The Chargers have their hands full in the AFC West, so it will be up to second-year QB Justin Herbert to build off a successful rookie season and get this team to the playoffs.
After a 7-9 season in 2020, the L.A. Chargers decided it was time for a head coaching change, but they didn’t need to go far for their replacement. Brandon Staley, former defensive coordinator for the Rams, has taken over head coaching duties for the Chargers. It will be Staley’s job to further develop second-year quarterback Justin Herbert and help him take the next step in his career. Can Staley and Herbert help the Chargers stay afloat in the AFC West?
Notable Draft Picks
OT Rashawn Slater, CB Asante Samuel Jr., WR Josh Palmer, TE Tre McKitty, DE/OLB Chris Rumph
QB Tyrod Taylor, TE Hunter Henry, OT Sam Tevi, G Trai Turner, G Forrest Lamp, G Dan Feeney, C Mike Pouncey, DT Isaac Rochell, OLB Melvin Ingram, LB Denzel Perryman, CB Casey Hayward, S Rayshawn Jenkins, S Jahleel Addae
Los Angeles Chargers Acquisitions and Moves
In an effort to help Herbert, L.A. made strengthening the offensive line a primary focus in the offseason. Guard Trai Turner was released, while four new faces were brought in. Free agent signee Corey Linsley is an upgrade at centre from the retired Mike Pouncey and first-round draft pick Rashawn Slater is expected to be a staple at offensive tackle for years.
The biggest loss in the offseason is probably tight end Hunter Henry, who signed in New England. Jared Cook was brought in as a short-term solution, but the 34-year-old’s best days are behind him. There’s a possibility third-round pick Tre McKitty makes an impact right away, although it looks like he needs more time to develop. Another third-round rookie, Josh Palmer, gives the Chargers a little more depth at receiver.
With Staley in charge, there will clearly be a lot of change to the defensive scheme. The biggest addition to the personnel is strong safety Derwin James, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Another new addition to the secondary is second-round pick Asante Samuel Jr. at cornerback. Samuel will likely end up being an upgrade from the released Casey Hayward.
Canadian journeyman Christian Covington was signed to bolster the depth at defensive end and should compete with Jerry Tillery for snaps.
Los Angeles Chargers 2021 NFL Schedule
The Chargers have a decent schedule that is ranked 17th in terms of difficulty, based on their opponents’ combined record in 2020. They draw favourable opponents when they play NFC East teams, but they also have to play Kansas City twice.
L.A. has a Week 7 bye and they’ll only play on the road in consecutive weeks once, in Denver for Week 12 and in Cincinnati for Week 13. Their regular season finale in Las Vegas could determine if they’re a wildcard team, or if they miss the playoffs altogether.
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 12 @ Washington Football Team, 1 p.m
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 19 vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 26 @ Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Monday, October 4 vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 8:15 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10 vs. Cleveland Browns, 4:05 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17 @ Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31 vs. New England Patriots, 4:05 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7 @ Philadelphia Eagles, 4:05 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14 vs. Minnesota Vikings, 4:05 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:20 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28 @ Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, December 5 @ Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12 vs. New York Giants, 4:05 p.m.
Week 15: Thursday, Dec. 16 vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26 @ Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2 vs. Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m.
Week 18: Sunday, Jan. 9 @ Las Vegas Raiders, 4:25 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers NFL Betting Odds
The Chargers are +100 to make the playoffs, which could be decent value if they stay healthy. Their regular season win total is set at 9.5. Even with the extra game on the schedule, 9.5 wins seems high to me, so I like the Under at -120. They’re second-favourites to win the AFC West at +496, trailing only Kansas City at -333.
Your longshot Chargers bets are for them to win the AFC conference outright (+1512) and win the Super Bowl (+2900).
Los Angeles Chargers 2021 Season Prediction
Health is going to be a determining factor for how the Chargers fare in 2021. Their offensive line was banged up all last season and it showed in their 7-9 record. The defence is bound to improve under Staley, so if Herbert doesn’t regress, this team has a good shot at a wildcard spot. I like the Chargers to finish 9-8.