The sky seemed to be the limit for the LA Chargers after five weeks of the 2021 season. The Bolts beat the Cleveland Browns in an offensive shootout in Week 5 and had wins over the Browns, Chiefs, Raiders and Washington Football Team. The schedule was set to ease up after the bye and 10 wins felt like an afterthought.
Things have since changed. The Chargers are 2-4 in their last six games with a three-point win over the Eagles and a four-point win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chargers could have righted the ship in Week 12 with a divisional showdown against the Denver Broncos, whose record seemed misleading. Instead of emerging with a huge win to move to 7-4, the Chargers are now 6-5.
Prior to Week 12, we were under the impression that the Chargers would beat the Broncos and should have been considered the favorites to win the AFC West. Now, after the disappointing outcome, it would be surprising if the Chargers are even able to reach 10 wins this season.
Why the LA Chargers are probably not going to reach 10 wins:
While the remaining schedule is easy on paper, Week 12 proved that we cannot take anything for granted with the Chargers. Sure, we can sit here and say the Chargers should win certain games on the schedule, but in reality, the only game that we can absolutely say that the Chargers will win is against the Houston Texans.
The team also has a possible lay-up in the New York Giants. The Chargers should win that game as well but they hardly beat the Eagles, who lost to the Giants. After Week 12, it is hard to sit here and say that the Chargers should undoubtedly beat the Giants. Even if we assume that they are going to beat the Giants it is hard to see the Chargers reaching 10 wins.
The Chargers would have to finish 4-2 in the last six to finish 10-7. Wins against the Texans and Giants means that the Chargers would have to finish just 2-2 against the Bengals, Chiefs, Broncos and Raiders. With wins over both Kansas City and Las Vegas, that seems like a very easy task for the Chargers to accomplish.
With the way the Chargers have been playing and the way the Bengals have been playing it is hard to pick the Chargers over the Bengals. In fact, we picked Cincy in our Week 13 prediction. The explosive Bengals offense is going to pick on Tevaughn Campbell while Joe Mixon tears apart the run defense. While the Chargers could win a shootout, what are the odds of them winning three 70+-point shootouts in one season, especially with this on the road? The odds are slim.
And sure, the Chargers beat the Chiefs but this is a Chiefs team that has won four in a row. One team has an arrow pointing up, another team has the arrow pointing down. The Chiefs haven't lost both games against an AFC West opponent in a season since 2014 when the Denver Broncos beat the 9-7 Chiefs twice.
Sure, the Chargers play the Chiefs well, but with Kansas City trending up and the Chargers trending down, with Andy Reid's history in the division, the Chiefs should be heavily favored.
Then you have the Raiders and Broncos. If the Chargers beat the Broncos in Week 12 then we could sit here and talk ourselves into them beating both teams. However, with how volatile this offense is, we cannot assume that the Bolts are going to sweep either team. Sure, they could beat both the Raiders and Broncos down the stretch, but they should have beaten the Broncos and Vikings. The reality is that they probably split the other two divisional games.
That puts the LA Chargers at 9-8. Would that be good enough to make the playoffs? Maybe? But it all depends on how the rest of the crowded AFC playoff picture shakes out.