Current record after 13 weeks: 10-2
12/9 Week 14 Vs. Cincinnati Bengals
This game looks a lot easier on paper than it ends up being once I really think about it.
Looking at the Bengals’ offense, there are the obvious studs in WR AJ Green and RB Joe Mixon. QB Andy Dalton isn’t too shabby when the offense is clicking, either, and TE Tyler Eifert used to be one of the best before his injuries started to pile up.
However, it is their defense that gives me the most pause. They have one of the best defensive line units in all of football with the likes of DT Geno Atkins, DE Carlos Dunlap, and up-and-coming second-year edge rushers, Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis.
Add in young defensive back William Jackson with veterans Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick and you have yourself a defense that the Bolts cannot risk underestimating.
Former first-round WR John Ross looks to finally be coming into his own and this spells potential danger if the Chargers aren’t able to stay on top of him. This is roughly in the same vein as when they play the Chiefs and they have to worry about WR Tyreek Hill. Both Ross and Hill are two of the fastest players in the NFL, with the former having set the 40-yard dash record at the 2017 NFL Combine.
This game has one of the largest chances of being a trap game if the Chargers don’t show up like they should this late in the season. The Bengals possess strength at a lot of important positions and that cannot be overlooked.
If the Bolts haven’t been hit with the injury bug by this point, this is a game they should win at home.
2018 Record: 11-2
12/13 Week 15 @ Kansas City Chiefs
In week one’s contest, the Chargers came away with its’ first victory against the Chiefs in over four years. I noted that a win at home over KC would really start the year off on a high-note and really set the tone for the season. In their second match-up of the season, I don’t believe it goes the way of the Bolts again.
Andy Reid is a phenomenal coach and I fully expect him to fix whatever problems burdened the Chiefs in week one. Patrick Mahomes should be a much better quarterback at this point in the season and I just can’t get behind the idea of the Chargers sweeping the Chiefs after not winning a game in the four seasons prior.
We also cannot forget how the injury bug rears its’ ugly, ugly head at least once before the season is over. Last year, it was, coincidentally, the second match-up against the Chiefs where it struck, knocking out tight end Hunter Henry and a number of other players before the clock hit zero.
I believe Reid works his magic and pulls out a victory at home to even the season series between these two teams.
2018 record: 11-3
12/23 vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens have been known for two things over the last few seasons:
1.) An underrated defense that can cause numerous turnovers
2.) An inept passing game led by Joe Flacco.
If you watched any of Baltimore’s games last year, you will have likely noticed that almost all of their wins coincided with the defense playing extremely well. Defensive backs Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey, Tony Jefferson, and former Chargers safety Eric Weddle combine to make one of the best secondaries in the league.
Their front seven includes a number of formidable players, as well, in DT Michael Pierce, DT Brandon Williams, LB C.J. Mosley, and the ageless-wonder OLB Terrell Suggs.
They’ve also been one of the best run defenses in the league and that could lead to problems for the Chargers if they are unable to get anything going on the ground.
Like everybody else, I am totally here for an Eric Weddle revenge game. If you told me after the game that Weddle snagged two interceptions and smacked Rivers on the behind after both of them, I wouldn’t second-guess a thing.
I think the mistake-prone Chargers finally start to regress here after a stellar season up to this point and lose their second in a row.
2018 record: 11-4
12/30 @ Denver Broncos
For the third-straight year, the Chargers end the season facing one of their divisional rivals. Two years ago, it was the Chiefs in their last game within the confines of Qualcomm Stadium. Last year, the Bolts won comfortably against the Raiders. This year, the Chargers travel to Mile High to take on the Broncos out in Orange Crush country.
A number of things could have happened between this game and the last. Keenum could be on a tear, half the ACLs on the Chargers could have spontaneously imploded, or anything in-between.
The defense will likely be much-improved in 2018 so i’ll give the Broncos some leeway at home. This will be as tough as any of the other AFC West match-ups throughout the year and I believe this second contest between the two will be closer than the last as these two teams could both be playing for a spot in the playoffs (Chargers for the division crown, Broncos for a wild card spot).
I predict the score of this game to be around 17-14 with the the Chargers narrowly escaping and punching their ticket to their first playoff-berth since 2013.
2018 record: 12-4
So there you have it, the entire slate of games picked.
And I promise, I tried to be as realistic as possible without being a “homer”.
A lot of these match-ups just looked great on paper and I’m well aware of all the crazy things that will likely go one throughout the season that cannot be foreseen in anyway. If the Chargers stay healthy and avoid any meltdowns a la 2016, they have a real shot at the record I predicted. But I wouldn’t be surprised to find them losing at least one or two more games. For the life of me, I just couldn’t pull the trigger on any other games to be losses.
What do you guys think? Were there any games I predicted to be wins that you see as losses, and vice versa? Let’s talk about it.