Culver City Observer -

By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

LA Chargers: New Schedule and Hopes

Chargers favored to win the AFC West Division

 


The Los Angeles Chargers will begin their second season in Los Angeles in a much different place than they did one year ago. At that time, coming off a 5-11 season in 2016, Vegas prognosticators picked the Chargers to finish last in the AFC West in 2017.

Now, after a 9-7 season in 2017, the Chargers are favored to win the AFC West in 2018. The Chargers won nine of their last twelve games in the 2017 season in impressive fashion, and that has clearly influenced the prognosticators in 2018. The Chargers enter the 2018 season as the most stable team in the AFC West. The Chiefs, the Raiders and the Broncos all made changes at either quarterback or head coach.

The NFL schedules recently came out and below is the 2018 Charger schedule:

Week 1: vs. Kansas City Chiefs – The Chargers open at home on September 9th against 2nd year quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who earned the starting role when veteran Alex Smith was traded to the Washington Redskins. Mahomes has played in one NFL game in his short career, which is never a good match with a top-five pass defense led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

Week 2: at Buffalo Bills - Another favorable matchup for the Chargers pass defense. The Bills will either be starting career backup AJ McCarron or rookie quarterback Josh Allen. McCarron has thrown 14 passes over the past two seasons.

Week 3: at Los Angeles Rams – The “Fight for LA Game.” This should be a lot of fun.

Week 4: vs. San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers are a young team on the rise led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. As good as Garoppolo was late in the 2017 season, he has a total of seven starts in his four-year playing career.

Week 5: vs. Oakland Raiders – Another game that should be a lot of fun. Jon “Chucky” Gruden has returned to coach the Raiders and he should make an immediate impact on the Raiders. These are two teams that really don’t like each other.

Week 6: at Cleveland Browns - The Browns are coming off an 0-16 season and have lost 34 of their last 35 games.

Week 7: vs. Tennessee Titans (London) – A neutral site home game for the Chargers.

Week 8: BYE

Week 9: at Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks are no longer the intimating defensive team they once were, and they have struggled to run the ball the last few seasons.

Week 10: at Oakland Raiders - Round 2 of the rivalry with the hated Raiders.

Week 11: vs. Denver Broncos – The Broncos have a new starting quarterback, having signed Case Keenum in the offseason. Keenum is coming off a good season with the Minnesota Vikings, having led them to the playoffs. The Broncos have struggled at quarterback since the retirement of Peyton Manning.

Week 12: vs. Arizona Cardinals – Quarterback Carson Palmer and Head Coach Bruce Arians retired at the end of last season. The Cardinals are a team in transition. They may end up starting former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, a rookie.

Week 13: at Pittsburgh Steelers - A tough week 13 matchup on the road.

Week 14: vs. Cincinnati Bengals - An easier week 14 matchup at home.

Week 15: at Kansas City Chiefs (TNF) – Playing a road game at Kansas City on a Thursday Night makes this the toughest road game of the 2018 season for the Chargers.

Week 16: vs. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens have not made the playoffs since 2014. Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson could be starting for the Ravens by week 16.

Week 17: at Denver Broncos – The Chargers close the regular season out on December 30th at Denver. These guys are never easy to beat in Denver.

The schedule is very favorable to the Chargers early in the season. They play 4 of their first 5 games in Los Angeles, with three of those games at home. The schedule gets tougher later in the season, starting in Week 13.

The Chargers will be facing a number of young and inexperienced quarterbacks this season. Putting young and inexperienced quarterbacks against the Chargers pass defense is like throwing fresh meat to a shark.

Undrafted Free Agents: The Chargers signed twenty undrafted free agents after the NFL Draft. General Manager Tom Telesco and his staff have had much success in finding quality players that go undrafted over the past few years. Starting cornerback Trevor Williams, starting wide receiver Tyrell Williams and backup running back Austin Ekeler are among the undrafted players that the Chargers have added with success.

This year, two players stand out as possible additions to the 53-man roster: Nic Shimonek, Quarterback, Texas Tech – The Chargers did not draft a quarterback and have a need to develop a young quarterback of the future to eventually replace Philip Rivers.

Shimonek played in the Texas Tech “Air Raid Offense” which is a spread offense, but he has the arm strength to make the transition to the NFL. Shimonek threw for nearly 4,000 yards last season, with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Brandon Facyson, Virginia Tech, Cornerback – Facyson was a four-year starter at Virginia Tech. He has good size, at 6’2” and 203 pounds. He ran a 4.53 forty at the NFL Combine and has good footwork. Facyson was third team All-ACC as a freshman with five interceptions and eight passes broken up.

Facyson was rated a 4th round draft pick by Ourlads Scouting Services. Facyson wants to eventually go to medical school and become a heart surgeon, but he first wants to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL.

Injury News: The Chargers announced that starting tight end Hunter Henry suffered a knee injury (torn ACL) in OTA’s and will miss the 2018 season. The injury is a big blow to the Chargers. Backup Virgil Green will likely become the starter at tight end.

The Chargers could resign Antonio Gates, the future hall of famer who was let go by the team. Gates will be 38 years old next month, but he might have another season of football left, and he is a favorite of Charger quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rookie Dylan Cantrell, the Chargers 6th round draft pick, could move over to tight end. Cantrell has the size to move over to tight end in a hybrid role. He was considered a good blocker at wide receiver and has the size, at 6’3” and 226 pounds to move into that role.

 

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