The LA Chargers head into the bye week in Week 7 with a 4-2 record, which is tied for first place in the AFC West. The Bolts' schedule to open the season was extremely daunting and a 4-2 record before the year felt like optimistic thinking.
While the sour taste of a blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens is still fresh for every fan, it is really hard to be upset about the Chargers' start thus far. Sure, the last game was ugly, but the team is still in a really good position to win 12-13 games and even win the AFC West.
The historical implications of the Chargers starting with a 5-1 record were fantastic. A 5-1 start essentially would have guaranteed a playoff berth, even if the Bolts did not have the best history with starting a season 5-1.
A 4-2 record is much different than a 5-1 record. Sure, they are only one game apart, but the historical context of both records is much different.
What a 4-2 record for the LA Chargers means historically:
Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, there have been 338 teams to start a season with a 4-2 record (this excludes the strike seasons of 1982 and 1987 as they did not play a full season). Of those 338 teams, exactly 200 of them made the playoffs. About 59.2% of 4-2 teams end up playing for something in January.
There is important context that makes this different than previous years, though. First, the NFL is now operating under a 17-game schedule, which makes things much different when we are talking about playoff chances.
Second, the NFL has adopted an extra playoff team, which only increases the LA Chargers' odds of making the postseason with a 4-2 start. That is a good change as far as the Chargers are concerned.
The NFL implemented the seven-team playoff structure last season, so how did those 4-2 teams fair? Six of the seven teams to start the 2020 season with a 4-2 record last season made the playoffs. The only team that didn't was the Arizona Cardinals, who finished on the outside looking in with an 8-8 record.
One of those seven teams to start the season with a 4-2 record was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who went on to win the Super Bowl. In fact, 13 Super Bowl-winning teams in NFL history started with a 4-2 record. Ironically enough, exactly 13 teams have lost in the Super Bowl after starting 4-2.
As far as the Chargers are concerned, the Bolts have only begun a season with a 4-2 record eight times in franchise history. The last time that the Chargers started with a 4-2 record was the 2018 season when they finished with a 12-4 record and picked up a playoff win in the AFC Wild Card Round.
Only one of the other seven teams actually made the playoffs and it was the 14-2 Chargers (the best team in franchise history) from 2006. Every other Charger team to start with a 4-2 record missed the playoffs. Three finished with exactly a .500 record, three finished with a losing record.
The 2001 Chargers finished the season with a 5-11 record, going 1-9 in the teams final 10 games.
This is a good example that nothing is guaranteed in the game of football. Anything can happen any given week and the LA Chargers' season could take a nosedive. Luckily, this is a really talented team with a sharp coaching staff that has an easier schedule from here on out, so there shouldn't be any massive disappointment.
I like the LA Chargers' chances to finish the season not only with a winning record but to finish with double-digit wins and make the playoffs.