I know the San Diego Chargers are seven games into a sixteen game season, but after the Washington Redskins game we're going to be so wrapped up in OH MY GOD THE DENVER BRONCOS ARE SO SCARY coverage that we won't have as much time to do half-season reviews and previews. Well, we'll probably do some, but not enough!
So, although it's not-quite a half season into the 2013 campaign for Mike McCoy's group, I'm going to pretend that it is (and follow Ben Higgins' lead) and predict how the second half of the season will go for the Chargers. Unlike Mr. Higgins, I will be going up against a very formidable challenger in predicting the future of this organization: Myself!
- On April 30th, I predicted that the Chargers would be 3-4 at the bye and would finish 4-12.
- On September 4th, during an episode of Gennaro-ly Speaking, I explained that everything had changed now that the team was using more of a hurry-up offense and having Philip Rivers make playcalls at the line of scrimmage. I went through the schedule game-by-game and explained that the team could go 10-6.
- On September 9th, I had calmed down a little bit and predicted that the Chargers would be 3-4 at the bye and would finished 7-9. My reasoning for this was being torn between my prediction of 4-12 and my prediction of 10-6...so I took the average and went with 7-9.
Yes, my flip-flopping caused some controversy. My 4-12 prediction was made before I had seen the new offense. My 10-6 prediction was made excitedly after I had seen parts of the new offense. My 7-9 prediction was the result of trying to introduce reality into my optimism.
So, now that I have (almost) a half-season of regular season games to go through to help me predict the future of this team, how have my predictions changed?
Week 9: San Diego Chargers at Washington Redskins
These 10am PT games are really starting to cramp my style, but I do enjoy the Chargers playing a very weak NFC East division all season long.
The Redskins offense is finally starting to get some traction and they look scary-good once again. However, the Washington defense is hilariously bad. They can't stop the run (29th by DVOA), nor can they stop the pass (23rd by DVOA). They have a couple of guys that can rush the passer, but that's easy enough to gameplan around considering their secondary and run defense are so terrible.
This lines up for another one of those games where the Chargers have the ball for 48 minutes and we're wondering if the opposing offense even broke a sweat.
Outcome: Win (5-3 record)
Week 10: Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
Thank goodness this game isn't in primetime.
The Chargers lost twice to Peyton Manning's team last season, by 7 points and by 11 points, but what will stick out in everyone's mind is the great first half lead that was lost in the second half.
I honestly don't think the Chargers have the horses to stick with this Denver passing attack, but I always think that when the Chargers play Peyton Manning and it always ends up being closer than I think. This isn't a sure thing, but...
Outcome: Loss (5-4 record)
Week 11: San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins
Enough with all of the flying, already! I mean, I'm thankful the team doesn't have to go to London, but they're going to be wrecked by the end of the season from all of these cross-country trips.
By the numbers, this Dolphins team isn't very good. They're ranked 20th in offense and 20th in defense by DVOA. They started the year off hot, going 3-0 against the Browns, Colts and Falcons, before going 0-3 against the Saints, Ravens and Bills. As much as Ryan Tannehill looks like he could be a really good QB one day, I don't think this team has enough around him to beat a good team without a lot of luck on their side.
Outcome: Win (6-4 record)
Week 12: San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
I've seen these Andy Reid teams before. Flawed QB and an easy schedule, but none of it matters. They're rolling and Andy will keep them that way for a while.
That defense is for real, and Jamaal Charles is being used as well as he ever has been before. Alex Smith is still a versatile QB with an insane ability to not turn the ball over and win games (26-5-1 over the last three seasons!). This team will go 8-0 at Arrowhead this year.
Outcome: Loss (6-5 record)
Week 13: Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers
Here's where the fun begins. The Chargers have a winning record with five games left, three of those being games against division rivals and four of the games being at Qualcomm Stadium. This is where the run that catches everyone's attention happens....right?
I don't know why the Bengals aren't getting more love this year. They're 5-2, with their losses coming against a good Bears team (in Chicago) and a fluky Browns team (in Cleveland). Maybe it's because they're very boring, despite having wins against the Packers, Patriots and Lions. Football Outsiders has them as the 15th best team in the league, with a vanilla offense that is backed by a really good defense.
This is going to be a tough one. I hate to say it, but the Chargers are going to need to get lucky with injuries in this one. They'll need one of Cincinnati's best players to miss this game to swing the momentum in their favor. Otherwise...
Outcome: Loss (6-6 record)
Week 14: New York Giants at San Diego Chargers
That Giants team is bad. Really bad. Really, really bad. Not quite "Jacksonville Jaguars" bad, but not far from it either.
Outcome: Win (7-6 record)
Week 15: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (Thursday Night Football)
Thursday night game! Anything can happen!
Let's be honest, the Broncos are starting to show some cracks in the armor. They just barely beat the Dallas Cowboys (who the Chargers handled), they were in a close game with the Jaguars (who the Chargers handled) until the fourth quarter of the game, and then they lost to the Colts (who the Chargers handled). In between playing the Chargers the first time and second time, they have the Chiefs (twice), Patriots and Titans. That's no cupcake schedule for them.
I want to believe the Chargers can pull out one of these games against the Broncos. I think the Chiefs will beat them twice. I think their defense will start to become their Achilles heel. I think they'll make the playoffs and probably win a game, but this will be the moment when Mike McCoy announces to a national TV audience that his team is for real...
Yeah, I know. It's probably not happening.
Outcome: Loss (7-7 record)
Week 16: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
What the hell was that the last time the Chargers played the Raiders? The defense was worse than usual, both lines got bullied all game, and Philip Rivers went back in time to the Norv years. If that happens again....yikes.
I don't think it will. I think that was a lesson learned, and that the team will be ready with some revenge next time. Also, there's not a ton of hope for the Raiders to make the playoffs this year. This might be somewhat of a pointless game for them.
Outcome: Win (8-7 record)
Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
I don't think Andy Reid is going to be trying real hard to win this one, although I suppose the team could be fighting for a bye week and homefield advantage.
I'm giving this one to the Chargers for any number of reasons. Four out of five home games over the end of the season. Needing the win more. Possibly playing against KC backups. A crazy home crowd that wants to send the Chargers back to the playoffs. Pick your favorite.
Outcome: Win (9-7 final record)
My range of wins before the season was between 4 and 10. Now, with adding information to go off of, it's more like 7 and 11, and I've split my optimism once again to predict a final record of 9-7 and a playoff berth for Mike McCoy's 2013 San Diego Chargers.
Do you agree to disagree with my predictions? Do you think the team will finish with a better or worse record?