It all flows with Rivers
The Chargers finished the 2017 season in their new Los Angeles locale second in the AFC West, with a 9-7 record. Head coach Anthony Lynn returns for his second year at the helm in 2018. Capturing a winning season as a new coach in a new market suggests his year two could bring even better things for the Chargers.
But what we all really need to know is that QB Philip Rivers is on the roster. Rivers is a league star and racks up stats despite a seemingly mediocre team. If you don’t follow football, this you need to know: Rivers is top notch and has made himself a solid pathway towards the Hall of Fame. The Chargers’ offense has nothing to be sad about, and the defense has something to measure up to.
A team to dream about, even with injuries
As already mentioned, Rivers continues his stellar reign as the Chargers’ quarterback. Team returns also include wide receivers Keenan Allen (KA13), who received Come Back Player of the Year for 2017 season, after recovering from a 2016 ACL injury; Tyrell Williams (and despite a foot injury this week, he is expected to be ready for regular season play); second string speedster Travis Benjamin who averaged 16.7 yards per catch in 2017; and Mike Williams, who made 11 receptions for 95 yards in his 2017 rookie year and continues to shine in preseason. RB Melvin Gordon, end zone playmaker extraordinaire also fills the roster.
On the defense, CB Casey Hayward returns and is the Chargers’ highest graded player in 2017 at 91.1. Crossing fingers his late August hamstring injury will not interfere with his performance. DE Joey Bosa, who has not practiced or played since an injury on August 7th, is expected to start Week 1. Phew. And, CB Trevor Williams’ ankle injury on July 31 should be a distant memory when Week 1 arrives.
Unfortunately, the Chargers’ roster has more serious wrinkles. The team suffers the the season-loss of TE Hunter Henry, who tore his ACL during practice at organized team activities. Also out with injuries for the season are stars TB Austin Roberts (ACL) and CB Jason Verrett (achilles). The final roster will be interesting to see.
Keep your eyes on
This may be the year for Philip Rivers.
The biggest watch on this team is where the defense builds. A solid roster before injuries this year, who ends up at key starting positions? The Chargers signed CB Channing Stribling following Verrett’s injury earlier in preseason. Assuming the rest of the injured return for Week 1, we can all breathe easier.
But, we still need to see how the defense packs a punch in stopping passes. Never fear, follow DE Darius Philon in his fourth season. He played more than ever in 2017, and made quite an impact. And, now that DE Corey Liuget will miss the first four games in 2018 (league suspension for violating banned performance-enhancing substance rules), Philon will likely start, and possibly stay in that position for the entire season.
On the offense side, the Chargers added to its roster preseason with WR Marcus Peterson, in response to Roberts’ injury. However, I say watch out for Mike Williams, who starts his second season with the NFL and Chargers. His play-making in preseason should put him on the field more than we saw in 2017.
This may be the year for Philip Rivers. The Chargers’ offense is lightning Bolt hot, hot. And if key defensive players return from minor preseason injuries, we should anticipate the Chargers in the playoffs.
Below is the Chargers’ schedule for 2018:
Week 1: Sept. 9 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Whether regular season or post-season, the Chiefs have handled the Chargers well for the last three match ups. Nothing new this game.
Week 2: Sept. 16 at Buffalo Bills*
Charging forward: the Bills suffered a miserable loss at last season’s head-to-head. It may not hurt as much this game, but it is still their loss.
Week 3: Sept. 23 at Los Angeles Rams*
The first regular season face off as co-residents of LA. Ranking slightly tougher, and taking a stand in Los Angeles, the Chargers take it.
Week 4: Sept. 30 vs. San Francisco 49ers*
The 49ers took wins in the last three games spanning from 2015 through preseason 2017. I am not influenced, especially with LA fans to make some noise.
Week 5: Oct. 7 vs. Oakland Raiders*
The Chargers took both 2017 season games, with a bruising 20-point cushion on December 31, 2017. Ouch.
Week 6: Oct. 14 at Cleveland Browns*
These teams swap wins in a three-game history, with the Chargers taking the last win. I don’t buy the pattern this year.
Week 7: Oct. 21 vs. Tennessee Titans*
Even if I were to feel generous, I can’t be. Preseason doesn’t look good for the Titans….
Week 8: Bye Week
Week 9: Nov. 4 at Seattle Seahawks*
In game two of the preseason, the Chargers took the Seahawks by a 10-point win. This preseason pain I believe in.
Week 10: Nov. 11 at Oakland Raiders*
The Chargers sweep this season, just like in 2017.
Week 11: Nov. 18 vs. Denver Broncos
These teams split wins last season. But since QB Case Keenum joined the Broncos this year, I don’t believe past performance indications say much. The Broncos’ offense might just catch up to its defense.
Week 12: Nov. 25 vs. Arizona Cardinals*
I don’t see the Cardinals’ preseason win as anything suggestive for the rest of the season. The Chargers’ defense has a slight edge on the Cardinals’ offense, and it makes a difference.
Week 13: Dec. 2 at Pittsburgh Steelers
I hate to say it, you know, because I still believe in the Chargers’ San Diego roots.
Week 14: Dec. 9 vs. Cincinnati Bengels*
These teams haven’t seen each other since 2015. Not that it matters; the Chargers will outplay the Bengals.
Week 15: Dec. 13 at Kansas City Chiefs
The only thing different from Week 1 is home field advantage.
Week 16: Dec. 23 vs. Baltimore Ravens*
Once again, we need to go all the way to 2015 to see this pairing. So, let’s skip it and look at stats. The Ravens’ defense just won’t stop Rivers.
Week 17: Dec. 30 at Denver Broncos
Home field advantage.
TOTAL PREDICTED WINS: 11