LA Chargers Schedule: Ranking all 16 games by difficulty
By Steven Haglund
#9 toughest matchup of 2020: New England Patriots, Week 13
As long as Bill Belichick is the coach of the New England Patriots, I will never be confident in the Chargers beating them. That being said, without Tom Brady and basically half of that historic defense all gone from last season, it is obviously an easier matchup than it usually is.
No one knows what is going on inside that front office and some media members have suggested that they’re tanking to get in position to draft a quarterback next year.
I wouldn’t go that far and I certainly don’t think that Belichick would allow his team to lose enough games to be in that range. But it’s hard to look at this roster and understand what kind of plan he has for Jarret Stidham, or whoever is playing quarterback if it’s not him. I still think the Patriots will be a very tough and competitive team, but on paper the Chargers should be able to win this game.
#8 toughest matchup of 2020: Denver Broncos, Week 16
In my winners and losers article after the draft, I wrote about the Denver Broncos being one of the winners. As much as I dislike it, they really have had a great offseason. They added a bunch of weapons on offense and a couple very good veterans on defense in A.J. Bouye and Jurrell Casey.
This will be a difficult contest, as it always is. I would also look for this game to be flexed to a prime-time slate once it gets closer. I think both of these teams will be fighting for a playoff spot at that point in time and the NFL typically loves putting those kinds of matchups between division rivals on TV.
In this particular matchup, I’ll give the edge to the home team. I know there’s been a lot of jokes made at the Chargers’ expense because of their lack of home-field advantage but I am hopeful that changes in the new stadium after the team has had such a great offseason.
At the very least, the Broncos will have to travel on a short week so maybe the advantage isn’t huge but I would still expect this one to go in the Chargers’ favor. They can’t possibly be swept by Drew Lock, can they?
#7 toughest matchup of 2020: Las Vegas Raiders, Week 15
Clearly, I don’t expect much of the Raiders this year. I think they will be competitive in most of their games this year. I just don’t trust John Gruden to win close games on a consistent basis, especially when he has to rely upon that defense to keep things close.
I also don’t think the Raiders will have as clear of a home-field advantage as they are accustomed to in Oakland. Opposing fans weren’t traveling to attend games in Oakland very often but they will be in Las Vegas. Divisional games are always tough but if the Chargers are going to sweep any of the divisional foes, it’s going to be the Raiders.
#6 toughest matchup of 2020: Buffalo Bills, Week 12
With Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, the Buffalo Bills are being pegged as the next big thing in the AFC East. It’s pretty clear they are now the best team in the division, at least on paper. They are coming off a playoff appearance and theoretically have some momentum heading into 2020. Their defense should be great again this year, and they added more talent on that side of the ball after drafting AJ Epenesa in the second round.
The question about the Bills is going to be on offense. Adding Stefon Diggs gives Josh Allen easily the best weapon of his career. Diggs clearly wanted out from Minnesota but I think he’s going to discover pretty quickly how much he misses Kirk Cousins and playing in a dome.
I personally have never been a believer in Allen and until he proves otherwise, the Bills will be nothing more than a tough team. Will they win their division? Most likely, but I personally don’t see them winning more than ten games.
The tough part for the Chargers here is traveling to Buffalo at the end of November. They’ve shown they have been very capable of winning in Buffalo as well as other games in the cold in the past but that doesn’t make it any easier. This game has defensive slugfest written all over it.
#5 toughest matchup of 2020: Denver Broncos, Week 11
Back-to-back road games against the Broncos and Bills will be very difficult. Obviously I think the Broncos will be improved in year two under Lock, how much that really depends on him. They are being labeled as a potential surprise contender team right now by the national media but Lock will have to take a big leap forward for that to come to fruition.
The Chargers have struggled to get wins in Denver, especially late in the season. Putting this particular matchup at #5 isn’t intended as a slight, the Chargers just have some other matchups against clearly better teams.