The LA Chargers have a potentially high ceiling in 2020.
The LA Chargers are entering one of the most interesting seasons in franchise history. The team has moved on from long-time starting quarterback, Philip Rivers, and will deploy an offense with Tyrod Taylor likely under center.
This has created a mixed response among Charger fans, some optimistic in what Taylor can bring to the table while others are more hesitant to be excited. I certainly fall in the latter category myself.
Regardless of how you feel about the quarterback position, the fact remains that the Chargers still have a really talented roster around Taylor. A top of the line defense and several legit offensive weapons typically equals success.
Heck, the Chargers have one of the best RB1/TE1/WR1 pass-catching trios in the league in Austin Ekeler, Hunter Henry and Keenan Allen.
It is still hard to gauge just how good these Chargers will be though. Not only does the success of the season solely come down to the quarterback position, but the Chargers are a team that is known to either shatter expectations or fall well short (which is more often the case).
However, we think we have found the best recent comparison for the Bolts if *everything* happens to go right and the team reaches its *absolute* peak.
The 2015 Carolina Panthers.
Why the 2020 LA Chargers can be the 2015 Carolina Panthers:
First of all, let’s not forget just how good this Panthers team was. Carolina finished with a 15-1 record and marched their way to the Super Bowl before the Denver Broncos’ defense punched them in the mouth.
The win-loss record might be a tad skewed as the Panthers won a lot of close games, but they were still an elite football team.
The 2015 Panthers ranked first in the league in points per game and sixth in points allowed per game. Offensively, the team was led by the best season of Cam Newton’s career, in which he was named NFL MVP.
Do I think Tyrod Taylor can be the MVP? Absolutely not. But this was an outlier season for Newton and I would not put it past Taylor to have an outlier season in which he was a legitimate Pro Bowler and top-10 quarterback. I do think that can happen.
The two teams have similar offensive identities: run-first offenses that are led by mobile quarterbacks who do not have the best arms. Newton is more physical than Taylor and can make more happen in designed runs, but Taylor is much better in protecting the football.
Most importantly, Tyrod Taylor has significantly better offensive weapons. Newton had Jonathan Stewart (not a threat in the passing game), Greg Olson, Ted Ginn Jr, Jerricho Cotchery and Devin Funchess as his main weapons.
Taylor has a top-three pass-catching running back in Ekeler, a top-10 pass-catching tight end in Henry, a top-six wide receiver in Allen and another 1,000-yard receiver, who led the league in yards per reception, in Mike Williams.
If the Chargers find the right balance of run and pass and limit the turnovers then they absolutely could score close to the 31.3 points per game that Carolina scored. I don’t see them quite hitting that mark, but 26-29 is doable.
The 2015 Panthers had some great playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, but so do the Chargers. They had Josh Norman’s one elite season, Luke Kuechly and All-Pro Thomas Davis, among other solid defensive players.
The Chargers will not come close to having as good of a linebacker unit as Carolina had but they have a much deeper secondary with a legitimate CB1 in Casey Hayward as well as arguably the best strong safety in the league in Derwin James.
The team’s edge-rushers are unparalleled and the front office did a good job in addressing the run defense with Linval Joseph and Kenneth Murray. This *absolutely* is a team that can be in the top-five in points allowed.
The biggest x-factor is the offensive line. The Panthers had an elite offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranked second in the league.
Charger fans are hopeful that the O-line will improve but it won’t improve that much. However, it is important to note that Carolina also ranked low on the preseason rankings that season (22nd) and the Chargers have a member of that offensive line in Trai Turner.
The offensive line will truly be the difference in the LA Chargers winning 6-8 games and winning 10+.
Finally, just like the LA Chargers, the 2015 Panthers did not have high expectations. They had 60/1 Super Bowl odds and their over/under for wins was 8.5.
According to The Action Network, the 2020 LA Chargers have 45/1 Super Bowl odds and their over/under for wins is 8.