Chargers Look to Build Off Positives from 2020

It’s not often teams who are coming off a losing season, and the firing of a head coach feels like they are in a good place immediately moving forward. But such is the case for the Los Angeles Chargers. 

An unfortunate and equally strange injury turned into not only the biggest bright spot for the Chargers last season but maybe one of the top stories in the entire league. 

When starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor had a punctured lung due to an injection gone wrong, No. 6 overall draft pick Justin Herbert was called to step in. The rookie out of Oregon came running through and slammed the door shut behind him and on Taylor for the rest of the season. 

Los Angeles may have finished with a 7-9 record, which cost Anthony Lynn his job, but the breakout season from Herbert has created a buzz around the team.

According to BetUs — one of the Top Sportsbooks at Online Betting Sports — the Chargers over/under wins this season is 9.5. Bettors who think the Chargers will hit the over have odds at -110, while the odds of hitting the under sit at -120. 

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Encore Performance?

After setting NFL rookie records for most passing yards (4,336), touchdowns (31 with only 10 INTs), and competitions (396), what does Herbert do for an encore presentation? Those numbers are more solid for any quarterback, let alone a rookie who was not a starter in NFL Week 1. There are no indications as to why Herbert can’t put up those numbers again in his sophomore season, and is a big reason why Charger fans are hoping to see the playoffs this season.

Breakdown of the Schedule

Los Angeles opens the regular season on the road against the Washington Football Team. According to Bovada — another one of the top sportsbooks at Online Betting Sports –, the Chargers are a slight favorite at -1 (-105). Fans wishing to take the Chargers on the Moneyline will get -120 odds.

After their home opener against Dallas in NFL Week 2, the season takes a more daunting turn for the Chargers. Super Bowl favorite Kansas City welcomes the Chargers to Arrowhead in NFL Week 3 before Los Angeles battles the top two favorites in the AFC North in back-to-back weeks — at home versus Cleveland in NFL Week 6 and at Baltimore in NFL Week 6.

Aside from hosting the Chiefs in NFL Week 15, the rest of the Chargers’ schedule is favorable. Based on last season’s records, Los Angeles ranked 17th in terms of the toughest strength of schedule. Opponents on the Chargers’ 21-22 schedule finished last season with a .493 winning percentage (133-137-2).

Key Players

A healthy Austin Ekeler should help take some of the pressure off Herbert’s shoulders this season. Ekeler finished as the Chargers’ leading rusher last season with 530 yards despite missing six games. 

Justin Jackson and Josh Kelley will split time as the backup to Ekeler while rookie Larry Roundtree is fighting this summer to get some reps in the Chargers’ backfield as well. No matter whose number is called to handle the rock, Los Angeles will need to get more production from its backfield this season. Herbert led the team in rushing scores last season with five, while Ekeler, Kelley, and Jackson combined for just three scores on the ground. 

Pro Bowler Keenan Allen returns as the Chargers’ top receiver while Mike Williams provides a solid No. 2 WR.

The loss of Hunter Henry to New England leaves Herbert throwing to Jared Cook and Donald Patham, Jr. at the tight end position. 

More odds

For those unsure, if the Chargers can get to the 9.5 win mark, BetUs also has a win margin you can bet. 

Odds of the Chargers winning 0-4 games are +1400, 5-9 odds pay -140, 10-14 wins pay +110, while those who believe in a remarkable season will get +3300 odds that the team can win 15-17 games.

Prediction

As mentioned above, the schedule is not an arduous one for Los Angeles this season, but the success may hinge on the backfield. Herbert can only do so much, and a young QB paired with a young head coach is not exactly the greatest combination. But last season’s success should provide a bolt of confidence for Herbert, which will also elevate everyone around him and will be the reason Los Angeles hits the over on its win total.

2021-22 Season Record: 11-6; 2nd in AFC West

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