There arguably wasn't been a more snakebitten team in the NFL than the San Diego Chargers the last two seasons. And the injury woes are already beginning again for the Los Angeles Chargers, with top pick Mike Williams sidelined with a back injury.
Will a move to L.A. into a 30,00-seat soccer stadium actually lead to better things coming off the greatest 5-11 season in history? Here's what our projections say.
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|Projected wins||In playoffs||Win division||Conference||Super Bowl|
SportsLine projects the Chargers to take a step forward this year but fall just short of reaching .500, which is in stark contrast with our expert predictions below. These projections put them well behind the curve in the AFC West, which has three teams projected at 8.0 wins or better.
|Win total||Playoffs||Division||Conference||Super Bowl|
|7.5 (O -140)||+220||+450||25/1||50/1|
All odds via Westgate.
Bettors are buying into the hype with the Chargers, causing their 7.5-win total to lean significantly on the Over. For those who agree that the Chargers will be better than expected, taking them to make the playoffs at these odds makes for a quality play, as the wild card race seem wide open in the AFC, thought SportsLine's projections would scream to stay away.
Will Brinson defends his 11-5 prediction:
The Chargers have to get lucky at some point with Philip Rivers, right? This prediction feels a lot easier to stomach if Mike Williams is capable of playing (although he's probably not starting regardless) and if Forrest Lamp is healthy (he is not and will miss the year). The Bolts have a franchise quarterback who has proven capable of elite performance regardless of the weapons around him and the protection the team provides; Rivers should once again elevate the skill position players, but Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and Tyrell Williams all need to stay healthy. A big third campaign for Melvin Gordon would be a large plus.
L.A.'s defense is an underrated unit, one that finished seventh in Football Outsiders' Defensive DVOA metric, even though the traditional metrics don't show how good this unit was. It will be changing in 2017, but could be even better: Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram lining up on opposite sides will be terrifying for quarterbacks, and while Gus Bradley's tenure in Jacksonville was ... regrettable, he has shown a propensity to be an excellent defensive coordinator. The Browns, Dolphins and Bills offer excellent opportunities for out-of-division wins, and this projection obviously takes into account the other teams in the AFC West taking a step back in 2017.