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B/R predicts Bolts to finish 9-8 in 2021

Over .500 in Brandon Staley’s first year isn’t terrible.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Immediately after the release of the 2021 schedule, the internet was flooded with analysts and writers predicted how the coming season would go for the teams they cover. Sometimes the crystal ball is a bit biased but overall you like to think most of thes predictions thrown out there are wrapped in a decent bit of realism.

Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report put out their list of predictions for all 32 teams and the Chargers were pegged to finish just over the .500 mark at 9-8.

“The group of pass-protectors was brutal last season,” says Ballentine. “Herbert absorbed 32 sacks, an additional 70 hits and pressure on 28.7 percent of his dropbacks last season. He still managed to win Rookie of the Year.”

“Selecting Rashawn Slater with the 13th pick was a perfect marriage of value and need. It also completed the remodelling after they signed likely starters in center Corey Linsley, guard/tackles Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi to go with Bryan Bulaga at right tackle.”

Despite the re-vamped offensive line, Ballentine believes there are some shortcomings on defense that may hold them back.

“The Chargers finished 18th in defensive efficiency last season, and their moves on that side of the ball may be net neutral. Drafting Asante Samuel Jr. in the second round should be helpful in the secondary, but they also lost Casey Hayward and safety Rayshawn Jenkins.”

New head coach Brandon Staley, the former defensive coordinator of the Rams, will hope to have a positive impact on the group, but if Herbert sees a sophomore slump, the defense might not be able to carry the Chargers in games.

At 9-8, Ballentine has the Chargers finishing second in the AFC West. The Chiefs are predicted to finish 14-3 at the top while the Broncos are third at 8-9 and the Raiders are in the basement at 7-10.

I’ll dish out my own predictions for the 2021 season soon, but I want to know how you’re all feeling about this prediction. Is 9-8 a realistic record? Is it too high? Low? Why or why not? Let me know.