The 2020 season officially begins tomorrow evening when the Chiefs take on the Texas at Arrowhead in front of roughly 13,000 fans. It’s going to be different, that’s for sure. But it’s football, nonetheless.
With the Chargers’ first game this Sunday at Cincinnati, I’m here to give you six predictions for the 2020. Some are fairly straight-forward and some are a little more far-fetched, but I believe they’re all fairly capable of coming true.
When you’re done, tell me what you think in the comments and let me know some of your own predictions for this upcoming season.
Joshua Kelley finishes with more rushing yards than Justin Jackson
If this prediction were to come true, it would mean that some bad things continued to happen to Justin Jackson. It’s not that I want to happen, but he’s already dealing with a new toe injury and the 2020 season isn’t even here yet. According to Anthony Lynn, he’s “fine” right now and will be good to go on Sunday, but we’ll see how long that lasts.
If Jackson misses any time at all, Kelley will have the chance to tote the rock quite a bit alongside Austin Ekeler. The change-of-pace back has always been a position under Lynn that has produced at an efficient level and it shouldn’t be any different this season. If he’s able to capitalize on his increased snaps in this situation, I could easily see Kelley leap-frogging often-unavailable Jackson in the pecking order.
The Chargers will have injuries, but they won’t pile up like they did in 2019
I means, it’s already started hitting the Chargers and we haven’t even played a single game. As of this moment, Derwin James is lost for the season, Mike Williams has a shoulder injury that will likely keep him out for a game or two, and Mike Pouncey has a an undisclosed injury that has kept him out of practice as of late. With today being Wednesday, the team’s first injury report should come out and clear the air over the veteran’s availability for this weekend.
But looking at this season as a whole, the jury is already out on it being another 2018 season where the only major injury was Hunter Henry, but they still have a chance to land somewhere between ‘18 and last season, where the roster was decimated early and often. I won’t even get close to predicting that they’ll likely kick the injury bug, but I’m basing this off the expected regression to the mean. The Chargers will likely have a handful of injuries this season but I just can’t imagine they see themselves trotting out third and fourth-string players on a weekly basis like they did in 2019.
Justin Herbert starts less than six games
Alright, this one is where I start to feel like I’m making semi-bold claims. Herbert was a quarterback picked in the top-10 and that usually means he will see the field at some point in his rookie season. That’s just how things have always been. But with the case of Tyrod Taylor being named the starter for week one, he’ll have a semi-lengthy leash before the “Herbert!” chants become loud enough that the coaching staff can’t ignore them anymore.
I’ve consistently said this offseason that the first five games will tell us a lot about this Chargers season. If they escape through week five with a record of 2-3 or better, I believe Tyrod plays the majority of the season. If the team is 1-4 or winless following that span, then I think Herbert plays much sooner than expected.
It will be a tough draw no matter who is under center with the likes of the Chiefs, Saints, and Bucs on tap in that span, but that gauntlet is followed up by the Jets, Dolphins, and Jaguars. If they can escape with multiple wins before that easy stretch, I think this team will have survived the toughest part of their schedule and Tyrod will go on to start another five-plus games, barring a catastrophic meltdown.
Keenan Allen catches more than 6 touchdowns
Over the last three seasons, Allen has finished with six receiving touchdowns each year. No more, no less. He’s been the epitome of consistent for this team, but I think it’s time he breaks out of that rut.
As the #1 on this offense, he’s going to get his targets. I believe both quarterbacks will look Allen’s way often in the red zone and now that the team’s passers offer some mobility, there’s now a chance for scramble drills and broken plays turning into points, especially within the 20-yard line. If there’s one guy on the Chargers who will know how to find the open windows when their QB takes off, it will be Allen.
Joey Bosa sets a career-high in sacks
Bosa has only played in all 16 games twice in his four-year career. The first time was in 2017 when he set a career-high with 12.5 sacks. The other was last season when he came up short of his best mark with 11.5 quarterback takedowns. In 2020, coming off his mega-contract, coupled with the addition of Linval Joseph, Bosa has the opportunity to reach a new level in 2020. Luckily, the Chargers begin the season with the Bengals and their horrid offensive line on Sunday.
The combination of Bosa and Ingram will face off against right tackle Bobby Hart and last year’s first-round pick, Jonah Williams, at left tackle. Williams tore his ACL prior to the 2019 season so this Sunday will be his first professional football game. No matter how great he was deemed coming out of Alabama, he’s getting a ticket in his NFL debut. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see Bosa leave Sunday’s game with multiple sacks and plenty of splash plays to kick his season off on the right foot.
Nasir Adderley will lead the team in interceptions
Last year, no one would have predicted that Rayshawn Jenkins would finish the 2019 season as the team’s leader in picks. But that’s exactly what happened when recorded a team-high three interceptions.
That’s why I feel fairly confident when I saw that Adderley will do the same in 2020. He played in one preseason game last season and came away with a pick while also failing to secure another. The guy just has incredible instincts on the back end and he has better ball skills than you’d expect. Don’t forget he was a pure ball-hawk while at Delaware with 11 interceptions.
I truly believe he has that “it” factor and I can’t wait to see him play this season.