A 19-7 loss to Kansas City in the final game of the season kept the San Diego Chargers at home during the playoffs despite a 9-7 regular season record. The Chargers have averaged eight wins per season over the past five years and made the playoffs just once. All the offseason talk about the franchise; however, was about if and when the club may move to Los Angeles. Regardless of where they play, NFL odds aren't giving the Chargers much of a chance in Super Bowl predictions to hoist the Lombardi trophy listing the squad as 40/1 underdogs, 22/1 longshots to win the AFC Conference and +500 to win the AFC West.
If the San Diego Chargers are to have any chance of winning games in the playoffs, they will have to improve their ground game. Part of that improvement will be just keeping the offensive line healthy. Five different players started at center last year due to injuries. Orlando Franklin was signed from Denver to start at left guard. San Diego moved up in the draft to select Wisconsin All-American Melvin Gordon with the 15th pick in the first round. Gordon’s impact should immediately help quarterback Philip Rivers.
Rivers was the subject of speculation during the NFL Draft when it appeared San Diego might be making a move for Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. That did not happen and Rivers will be back for his 10th season after throwing for 4,286 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2014. The Chargers defense is solid after finishing ninth in the league in total defense last year. Defensive coordinator John Pagano is going to have to find a way to generate more of a pass rush. San Diego had just 26 sacks last season. Defensive end Cory Liuget, a former first round draft pick, must continue his improvement.
San Diego signed cornerback Patrick Robinson from New Orleans and safety Jimmy Wilson from Miami to bolster the secondary along with veteran strong safety Eric Weddle who led the team in tackles with 114. Much of San Diego’s success in the 2015 AFC West division will come down to staying healthy and improving their running game. The Chargers started 5-1 in NFL odds last season, but couldn’t finish due to a rash of injuries on the offensive line. Staying healthy at the end of the season may be enough to propel the Chargers and head coach Mike McCoy to another playoff berth but to defy Super Bowl predictions and become champions seems unrealistic.
Chargers Update (9/9/15): San Diego are now +4000 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +1800 to win the AFC Conference and +375 to win the AFC West.