How a stacked AFC West can benefit the LA Chargers

SoFi Stadium
SoFi Stadium / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

It’s a very exciting time for the LA Chargers franchise and could be the most pivotal point in its history. A new world-class stadium, one of the league’s best rosters with marketable superstars, a massive LA media market, an amazing social media presence, a new state-of-the-art training facility on the way, and the best uniforms in the sport just to top things off. The start of the Justin Herbert era could not have come at a more perfect time. 

The Chargers have all the ingredients necessary to become one of the league’s premier organizations and establish a winning culture. They enter the 2022 season with Super Bowl ambitions and massive expectations with the incredible roster they have put together. Their efforts were matched around the division though, with the AFC West making big moves of their own.

The LA Chargers now find themselves hunting first place in the NFL’s clear-cut toughest division.

There is a bright side, as the AFC West has become box office. Box office is definitely a positive for a franchise in a new city. The Chargers will have five prime-time games this season, along with division rivals Chiefs and Broncos. The Raiders are not far off, still landing four prime time slots. It’s a sign that this is the division to watch, gaining tons of media attention all offseason. It is wide open for the taking, with the Chiefs losing Tyreek Hill and pieces of their defense, the rest of the division will be looking to finally catch up.

Not only is the AFC West stacked, but it looks to remain that way for the foreseeable future. All four teams seem to be optimistic about the future and aggressive in their approach to winning a title.  Justin Herbert is only entering year three and Patrick Mahomes will still be just 27 when the new season begins. Derek Carr at 31 just signed a three-year extension this offseason, and Russell Wilson will be eyeing a new deal with the Broncos at 33 with plenty of years left in the tank.

It is worth pointing out though that the NFC West has been consistently competitive in the playoffs and making waves in the post-season, despite being labeled the “toughest division” in the league for quite some time. Teams from good divisions enter the playoffs battle-tested and ready to go, the Rams were proof of that just last year. Funny enough, the NFC West and AFC West will play each other this year, making the new schedule that much tougher.

Each divisional match-up will be high stakes and widely discussed. The more eyes the better, as the Chargers look to compete with the Rams to gain traction in LA. Both have struggled so far, as LA is known as a tough sports market. The Chargers seem to have everything going for them at the moment and there has never been a more exciting time to be a fan, but they will need to put it all together on the field to truly usher in this new era of Chargers football. 

When you win big games on a big stage, people take notice. The franchise is branded well from all angles, on and off the field. It’s perfectly suited to attract new fans, especially the younger demographic.

For them, this new feel Chargers franchise is all they know. To use the Cowboys as an example of thriving in a big division, the NFC East was always an asset to the team. This was a high-profile division with all three other teams based in very large media markets, with New York obviously being the top market in the entire country.

The AFC West has the chance to provide a similar type of boost to the Chargers organization, both in on-field reputation and national media attention. Should the Chargers be able to find and sustain success in such a difficult division, it would bring some great advantages.

Consistent prime time slots, growth in the fanbase, increased revenue, and the ability to continuously attract free agents. All in sunny Southern California while playing in one of the world’s best venues, and the continent's second-biggest media market. 

At the end of the day though, the overall success of the franchise will always depend on winning consistently. With the Chargers’ 2022 roster, it’s easy to set high expectations but we’ll have to hope for a healthy season and growth from the younger players. This team did need to dip into the free-agent market to round out this roster, but free agency will always play a big role in NFL team building.

A team can only draft so well for so long, and veteran stars are a hot commodity to help send teams over the edge. Los Angeles will continue to be a recruiting tool for free agents, especially when paired with one of the league’s best quarterbacks offering them a chance to win. All factors come into play in free agency, and there are not many other teams in the league that have as much to look forward to in the very near future.

The Chargers are on the rise, and it's a franchise with a real opportunity to create something special for the long haul. Thankfully everything seems to be moving in the right direction both on and off the field.

What’s left now is the ultimate goal of putting the best product out on the field, and winning a Super Bowl. A title had eluded the franchise in the period of success they had in the 2000s, and this team will now have a real chance to right past wrongs and change the narrative.