Los Angeles Chargers
Head coach: Anthony Lynn (third year)
Last year’s record: 12-4-0, lost in divisional round vs. New England Patriots, 41-28
First game: Sept. 8 vs. Indianapolis Colts
Win total: Over/Under 9.5 (Over 9.5 -145, Under 9.5 +125)
Super Bowl odds: +1350
In Anthony Lynn’s second season as head coach, he transformed a struggling franchise into a Super Bowl contender. The Chargers were nearly unbeatable on the road, as the team lost only once as a visitor, 35-23 to cross-town rival Rams.
The Chargers’ other three regular-season losses occurred against AFC powerhouse Kansas City to open the season, the Broncos in November and the Ravens in December. With a 12-4 record the Chargers earned a wild-card berth into the playoffs, where they defeated the Ravens 23-17, then lost 41-28 to eventual Super Bowl champion New England.
Who’s in and who’s out
Heading into 2019 Los Angeles will return most of its major pieces, including 15-year veteran quarterback Philip Rivers. The Chargers lost receiver Tyrell Williams to the Raiders in the offseason and let go of tight end Antonio Gates, though it’s been rumored they may bring back Gates for one more season, the eight-time Pro Bowler’s 17th year in the NFL.
Hunter Henry will serve as the No. 1 option at tight end after he sat out last season with a torn ACL. Virgil Green will be No. 2 on the depth chart following a year in which he caught 19 passes for 210 yards and a TD. Gates outperformed Green last season, with 333 yards and two TDs. It’s not out of the question to imagine general manager Tom Telesco calling on the 39-year-old to suit up one more time, especially with players like star receiver Keenan Allen voicing a desire to see Gates return.
As for roster additions, the Chargers brought in outside linebacker Thomas Davis and quarterback Tyrod Taylor in free agency. Los Angeles also re-signed linebacker Denzel Perryman to a two-year, $12 million deal and safety Adrian Phillips to a one-year, $2 million contract.
The Chargers added a solid group of young talent through the draft, which includes Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, safety Nasir Adderley, offensive tackle Trey Pipkins and linebacker Drue Tranqill.
First game of the season, Sept. 8, 4:05 p.m. ET, Dignity Health Sports Park
Indianapolis Colts (+135) at LA Chargers (-160)
Spread: Chargers -3 (-105)
Over/Under: Over 48 (-105), Under 48 (-105)
Both the Colts and Chargers ended last season with losses in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Colts look poised to make another run in 2019 and appear even more dangerous with wide receiver Devin Funchess and defensive end Justin Houston joining the team in free agency. Get ready for a thrilling season opener and a Colts upset.
Over/Under win total: 9.5
Schedule (bold font indicates home game): Colts, Lions, Texans, Dolphins, Broncos, Steelers, Titans, Bears, Packers, Raiders, Chiefs (Mexico City), BYE, Broncos, Jaguars, Vikings, Raiders, Chiefs
A road game and a neutral-site game against the Chiefs (one in Mexico City and one in Arrowhead Stadium) will result in losses for the Chargers. The Bears will be another difficult test, and you can count on the Chargers to split games with the Broncos—LA has lost at least once to Denver every season since 2010. The Chargers won’t match last year’s 12-win season, but they’ll still manage at least 10 victories.
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