Well, folks, here we are. Training camp has arrived, and we’ve made it to our final bold predictions for the 2016 Chargers!
Bold Prediction No. 1: Chargers will win first division title since 2009; No. 2: Joey Bosa will sign within the next 24 hours
It’s not that far-fetched of an idea for the San Diego Chargers to win the AFC West title.
The way I see it, everybody has a chance. The Denver Broncos may have lost some key pieces on defense, and their quarterback situation is almost as screwed up as the Kardashian family, but they are still the defending Super Bowl champions. The Kansas City Chiefs, who have made the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, have one of the better defenses in football (drafting defensive lineman Chris Jones could make it even better), but their offense is still a question mark as is safety Eric Berry, who has yet to report to camp. The Oakland Raiders are no joke. They have a good quarterback in Derek Carr, a stud receiver in Amari Cooper and a potentially dangerous defense led by Khalil Mack. They are a team on the rise, but that still doesn’t take away the fact that they haven’t finished above .500 since the 2002 season.
As for the Chargers, they made significant improvements in the offseason. On offense, the additions of wide receiver Travis Benjamin and tight end Hunter Henry, along with a healthy Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson and Antonio Gates, make this a potential top-five air attack (NFL.com’s Matt Harmon’s words, not mine). The offensive line may be comparable to last year’s starting lineup, but versatile veteran Matt Slauson, who will start at center but can move to guard if needed, and center Max Tuerk will be the key to improving the line–former center Nick Hardwick is proof that a good center can do wonders for the team. Hopefully, this line will gel quick enough and create holes for 2015 first-round pick Melvin Gordon, who needs to have a great season. The re-hiring of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt should help turn things around.
On defense, the Chargers upgraded what was a porous defensive line with the additions of defensive end Joey Bosa and nose tackle Brandon Mebane. The linebacker corps and cornerback corps are fighting to see who is the most talented group on the field. Melvin Ingram is the head honcho of a strong–and deep–linebacker group, while Pro Bowler Jason Verrett leads his own group of solid corners. Safety is the only position on defense that’s a question mark.
It all sounds good on paper, but the Chargers have yet to prove they can stay healthy. Not only that, but they haven’t been able to run the ball successfully, stop the run on defense or create enough turnovers. They have a great quarterback in Philip Rivers, the best player at his position in the division, but if they don’t fix those issues, it won’t be enough to win the title.
The Chargers aren’t a bad team. Yeah, they finished 4-12 in 2015, which is why many people are overlooking them, but injuries really played a major role in last year’s debacle. It’s not like they got blown away last season–they only lost four games by more than a touchdown. Unfortunately, three of those four losses came against AFC West opponents, which has to change if they want to improve. But even ESPN’s Bill Barnwell predicts the Bolts to bounce back in 2016.
“The team most likely to improve in 2016 is the Chargers, who fell short of their expected win total by almost exactly two full wins,” Barnwell said, which is based off his ‘Pythagorean Expectation.’ “Since 1989, 62 teams have fallen in the range of underperforming by 1.5 to 2.5 wins. Forty-nine of those teams (79 percent) won more games the following year, and the group as a whole improved by an average of 2.3 wins.”
Again, there are lot of things that need to happen in order for the Chargers to claim their first title since 2009, but I like the potential in this team. Heck, you shouldn’t count out the possibility of three AFC West teams making the playoffs, which happened in 2013.
If someone like Charlie can win the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, or that Liam Neeson can get away with making three of those Taken movies, then the Chargers have a chance in winning the AFC West title.
As for Bosa, I’ll keep it simple: sign this man! I understand, football is a business, but he needs to be on the field sooner rather than later. With Joshua Garnett signing his contract with the San Francisco 49ers, Bosa is officially the last rookie unsigned in the 2016 draft class. Expect him to sign within the next day or so.
I hope you enjoyed this little series. If not, I’ll reimburse you with coupons to America’s favorite restaurant, McDonald’s.
Chargers 2016 Bold Predictions: