San Diego Chargers 2013: Game by Game Predictions
After two mediocre/sub-mediocre seasons (7-9 in 2012 and 8-8 in 2011) the Chargers FINALLY got rid of A.J. Smith and Norv Turner, replacing them with Tom Telesco and former Broncos' Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy. Things couldn't get worse than consecutively progressively worse seasons coupled by the release of more stellar talent, could they? Already, the new GM failed to fill the one truly necessary spot on the team's roster in the draft (offensive left tackle) and the preseason has already demonstrated that the Chargers' problems of years past continue to plague them today; namely, the lack of an offensive line and turnovers.
Compounding the problem are the serious injuries already sustained by the team including #1 WR Danario Alexander (torn ACL), LB Melvin Ingram (torn ACL), S Brandon Taylor (torn ACL) and fifth-round pick CB Steve Williams (torn pectoral muscle) who are out for the season. Lesser (if they can be called such) injuries include WR Eddie Royal's bruised lung and concussion, WR Malcom Floyd's strained knee, and second-round pick LB Manti Te'o (sprained foot), each of which the Chargers and their fans hope heal before the start of the regular season.
Earlier this year I predicted that the Chargers would finish the 2013 season with another mediocre 8-8 record and I continue to hold onto that optimistic thought.
So here goes:
Week 1: September 9th vs. Houston (MNF)
With Houston's 12-4, division-winning season last year and playoff victory vs. Cincinnati--not to mention their 2-0 preseason start--I believe that the Texans will continue to build off last season's momentum and handily beat the Chargers on national television. The problematic offensive line will not be able to keep up with a tough Texans' defense led by J.J. Watt, Rivers does not play well under pressure, and the loss of key Chargers defensive players will make it extremely difficult for San Diego to stop both RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson.
Chargers lose 31-17
Week 2: September 15th at Philadelphia
Despite new head coach Chip Kelly's success at Oregon and the talent-laden Eagles, I think that it will take some time for the new offensive to fully mesh. However, the Chargers do not historically play well on the east coast. Nevertheless, given the Eagles' abysmal 4-12 season last year and the fact that San Diego will want to come back strong from a week one defeat, I think that the Chargers will overcome their east coast issues.
Interestingly, the last four teams to play in Philly's home opener have won the Super Bowl. Hmmmm.
Chargers win 27-24
Week 3: September 22nd at Tennessee
The Titans have been adept at pressuring opposing teams' quarterbacks; however, their weak secondary is also known for giving up big plays. Rivers has been known to make some pretty big plays in his time so this may fare well for San Diego. Tennessee did add WR Kevin Walter from Houston and TE Delanie Walker from San Francisco to give the Titans' offense some additional depth to RB Chris Johnson's impressiveness. However, the Chargers' defense was productive against the run last season so as long as Rivers isn't pressured too much then San Diego should defeat the Titans.
Chargers win 28-24
Week 4: September 29th vs. Dallas
In a battle of two teams with impressive talent and QBs who tend to choke in high-pressure situations, this game is a toss-up; however, being at home will give Rivers the extra edge in this game.
Chargers win 34-28
Week 5: October 6th at Oakland
The Chargers swept the hapless Raiders last season and given their loss of several key players and a swiss-cheese secondary, Rivers has the potential for a big game against his division rivals.
Chargers win 28-16
Week 6: October 14th vs. Indianapolis (MNF)
Yet another MNF game for San Diego (I still have nightmares about last season's MNF "double-header" vs. Denver). Colts' QB Andrew Luck now has veteran Mass Hasselbeck to mentor him and Indianapolis will definitely maintain the momentum from last season's 11-5 record, particularly with the frequent last-minute heroics of Luck. Whereas San Diego's WR core looked poised to make some big plays versus Indy's defense, injuries will be problematic. So will playing on Monday Night in a hostile, dome environment.
Chargers lose 34-27
Week 7: October 20th at Jacksonville
The Jaguars were horrid last season with a 2-14 record. Given their preseason play it doesn't appear that this team will improve much at all. As long as San Diego can stop Maurice Jones-Drew and not fall prey, once again, to its "sure win" losses then the Chargers should win this game.
Chargers win 34-17
Week 8: Bye
Thank goodness! Time to regroup, refresh, and reCHARGE!