The schedule is out and predictions are flying. I was all set to sit down and lay out my full schedule analysis then a question popped into my mind. “Are the Chargers better than last year?”
As I ask that I am seeing the importance of the road games in Cincinnati, Baltimore and Minnesota. Those 3 games may be the key to the Chargers off-season plans.
On offense I think this is pretty much the same team. There has been some shuffling at WR. We will draft a replacement for Ryan Matthews. Orlando Franklin improves the line, but there are still questions at Center and RG. I think overall the offense is going to be about the same as it was last year.
On defense we shuffled some players at CB and added a safety. If we add a D-lineman the defensive side gets a little better, not much, but better.
On special teams… Jacoby Jones made us a lot better.
As I was doing this scribbling the other big question that floated to the surface was, “Will these guys stay healthy?” On defense if we can get 16 games each out of Ingram, Attaochu, Verret and Flowers this unit can shine. As I look at those 4 names, I am thinking the Chargers record may very well hinge on how those 4 perform. On offense if we only need to use 2 centers and Woodhead and our drafted running back both stay healthy, I think we will be improved.
Sep 8, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; San Diego Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett (22) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Chargers 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Then a third question popped into my head, “Will this be the team that started 5-1 last year or the team that finished 4-6?” Injuries played a huge roll in last years record. PR was banged up pretty bad, we used 5 centers, and we rotated lots of guys through CB, we started an UDFA at running back. Remember cutting Richard Marshal mid-year because he sucked so bad at CB. The team wore down as the year went on. If we can keep guys on the field this year… we might be more like that team that started 5-1 last year… maybe.
So back to the schedule. When we evaluate it we have to give the Chargers some sort of rating to begin with. Are they the 9-7 team they were last year? Or is that record more reflective of injuries and lack of depth on the roster? Because of the massive amount of injuries last year and because they are slightly better this year than last year I am going to give them a game back and say that they are/were a 10-6 team.
Now lets look at the schedule 3 different ways.
Record comparisonThe Lions, Steelers, GB and Broncos all had better records last year. That translates into 5 losses. The Bengals and Ravens each had 10 wins. We will assume a split there and it looks like we can predict a 10-6 record this year.
Home vs. RoadThe home games are … Lions, Browns, Steelers, Raiders, Bears, Chiefs, Broncos, Dolphins. I see the Chargers going 6-2 at home.
The road games are … Bengals, Vikings, GB, Ravens, Jags, Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos. Can the Chargers squeeze out a 4-4 record on the road? As I ask that I am seeing the importance of the road games in Cincinnati, Baltimore and Minnesota. Those 3 games may be the key to the Chargers off-season plans.
6-2 and 4-4 leaves us at 10-6 again.
The Good, the Mediocre and the Ugly.The Good – Raiders x 2, Bears at home, Browns at home, the Jags. 5 wins
The Mediocre – Vikings on the road, Chiefs x 2, Dolphins. 2 wins, 2 loses
The Ugly – Steelers, GB, Broncos x 2, Lions, Bengals away, Ravens away. 3 wins, 4 loses
Surprise… It brings us to 10-6 again.
ConclusionThe Chargers record will be determined by how healthy they stay. This is a good roster. If they can get 16 games out of some of the key players the Chargers could be much better than 10-6.