The San Diego Chargers are coming off a 9-7 campaign in 2014, as they continued their mediocre run. The Chargers have won between 7 and 9 games each of the last 5 years, making the playoffs just once during that stretch. They had a chance to get to the postseason last year, but a 7-19 loss at Kansas City in Week 17, who was starting a backup quarterback, put those hopes to rest.

The Chargers will be entering year 3 under head coach Mike McCoy and with the uncertainty surrounding the team moving to LA and whether or not Philip Rivers will re-sign in 2016, there’s added pressure to win now. While San Diego didn’t make any blockbuster trades or free agent signings, they believe they have done enough to be contender in the AFC West.

Last Season
AFC West
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
T-2nd
9-7
7-9
3-5
4-4
7-9
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
18th
9th
-5
21.8
21.8
2015 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Melvin Gordon (RB), Denzel Perryman (ILB), Craig Mager (CB), Kyle Emmanuel (OLB), Darius Philon (DT)
Additions
Orlando Franklin (OG), Steve Johnson (WR), Patrick Robinson (CB), Jimmy Wilson (SS), Jacoby Jones (WR), Mitch Unrein (DT)
Losses
Ryan Mathews (RB), Dwight Freeney (OLB), Marcus Gilchrist (SS), Andrew Gachkar (ILB), Shareece Wright (CB), Reggie Walker (OLB), Eddie Royal (WR), Ronnie Brown (RB), Doug Legursky (C), Seyi Ajirotutu (WR)
2015 Schedule & Odds
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 Lions -1.5 0.53
2 @ Bengals +3 0.41
3 @ Vikings PK 0.50
4 Browns -6 0.71
5 Steelers -1 0.51
6 @ Packers +5.5 0.31
7 Raiders -8 0.79
8 @ Ravens +3.5 0.36
9 Bears -4 0.66
10 BYE
11 Chiefs -2.5 0.55
12 @ Jaguars -4.5 0.67
13 Broncos PK 0.50
14 @ Chiefs +2 0.47
15 Dolphins -3 0.59
16 @ Raiders -3.5 0.64
17 @ Broncos +4.5 0.33
Estimated Wins: 8.53
Roster Breakdown

The San Diego offense finished in the bottom half of the league in both total offense (341.6 ypg, 18th) and scoring offense (21.8 ppg, 17th) this past season. Almost all of their offense came from the passing game (256.1 ypg, 10th), as they were a mere 30th in the league in rushing (85.4 ypg).

Rivers wasn’t as effective as he was in 2013, but still put up solid numbers, throwing for 4,286 yards with 31 touchdowns to 18 interceptions. Knowing that the 33-year-old likely can’t do it all on his own anymore, the Chargers both improved the offensive line and added in what they believe will be a dynamic running back for years to come in 1st round pick Melvin Gordon out of Wisconsin.

The two big moves up front on the offensive line came with the addition of left guard Orlando Franklin, who is a major upgrade alongside left tackle King Dunlap. They also brought in right tackle Joe Barksdale, which gives them the option of moving 2014 starting right tackle D.J. Fluker inside to right guard. The only real question mark is at center, where 2nd-year Chris Watt must play well.

If Gordon is able to impact the NFL game the same way he did the college game, San Diego’s offense could really take a step forward. I believe Gordon is a very similar type player to Jamaal Charles. He has the speed to take it the distance at any time, the strength to run between the tackles and is a big time threat in the passing game. Gordon will team up with Brandon Oliver and Danny Woodhead to form a capable trio of backs.

The key for Chargers offense will be getting wide out Keenan Allen back on track. After needing just 71 catches to rack up 1,046 yards and 8 scores in his rookie season, Allen managed just 783 yards on 77 receptions and only caught 4 touchdowns. Allen will remain a primary target alongside veteran tight end Antonio Gates, but the Chargers are going to need Malcolm Floyd or newcomer Jacoby Jones to step up and fill the void left by Eddie Royal (62 catches, 778 yards, 7 TDs).

While San Diego appears to have upgraded their offense for the 2015 campaign, they didn’t do a whole lot to improve their defense. Even though the defense finished a respectable 9th in total defense (338.3 ypg) and T-13th in scoring defense (21.8 ppg), they only had 7 interceptions (T-28th) and a mere 26 sacks (29th).

The biggest thing they have to get better at is getting after the quarterback. It’s not a good sign when 3-4 defensive end Corey Liuget leads the team with a mere 4.5 sacks. Part of the problem is that Luiget is the only reliable player up front on the defensive line. Fellow defensive end Kendall Reyes was a disappointment in 2014 and I believe the Chargers made a big mistake by not finding an upgrade for starting nose tackle Sean Lissemore.

The 2 guys that San Diego will be relying on to get pressure, will be outside linebackers Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu. Ingram has the potential to be a special player, but struggles to stay on the field because of injuries. Attaochu showed some promise in his rookie season, but is still an unproven commodity. At the two inside linebacker spots, the Chargers will start both Donald Butler and Manti’ Te’o, but keep an eye on 2nd round pick Denzel Perryman playing a big role as rookie.

One of the impressive things given the lack of a pass rush and interceptions, is the Chargers ranked 4th in the league against the pass, surrendering just 124.1 ypg. The unit returns their two stars in safety Eric Weddle and corner Brandon Flowers, as well as promising 2nd-year corner Jason Verrett. They added in veteran Patrick Robinson to serve as the No. 3 corner, while also bringing in safety Jimmy Wilson to compete with Jahleel Addae for the starting safety spot opposite of Weddle.

Future Odds
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl L
8
35 to 2
36 to 1
Odds Courtesty of 5Dimes
Projections

Anytime you have a franchise quarterback like Rivers running the offense, you have a chance at making the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Chargers, I’m not convinced they have done enough to be a serious threat to the Chiefs and Denver Broncos in the AFC West. Rivers simply isn’t the same player he once was and I think Gordon is going to struggle to put up the type of numbers people are expecting in his rookie season. At the same time, the defense is average at best and will continue to struggle to put pressure on the quarterback.

Instead of a big step forward, I’m predicting more of the same for San Diego. The Chargers will upset a couple of top teams and lose a few they shouldn’t to the bottom feeders. When it’s all said and done, I have them going 8-8 and finishing 3rd in the AFC West. With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they failed to reach that mark and were right there with the Oakland Raiders at the bottom of the division.

AFC West Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
3rd
3-3
8-8
PUSH 8
Chargers 10-Year Recap
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 9 7 McCoy 8
2013 9 7 Lost Div McCoy 7.5
2012 7 9 Turner 9
2011 8 8 Turner 11
2010 9 7 Turner 10.5
2009 13 3 Lost Div Turner 10
2008 8 8 Lost Div Turner 10.5
2007 11 5 Lost Conf Turner 10.5
2006 14 2 Lost Div Schottenheimer 9
2005 9 7 Schottenheimer 8

Nick Lee

Nick Lee
BoltBeat.com

OVER 8 Wins – The Chargers have rejuvenated their offense with Jacoby Jones, Orlando Franklin on the line and their shiny new toy from the draft, Melvin Gordon. If Gordon can give the Chargers a full 16 games, the Chargers will be above .500.

Ross Warner

Ross Werner
JusticeIsComing.com

OVER 8 Wins – The addition of Melvin Gordon, a healthy secondary and any improvement on the lines will push the Bolts over eight wins.

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