2. The AFC playoff picture is going to be crowded
There are more playoff-contending teams than I expected there to be and that is going to significantly hurt the Chargers’ chances of making the playoffs, even as an eighth seed. A 2-2 start is not bad, a 1-3 start makes things much tougher.
Let’s break down the playoff teams. Kansas City is a lock for the AFC West, we can safely assume that Baltimore wins the North, for simplicities sake we will say Tennessee and Buffalo both win their divisions with 9-10 wins.
There are three playoff spots and the teams contending are the New England Patriots, who are 2-1 and better than expected, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 3-0 and better than expected, the Tennessee Titans, who are 2-1 and outside of the Jacksonville clunker have looked really good, the 2-1 Cleveland Browns and the 2-1 Las Vegas Raiders.
That is a lot of teams that will be vying for those three playoff spots and all of those teams above can reasonably be expected to at least be in the hunt at the end of the season.
Also, let’s not forget that the Chargers have to take on the New Orleans Saints in Week 5. Michael Thomas will likely be back and while the Saints have not looked as good as years past, it is still the Saints and that is an even tougher game than the Tampa Bay game.
A 1-3 start could easily turn into a 1-4 start.
And while the team has a stretch of easier games that can help work them back towards .500, we would have to assume that they do not drop any disappointing games like the Carolina game.
And as we were reminded in Week 3, we cannot just assume that to be the case.