The LA Chargers‘ schedule for the 2020 season was officially revealed on Thursday and fans are already making their predictions on how many wins the team is going to get and the toughest and easiest stretches of the season.
Overall, it appears as if the common consensus is that the Chargers have a relatively easy schedule. After all, the team is getting a last-place schedule, which does give them two automatic games against fellow last-place division teams.
However, despite what the strength of schedule looks like compared to last year or how it may look based on projected win totals, the LA Chargers’ schedule is more difficult than most people are giving it credit for.
Why the LA Chargers’ schedule is more difficult than you may think:
First off, we have to understand why Charger fans might be looking at the 2020 schedule and thinking it will be easy. NFL statistician Warren Sharp posted the strength of schedule rankings for the 2020 season based on the projected win totals of each team from Las Vegas.
A better way to consider 2020 strength of schedule is by using projected 2020 win totals from the betting market.
Using odds from multiple sportsbooks updated as of today…
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) May 7, 2020
Based on the projected win totals of all 32 teams, the Chargers have the fifth-easiest schedule in the league. Metrics like these are better than using 2019 records, but they still are not perfected. The Chargers were projected to have one of the easiest schedules in the league last season by this model and came right around league average.
The first place to start is the AFC West, a division that is probably better than you think. First, we have the Kansas City Chiefs. While Chargers fans are hopeful in beating the Chiefs, they are the defending champions for a reason and while the Chargers have had success in maintaining the Chiefs, they have not succeeded much in beating them.
The Chiefs are 11-1 against the Chargers since the 2014 season.
Then we have the Denver Broncos, who played well with Drew Lock under center, surrounded him with more weapons in the draft and have a solid, overlooked defense. The Broncos are going to be in the running for the playoffs, like it or hate it.
The Las Vegas Raiders are the worst competition in the AFC West and they still got better. Considering the Chargers went 0-6 against the division last year, it cannot be completely ruled out that they struggle again this season.
All it takes is a few things to go wrong and the Chargers could fall in the 0-6 to 2-4 range in AFC West play.
Then we look at the divisions that the AFC West is playing: the AFC East and the NFC South.
The NFC South is more of a wild-card as it presents two likely playoff teams with legend quarterbacks in New Orleans and Tampa Bay. Say what you will about Tom Brady and his age but it is going to be very hard to beat him and the Bucs on the road. The same can be said for the Saints.
The Falcons are a sneaky dangerous team who, like the Chargers, often underperform and we cannot just assume that is a win. On paper, the Chargers should beat the Panthers, but with an offensive that has Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey, anything can happen.
The Saints and Bucs are solid. The Falcons and Panthers are bigger challenges than fans are giving them credit for.
The AFC East is weak, thankfully, but will still be challenging. The Buffalo Bills are a very solid team that will be favorited against the Chargers and it does not help that the Chargers have to play the Dolphins in Miami, a place where the team historically struggles.
Talent-wise, the Chargers are good enough to take three of four against the AFC East. However, it is not out of the realm of possibility to go 2-2 against the AFC East and if things go wrong, as they often do for the Chargers, they could end up going 1-3. Unlikely, but certainly plausible.
The two last-place games are against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals, two teams that the Chargers absolutely should win.
However, between the division games, the NFC South and the Buffalo Bills, the LA Chargers have nine games that are losable. Consider the wild-card games against the Panthers, Falcons, Dolphins and Patriots and it becomes easy to see how things could quickly spiral out of control for the Chargers.
This is not to say that the LA Chargers are going to have a terrible season, but when breaking down the schedule, there are far too many variables to call it an easy slate for the Bolts.