2. LA Chargers, 10-7 record
I am higher on the LA Chargers than other fans I know and I promise it is not a homer bias situation. Last season, I was very lukewarm about the team and was one of the only writers here on Bolt Beat that did not predict the team to have a winning record. An 8-8 record felt like the ceiling last season and they finished 7-9.
This season the ceiling feels as if it could be around 11 wins, so I will go one less with a 10-7 record. That should hopefully be enough to get into the playoffs and get Justin Herbert a taste of the games that matter the most.
There are still some holes on the roster that I think will be filled in the 2021 NFL Draft as well as the natural coaching bump by Brandon Staley. Yes, there are some guys who really need to step up moving forward, but every other team that Staley coached before had the exact same kind of players step up for them.
Herbert will naturally get more protection with a much better offensive line that I am actually optimistic about this season. If Austin Ekeler stays healthy then the run game won’t become non-existent and Derwin James is going to take pressure off any cornerback holes.
The Chargers will get a solid outside corner in the draft and a rotational edge rusher. The front seven is not the best but having a superstar in Joey Bosa can make it look a lot better than it really is.
I think the Chargers take a small step forward defensively and manage to be right around league average while maximizing Justin Herbert and the offensive side of the football. It sounds trivial, but coaching really did hold the Chargers back last season and they were still a Michael Badgley missed field goal away from being .500.
The Bolts should go 3-3 in the AFC West, 3-1 against the NFC East, split the Patriots and Texans, go 2-2 against the AFC North and win the extra game against the Vikings. That gets them to 10 wins.