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The Chargers have a problem winning regular season openers

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 25: Travis Benjamin #12 of the San Diego Chargers catches the ball during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 25: Travis Benjamin #12 of the San Diego Chargers catches the ball during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Although the Chargers often finish a season strong, they tend to have a problem starting it…

The Chargers are looking to build off a very impressive 12-4 2018 record; in order to do so, Los Angeles will have to accomplish something they don’t normally do: Win a regular season opening game. Under former head coach Mike McCoy and current head coach Anthony Lynn, the Chargers have failed miserably in Week 1.

Here are all six opening-day outcomes since 2013:

  • 2013: Loss
  • 2014: Loss
  • 2015: Win
  • 2016: Loss
  • 2017: Loss
  • 2018: Loss

All five losses were games in which the Chargers had a chance to win or tie, only to fall short or give up a lead every time. Their only victory was a home-opener where the team had to overcome a 10-21 halftime deficit to beat the Detroit Lions.

Is it a lack of preparation? The only action the team sees prior to opening day are preseason games, with the third of four games featuring the most starters for the longest duration. Here are the outcomes of those games:

  • 2013: 24-7 victory vs Arizona Cardinals
  • 2014: 7-21 loss vs San Francisco 49ers
  • 2015: 15-16 loss vs Seattle Seahawks
  • 2016: 10-23 loss vs Minnesota Vikings
  • 2017: 21-19 victory vs Los Angeles Rams
  • 2018: 7-36 loss vs New Orleans Saints

Those losses do not fall squarely on the shoulders of the starters; for instance, the Chargers’ first-team offense and defense held a 7-0 lead heading into the second quarter against the Saints, eventually yielding 36 unanswered as reserves rotated in. The preseason games do not ultimately matter, but the 2-4 record in those contests (and an 84-122 scoring difference) suggest the entire team is not as prepared as it could be.

Next. What are the Chargers' biggest remaining weaknesses

Their 2019 Week 1 opponent? The Indianapolis Colts, who with a dominant offensive line, great quarterback, and ascending defense will be a tough first game. The Colts, fortunately, have not had much Week 1 luck themselves, being outscored 32-80 in their previous two games. Both teams handily won their respective Wild Card Round playoff games last season before being embarrassed on the road in the Divisional Round the following week. To avoid this, and give themselves a chance to have a first-round bye so they may host a playoff game as a well-rested and well-prepared squad, each team must win their season opener. Do the Chargers have what it takes to beat a Colts team fighting for the same thing? So far, they haven’t shown they do.

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