The Chargers were recipients of a very tough schedule to close out the 2018 season, but this year may be a bit easier on the players…
The Chargers were beaten badly in the postseason a few months ago, stemming mostly from an undermanned roster facing a super genius of a head coach and quarterback. Better health, acquisitions of new players, and the development of their roster will all contribute to a more successful 2019 season. However, one different aspect of this season, which appears beneficial thus far, may help them make their postseason run: An easier schedule at the end of the year.
Now, that’s not saying the Chargers have a greater chance of winning these games as the ones through the same weeks of last season, but on paper they appear to be less physically demanding games. Here are the final four games of the 2018 season:
- Week 13: Prime time game in Pittsburgh
- Week 14: Home against the Cincinnati Bengals
- Week 15: Prime time game in Kansas City
- Week 16: Prime time game against the Baltimore Ravens
- Week 17: Away against the Denver Broncos
That’s three prime time games and a final game at Mile High Stadium against an AFC West rival who beat them six weeks earlier. The only “easy” game was against the Bengals, which was only a five-point victory for the Chargers. They had to play a prime time game against the Chiefs, then a physical game against the Ravens, followed by another physical game against the Broncos before heading to the postseason to play another physical game in Baltimore. Were the Chargers crushed in Foxborough for more reasons than just fatigue? Absolutely. But such a rough schedule may have contributed to the team being down 35-7 at the half, when just the year before they were a Travis Benjamin safety away from potentially winning a game against the Patriots where the final score was 21-13.
Here’s the 2019 schedule with the same weeks, coming off of a bye week no less:
- Week 13: In Denver
- Week 14: In Jacksonville
- Week 15: Prime time against Minnesota
- Week 16: Home against Oakland
- Week 17: At Kansas City
Again, these games are not any easier on paper, but as it is right now it’s a much easier slate of games to finish out the season. Following a very late bye week, the Chargers will face two tough defenses in the Broncos and Jaguars before hosting the Vikings for Sunday Night Football, which is great news for them if Kirk Cousins is still the quarterback, who is 5-13 in prime time games and only put up six points against the Chargers in their last meeting. The Raiders and Chiefs, particularly the latter, will be difficult games to close the season, but they will not be as physical as the one-two punch of Baltimore and Denver back-to-back in 2018. Both those teams will feature more offense than defense, making it more of a scoring affair than a throwback defensive struggle. If the Chargers can make it into the postseason after that, with or without a first-round bye, they’ll be in better shape than last season.