The LA Chargers have a disadvantage in the AFC West that is out of their control.
The LA Chargers are looking to respond from a disappointing 5-11 season by yet again completely flipping the script and returning to the playoffs. The team is also welcoming in a new era at the same time, as this is the first time in 15 years that Philip Rivers will not be under center.
While it was sad to see Rivers leave and sign with the Indianapolis Colts, it is safe to say that Charger fans are excited for a season that won’t have so many turnovers with a safer quarterback under center in Tyrod Taylor.
The rest of the roster is fairly stacked, so there are reasonable expectations that the Bolts will be a playoff team yet again in 2020, especially with the playoffs expanding to seven teams in each conference this season.
However, while the front office has done a good job at building a solid roster, the LA Chargers still have one inherent disadvantage in the AFC West. And the worst part? This disadvantage is completely out of the Chargers’ control.
The LA Chargers’ disadvantage in the AFC West:
It all has to do with the schedule.
The AFC West is playing the NFC South and the AFC East — one solid division and one not-so-solid division. The NFC South has two Super Bowl contenders in the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a third team that could contend for a playoff spot, the Atlanta Falcons.
The only clear-cut playoff team in the AFC East is the Buffalo Bills, unless the New England Patriots shock everyone despite the talent that they have lost this offseason (on top of Tom Brady).
The other two teams that the Chargers play are the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals, two games the team should win.
So where does the disadvantage lie? It all has to do with the home and away games. When you compare the Chargers’ home and away games in 2020, it is quite clear that the Bolts got the short end of the stick.
The three toughest opponents, outside of games inside the AFC West, are as followed:
- New Orleans Saints
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Buffalo Bills
The one common denominator for all three of those teams? The LA Chargers have to play them on the road. They have a 10:00 a.m. PDT start time in Tampa Bay and Buffalo and a Monday Night Football slot against the Saints.
The Broncos and Raiders do not have the same problem. Not only do the Broncos host all three of the teams listed above, but they also host their next-toughest games against the Tennessee Titans. Their toughest road game, outside of the division, is against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Raiders host the Bucs, Saints and Bills as well. They also get to host the Indianapolis Colts while their toughest out-of-division road game is probably the Falcons.
The Kansas City Chiefs also have to play in Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Buffalo but they are already essentially a lock to win the division, so that does not really make a huge difference. Where the main difference is made is with the other two teams in the west.
Heck, the LA Chargers even have to play the Miami Dolphins on the road! Miami is a place where the Chargers have always struggled in and that makes a winnable game turn into one that could very easily go the other way.
They are also the only team in the AFC West that has to play the Bucs and Saints in back-to-back weeks.
These are the kind of things that can make the difference in an NFL season and be the difference between the LA Chargers being a 7-9 team and being a 9-7 team.