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Chargers’ 2018 Schedule Prediction: Part 2

Second in a series of game predictions for the Chargers’ 2018 schedule.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Current record after four games: 3-1

10/7 Week 5 Vs. Oakland Raiders

The AFC West has found a lot of success over the last five years and the Chargers are finally trending in the right direction with the rest of the division heading south at the same time.

Ever since Gruden arrived in Oakland, he has seemingly handed out contracts to a ton of players currently over the age of 30. In comparision, the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers currently roster six, six, and five players over 30, respectively. The Raiders, however, have 14. Not the best look for a team trying to bounce back from a lack luster season.

Derek Carr and the offense return running back Marshawn Lynch, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and what should be an improved offensive line after selecting uber-athletic offensive tackle Kolton Miller out of UCLA. The offense will also look to get a boost in reliability from longtime-Packer wideout Jordy Nelson while hoping the addition of former-Steeler Martavis Bryant will up their potential for explosive-plays in 2018.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders selected a duo of elite athletes at the defensive tackle position in P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst. Both are relegated to backup duty to start camp but I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the two crack the lineup. Hurst was arguably the most disruptive interior defensive linemen in the draft while Hall ran a sub-4.8 forty at almost 310 pounds.

After sweeping the Raiders in 2017, I don’t see any reason why anything would change this season. The likes of Cooper, Nelson, and Bryant make up an intimidating wide receiver core but the Bolts’ secondary will be even better. Lynch and the offensive line could still offer problems if the run defense refuses to take a step forward but, in the end, I don’t think the Raiders defense has the play-makers to match up with the Bolts’ firepower. I expect a few scares and some frustration, but the Chargers will come out on top in this one.

2018 Record: 4-1

10/14 Week 6 @ Cleveland Browns

In 2016, the Chargers gave the Browns their only victory over the last two seasons. Last year, they were close to giving them their second. In 2018, with the roster revamped and packed with top-tier potential/talent, this game is really up for grabs. The only thing working against the Browns is the fact they’re still the Browns.

Whether it is Tyrod Taylor of Baker Mayfield behind center, the Bolts will have to deal with an offense packing some exceptional firepower. Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, and Corey Coleman make up the starting wide receiver group. Running backs Carlos Hyde and second-round pick Nick Chubb will bring the thunder on the ground while Duke Johnson can make plays at any position on the field.

The defense is highlighted by an athletic front-seven that includes 2017 top overall draft pick Myles Garrett, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. The linebacker group packs a ton of versatility with Christian Kirksey, Jamie Collins, Joe Schobert, and Mychal Kendricks all fighting for the three starting spots.

The secondary got some juice after the Browns selected cornerback Denzel Ward with the fourth-overall selection in this year’s draft. He will start opposite EJ Gaines while Jabrill Peppers and Damarious Randall will patrol the deep part of the field.

This game will depend on what Chargers team shows up. The Browns will have home-field advantage and, depending how they start the season, could be riding a ton of momentum going into this game. I am severely torn on the outcome of this game, but to continue the optimistic vibes surrounding the team, I believe the Bolts will pull out another narrow victory. However, this one could go either way and I want to acknowledge that this isn’t the same Browns team that we have come to expect in recent years.

2018 Record: 5-1

10/21 Week 7 Vs. Tennessee Titans (UK)

The Titans and Chargers were both hot teams this time last year as potential breakout teams that could make it far into the playoffs. The Chargers barely missed the playoffs while the Titans squeaked in and put together an amazing come-from-behind victory to upset the Chiefs in the opening round.

Gone is Demarco Murray. Former-patriot Dion Lewis is now the backfield mate to Derrick Henry and the Titans run-game is still as intimidating as ever. Quarterback Marcus Mariota may have come have come on strong towards the end of the season but his 2018 campaign was a major letdown when compared to the lofty expectations he was given prior to the season. The receiver group is a healthy mixture of experience and young talent with Rishard Matthews, Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, and Tajee Sharpe. Tight end Delanie Walker just signed an extension with the team and will likely continue to be one of the most consistent players at his position.

The defense picked up some real talent in the recent draft with linebacker Rashaan Evans and EDGE rusher Harold Landry. They join an underrated defense that possesses several Pro Bowl players already in safety Kevin Byard and defensive tackle Jurell Casey, as well as recently-acquired cornerback Malcolm Butler. This unit can give any team their fair share of fits throughout a game and I believe they’ll also be the X-factor for this game.

Both offenses have plenty of firepower. The Chargers will have the advantage through the air but I have to give the Titans the edge in the ground game. If the Bolts don’t reinforce the run defense, they could be in for a frustrating game.

Their match-up during the 2016 season was a blast to watch as both teams lit up the scoreboard. The Chargers almost dropped the game in the final minutes but held on to a tight victory. For the 2018 edition, I predict a similar outcome. With both teams playing at a neutral site, I see Rivers and Co. continuing their hot-streak to start the season.

2018 Record: 6-1

11/4 Week 9 @ Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks are always a tough match-up, regardless if this isn’t the same team that found itself in two super bowls during a three-year span. As long as they have Russell Wilson, they have a shot at winning games. Wilson will likely be joined in the backfield by Rashaad Penny, the team’s recent first-round selection. Head Coach Pete Caroll has made it know he wants to get back to establishing the run and Penny is a big part of those plans.

I don’t know how well that will all go as Seattle possesses one of the weakest offensive line groups in the entire NFL. If you watched any of their games from 2017, you likely saw Wilson running for his life on every play. The Hawks may have added a few pieces to correct this issue but not enough to stop the dynamic EDGE duo of the Chargers.

On the other end, the Legion of Boom is gone, but linebacker Bobby Wagner still holds down the middle of the defense. One of the best at his position, he will continue to make everyone around him better. Earl Thomas is still with the team, for now. He is currently demanding an extension from the team and, if he doesn’t get it, he wants to be traded as soon as possible. If I had to place my money somewhere, he won’t be there by the time this game takes place.

Wilson will make some plays, including a few of his signature “how did he do that”-type stuff, Baldwin will catch a number of passes and possibly score, but the Seahawks will simply be unable to stop the Chargers and their plethora of playmakers on either side of the ball. Lord have mercy on Wilson as he tries to run away from Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa while simultaneously attempting to complete a pass around Hayward, Williams, and King.

2018 Record: 7-1