown them as favorites, but it happens every year.

The Chargers Are A Top Five Team?

So not only are the Chargers essentially given the division crown, they are praised as Super Bowl contenders in a stacked AFC. This year does feel a bit different for them, but I am still quite skeptical on how they will perform.

I have a hard time elevating them over the Bengals, last year’s AFC Champion, and the Ravens who were ravaged by injuries in 2021. You also have the Titans, who have been one of the more successful teams of the last three seasons, and the Raiders who beat them out of a spot last year for the playoffs.

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Here’s the deal, we see the praise every year, but the Chargers are playing in the toughest division in football. They may start off hot, go on a run, and string together some wins, but we all know what follows.

They Blow It

Yes, the Chargers have great starts each year before they ultimately blow it. In recent years, it has been a neck and neck race with the Chiefs the first 6-8 games of the seaosn before KC ultimatley pulls away. Maybe they sneak a questionable win over them, but in 18 games since Reid took over, the Chiefs are 13-5 against their division mates. Including a loss in week 17 when the Chiefs were 14-1 and benched the starters.

We have saw some epic collapses in the Anthony Lynn days, big time losses with Rivers at QB, and you cannot fail to mention, no playoff appearances from Justin Herbert in his two years as a starter. The talented QB has been a stat machine, but he has zero playoff appearances under his belt. Meanwhile, Joe Burrow has already made a Super Bowl Appearance.

The Chargers also have a tough schedule that is primed for a late-season collapse. In the first nine weeks, they face Kansas City, Las Vegas, and Denver (teams with 8.5 projected wins or higher, according to Vegas), while also playing five teams that didn’t even sniff the playoffs in 2021. They could realistically go 6-2 or better in that stretch before the real test begins.

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To end the season, LA will play Kansas City, Denver, Las Vegas, LA Rams (technically a home game, but we know whose house that really is), Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, and Indy. All teams with a 9.5 or higher win projection. If the schedules is foreshadowing anything, it is the late-season collapse of the LA Chargers. If anything happens as frequently as the Chargers being pre-season favorites, it is their late-season failures. Until they break the cycle, you cannot convince me otherwise.

Dan Portillo

Check out some of Dan’s other Stadium Rant content here. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_tf40 and check in with his podcast The Fastest 40 on SpotifyAnchorApple Podcasts, & anywhere you listen to podcasts!

Written By

Daniel, a Missouri State University graduate, is all about Kansas City. As an avid Chiefs and Royals fan, you will catch him at Arrowhead and Kauffman multiple times a year. When he is not at the stadiums, he is watching the games at home with his wife, Megan, and their dogs, Chief and Lamar.

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