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Chargers just miss playoffs in ESPN’s massive 2021 season simulation

Los Angeles Chargers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Simulations can be a fun and exciting exercise for football fans that have a constant need for more football content. There’s only one real season that happens in a given year but simulations give you an infinite amount of hypothetical campaigns to scratch that itch.

Well, ESPN also loves their simulations and last week they posted their findings from a massive 20,000 simulations run in regards to the 2021 NFL season. The sim was based off ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) where numerous factors such as past performance, preseason stats, and returning starters go in to creating a strength rating for each team.

So how did the Chargers fare in these simulations? Well, instead of looking at the average of all the simulations, the team behind the experiment focused specifically on simulation number 13,330.

Here’s how things shook out.

The Chargers started rough through their first five games, coming out just under .500 at 2-3. The next month saw them go 1-2, including their bye week, to find themselves at 3-5 around the midpoint of the season. The Bolts would go 3-0 over their next three games to give themselves a winning record and then finish the final six weeks going 3-3, finalizing their first year under Brandon Staley at 9-8.

That’s a winning record for the Chargers and their first since the 2018 season. Unfortunately, despite tying with the Steelers and Jaguars with the same record, the latter two teams end up making the postseason as wild cards while the Bolts are stranded on the outside looking in.

In all, the seven teams to represent the AFC in the postseason were the Bills (13-4), Colts (13-4), Browns (12-5), Chiefs (11-6), Dolphins (10-7), Steelers (9-8), and the Jaguars (9-8).

The Chargers finished second in the division ahead of the Raiders (8-9) and the Broncos (7-10) in what ended up being another close race in the AFC West.

If you don’t care to click the link about and see how the simulation ended, the Bills would go on to down the Packers in the Super Bowl by a score of 27-17 and Josh Allen beats out Patrick Mahomes for the NFL’s MVP.

When I get asked about my record prediction for the Chargers, I usually go with 10-7. It’s a decent improvement from their 7-9 record last season and I believe the hire of Brandon Staley is worth at least a few more wins. However, I believe the 9-8 prediction still isn’t half bad. It’s a winning record, a two-game improvement in the win column, and may be what it takes to land a wild card spot like it was for both Pittsburgh and Jacksonville in the above simulation.

I think fans should be content with either record, but when it comes to the intense hype surrounding the new coaching staff, ending the year without the playoffs and one game over .500 may not be good enough.

Go ahead and give me your thoughts on the simulation below and whether or not you feel this was fairly realistic or just plain nonsense.