Week 8: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have become a consensus pick among many to be the worst team in the league. Despite how good Gardner Minshew was last year, some look at Trevor Lawrence as the future if Jacksonville winds up with the number one pick. With Lawrence being the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, it’s hard to blame them.
As for 2020, a lot will rest on how Minshew is able to carry the offense. With Calais Campbell and Jalen Ramsey gone, the defense is in a full rebuild. That’s before even getting to a potential Yannick Ngakoue trade or holdout. CJ Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson are solid draft picks but will take a while to develop.
What to watch for: How good will the Jaguars’ receivers be in 2020? DJ Chark could present some problems for the Chargers. He was really impressive in 2019. With the quality of the Chargers’ secondary though, Jacksonville will need Keelan Cole or even rookies like Laviska Shenault Jr. and Collin Johnson to step up.
This is the easiest game the Chargers will have all year. While there should be some respect for Minshew and some of the young pieces on Jacksonville’s defense, there’s a lot of areas on the team starving for talent. At home, this is a simple win.
Week 9: vs. Las Vegas Raiders
The Chargers played two fairly close games vs. the Raiders last year but failed to win either. Rivers’ interceptions proved too costly by the end of the first game. As for the second game, the Chargers sleepwalked into that one with the season already over for the most part.
The Raiders will go as far as Derek Carr takes them. It’s not exactly a deep analysis to say that, This could be a particularly big year for Carr, considering the Raiders have paid him almost all of his 70.2 million guaranteed. Personally, I’ve always thought that Jon Gruden hasn’t been a Carr fan, and that was only intensified this season by bringing in Marcus Mariota.
Despite some of the Raiders’ faults, they do have some solid talent on their team. The offense has become scarier with Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller, and new draft picks like Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards.
What to watch for: Ball security. The Chargers absolutely shot themselves in the foot by turning the ball over so much in the first game against Oakland last season. Rivers was responsible for those errant throws. Taylor will likely be the starter for the whole season, and he has to protect the ball. When they don’t turn the ball over, the Raiders are beatable.
This will be a close game. It doesn’t help that the Raiders will likely overflow the stadium (well, if there are fans). I’ll give a slight edge to the Raiders since the Chargers blew by easier opponents in the last few games.