2015 San Diego Predictions
Last year’s Chargers team finished at 9-7 and were an incredibly tricky team to bet on throughout the course of last year. At one point this team was 5-1, with a marquee win over the Seattle Seahawks and looked like they would give Denver a real run for the AFC West Division title.
San Diego Chargers
2014 record: 9-7
Chargers Odds to win 2015 AFC Conference: 22/1
Chargers Odds to win 2015 Super Bowl: 45/1
Then came the week 8 tilt with the aforementioned Broncos where the Chargers were dumped 35-21, the week after a gut wrenching 23-20 loss to another division opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Those two losses sent the team reeling and they went on to get destroyed 37-0 by the Dolphins in Week 9. Where the Chargers really fell short last year was their inability to beat the teams they were in direct competition with (Denver and KC), stacking up an 0-4 record against the two. Even one win against those two teams would’ve pushed this team to 10-6 and gave them a playoff berth thanks to owning the tie-breaker over the Ravens.
So where have the Chargers improved this year and how do they manage to get back to the post season?
For starters they went out and addressed what was arguably their biggest deficiency by drafting running back Melvin Gordon in the first round. Gordon gives the team a legitimate number one running back, where last year the team was cycling through the likes of Donald Brown, Brendan Oliver, and Ronnie Brown at times.
Phillip Rivers may be maligned by some for his ability to throw fantastic interceptions at the worst times, but the veteran QB can still run this offense and he looked especially good off play action last year which he wasn’t able to run all that often due to the inability to establish a run game in the first place.
With Gordon lining up behind him, Rivers has a real running threat and this will open up a lot more play action passes and Rivers is not short on weapons either. Keenan Allen figures to be the number one guy again this year, and though the Chargers are without Antonio Gates for the first four games due to suspension, there are other options available.
Tight End Ladarius Green will make a decent replacement in Gates’ absence, but it’s the addition of players like Stevie Johnson who will drop in at the slot to replace Eddie Royal. Veterans Malcolm Floyd and Jacoby Jones are also in that group and stay with what has been the Chargers’ build at wideout with just enormous receivers (Floyd is 6’5, 225 lbs, Jones is 6’2, 215 lbs) In fact the Chargers don’t have a wideout that is a projected starter who is under 6’2, 200 lbs.
Big targets means Rivers doesn’t necessarily have to be that accurate, he just needs to put the ball where his big guys can go and get it.
The defense on this team is average at best really. Eric Weddle will make plays and rack up tackles from the secondary as he always does. Manti Te’o is on the team, so make whatever you want of that.
ILB Denzel Perryman was a second round pick this year and looks like he can challenge for a starter’s role, but there will be an adjustment period as he settles into a 3-4 scheme.
Chargers Betting Outlook:
At 22/1 to win the AFC that’s right in that dark horse range where they look like a juicy pick. $10 will get you $220, not a bad little take, but it all hinges on offense in the AFC at this point and I think this team has an offense that can swing with the big boys like Denver, New England and Indianapolis.
Melvin Gordon provides a legitimate running attack and he looks like an early candidate for offensive rookie of the year. If Rivers takes care of the ball this team will score points in bunches.
It’s especially worth noting that this team doesn’t strike quickly but rather wears you down with long possessions as Rivers just sits under centre watching the play clock bleed away and essentially frustrates teams into making mistakes. What’s the best way to play defense? Keep your offense on the field. The Chargers do a nice job of lulling teams to sleep and keeping opposition offenses out of rhythm by just keeping them off the field.
San Diego 2015 Prediction
This schedule is tough for the Chargers with road games against the Packers, Bengals and Ravens. The final third or so of the season is no picnic either as they’ll play both Denver and Kansas City twice.
The Chargers need to position themselves early and make sure they’re firing on all cylinders before they clash with the Broncos and Chiefs because those are going to be the games that determine whether or not this team is destined for the post season.
I can see them coming into their week 11 matchup with the Chiefs at 6-3 and that game will have big implications as Denver will likely be on top of the division at that point, but it may play into San Diego’s favour having Denver twice late in the season, as the Broncos faded down the stretch last year a bit with Peyton Manning nursing a calf injury.
9-7 seems very attainable, but 10 wins is going to be needed to reach the post season in the AFC this year. It can be done but as with most teams, most years, the Chargers need to get a split against their division at worst. 2-4 against the West just won’t do it.
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