The Chargers head into a new era, as 2019 was the final season with Philip Rivers as the team’s quarterback. Rivers signed a one-year, $25-million contract with the Indianapolis Colts during the offseason, and last year’s backup quarterback for the Chargers is stepping right into the starting role. Tyrod Taylor, who started for three years with the Buffalo Bills from 2015 to 2017, was the backup in Cleveland in 2018 before heading to Los Angeles.
Head coach Anthony Lynn, who was the Bills offensive coordinator and interim head coach, reunited with Taylor when the quarterback signed with the team in March 2019. At the beginning of the 2020 season, Taylor is already connecting with WR Keenan Allen, WR Mike Williams, and TE Hunter Henry. Allen received a new four-year contract extension worth just north of $80 million in early September. He is now the second-highest paid wide receiver in the league.
In April 2020, the Chargers may have found their potential future franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert. Many Chargers fans hope that they can look fondly upon the 2020 draft just like they did with the one in 2004. That year, the Chargers and New York Giants completed a trade that sent Eli Manning to the East Coast. Meanwhile, Rivers spent 16 years with the Chargers, as they transitioned from San Diego to Los Angeles. Although the Chargers have yet to win a Super Bowl in their franchise history, Rivers is a future Hall of Famer and arguably the best player in Chargers history.
Read Also: Denver Broncos Predictions and Odds
2020 Chargers Draft Picks
Justin Herbert, QB (Oregon)
Kenneth Murray, LB (Oklahoma)
Joshua Kelley, RB (UCLA)
Joe Reed, WR (Virginia)
Alohi Gilman, S (Notre Dame)
K.J. Hill, WR (Ohio State)
Notable Other New Faces for the Chargers
Linval Joseph, DT
Nick Vigil, LB
Chris Harris Jr., CB
Notable Chargers in New Places
Philip Rivers, QB – Indianapolis Colts
Melvin Gordon III, RB – Denver Broncos
Derek Watt, FB – Pittsburgh Steelers
Travis Benjamin, WR – San Francisco 49ers (opted out of 2020 season)
Thomas Davis Sr., LB – Washington Football Team
Adrian Phillips, S – New England Patriots
Notable Chargers on the Injury Report
Justin Jackson, RB – doubtful for Week 2 with a quadriceps injury
Mike Pouncey, C – placed on injured reserve with a hip injury; out for the 2020 season
Joey Bosa, DE – questionable for Week 2 with a triceps injury
Drue Tranquill, LB – placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury; expected to return for Week 8
Derwin James, FS – placed on injured reserve with a knee injury; out for the 2020 season
Chargers Who Have Opted Out of 2020 NFL Season
None; one of three teams to not have a player opt-out: Steelers and Falcons
Chargers Offense Predictions
Heading into the 2020 season, Tyrod Taylor had a 23-21-1 record as a starter. The majority of those contests were from his three seasons with Buffalo, but the Bills only had average defenses during those seasons. Taylor’s 2015 season earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl, as he amassed career highs in passing yards (3,035) and passing touchdowns (20). He also added 568 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns that year.
In 2016, the Bills offensive line could not protect him, as his 42 sacks led the league. Then, Taylor bounced back in 2017 to have the lowest interception percentage in the NFL. With Taylor being a threat in the air and on the ground, the Chargers can be a surprise team in 2020. However, one area of improvement will be his accuracy. His completion percentage as the starter in Buffalo was 62.6 percent.
Chargers Running Backs: Will Austin Ekeler Excel as the Starter and Will Rookie Joshua Kelley Perform Well in the Backup Role?
From 2015 to 2019, Melvin Gordon III led the Chargers in rushing. Austin Ekeler has now jumped into the starting role. Ekeler came onto the scene after he went undrafted in 2017. The Western Colorado University product signed a three-year, $1.66 million contract with Los Angeles that year.
He has improved every year, and he reached career highs in almost every category in 2019. Rivers targeted him 108 times last year and caught 92 passes for 993 yards and eight receiving touchdowns to go with three rushing touchdowns.
In Week 1, Ekeler received 19 carries while rookie Joshua Kelley ran the ball 12 times for 60 yards and a touchdown. With the two strong backs to go with Taylor, the Chargers have many running threats this season. Ekeler and Kelley could both be in for seasons in which they accumulate 1,000 yards apiece.
Chargers Wide Receivers: Will Just Keenan Allen and Mike Williams Be Enough at the Wide Receiver Position for the Chargers in 2020?
Only two wide receivers received more than one target in Week 1, and they were unsurprisingly Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Allen received his new contract, and the veteran pass-catcher is ready for another 1,000-yard season. After he got past his injury troubles, Allen has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last three years. In 2019, Mike Williams led the NFL in yards per reception as he put up the first 1,000-yard season of his NFL career.
Chargers Tight Ends: Hunter Henry Should Be Able to Fill the Wide Receiver Void
While the Chargers have two wide receivers leading the pack at that position, tight end, Hunter Henry can be counted on as a wide receiver at times in the Chargers offense. Henry, who led the team in receptions (five) and receiving yards (73) in Week 1, hopes to avoid the injury bug in 2020. He missed the entire 2018 season but bounced back to catch 55 balls for 652 yards in 12 games in 2019. He is complemented by tight end Virgil Green, who has spent his entire career in the AFC West. Green received the fourth-most targets in Week 1, so he could end up making an impact in 2020.
Read Also: Kansas City Chiefs Predictions and Odds
Chargers Defense Predictions
The Chargers struggled in 2019 more because of their offense than their defense, but the defense still needs to improve for Los Angeles this season. The Chargers allowed the sixth-fewest yards in the league, but in terms of points allowed, they were in the middle of the pack last year. They allowed at least 20 points in 10 non-overtime games in 2019, and they lost every one of them. If the Chargers offense can help out the defense this year, maybe some games can finish in victories.
Los Angeles opened the season with a 16-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1. DE Joey Bosa finished with game-highs in tackles for loss (two) and quarterback hits (three). DE Melvin Ingram III was responsible for the only interception of the game. It was his third of his career, and he has had one in each of the last three seasons. Ingram had seven sacks in 13 games last year. In 2020, the three-time Pro Bowler will approach his career-high of 10.5 sacks, which he has accomplished twice.
Read Also: Las Vegas Raiders Predictions and Odds
Chargers Special Teams Predictions
Michael Badgley has had injury troubles in his past, but his kicking percentages are impressive. He made 15 of his 16 field goal attempts in 10 games in his rookie season in 2018. He missed just one extra point that year. Then in 2019, Badgley made 13 of his 16 field goals but did make all 16 of his extra points in eight games.
In Week 1 of the 2020 season, Badgley made three of his four field-goal attempts. He tacked on an extra point as well. His only miss of the game came on a 50-yard field goal, but fortunately for the Chargers, they still won the game. If Badgley stays healthy, Los Angeles will be happy to have its competent kicker trotting out there for each season’s game.
Chargers Head Coach Predictions
Anthony Lynn finished the 2016 season as the head coach of the Bills for the final two games, and then he started as the head coach in 2017 with the Chargers. His first year with Los Angeles finished with a 9-7 record, but not a playoff berth. Then, his Chargers went 12-4 in the following year and won a playoff game.
However, Lynn may be on the hot seat in 2020 because he went 5-11 last year. The bright spots of last season were that the Chargers had the fifth-best yard differential and had a top-10 passing defense, but many areas need improvement. If Lynn wants to hold onto his job for the long-term, he has to hope that Taylor can improve the team’s offense.
Chargers Predictions for Week 2
The line for the Week 2 contest between the Chargers and defending champion Kansas City Chiefs opened at 5.5 points. The line has jumped to 8.5 points in favor of the Chiefs, who look like they are already in sync in 2020. Kansas City opened up the season with a 14-point victory over the Houston Texans.
The Chiefs have more depth on offense than the Chargers do, and Kansas City may have a better defense. Los Angeles is not a strong bet in this contest.
Chargers Predictions for 2020 Season
With the 2020 over/under for the Chargers being eight wins, bettors must have some confidence in Taylor leading this offense well if they want to take the over. Both the +4400 Super Bowl futures bet and the +850 bet to win the AFC West is difficult to take for the Chargers this season. Taylor, Ekeler, and Kelley could be a force on the ground, but Taylor’s arm does not have enough consistency to instill confidence. Los Angeles will have a difficult time making the playoffs this season.
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