Week By Week Schedule Preview
Despite an easy schedule last season, the Chargers ended with a 5-11 record and last place for the AFC West. They are looking to bounce back in this season after a successful free agency and draft. Here are the teams the Bolts will face during the 2020-2021 season.
Week 1: Sept. 13 at Cincinnati Bengals
Starting the season with an away game is never easy. However, the good news is that they are playing the worst team in the league last season. No matter how good Joe Burrow plays for Cincinnati, this should be an easy win. If the Chargers want to bounce back from last season, starting their season with a win could go a long way.
Week 2: Sept. 20 vs Kansas City Chiefs
The home opener for the Chargers comes against the defending champions. Last season, despite losing both games, they held Patrick Mahomes in check as he threw for under 200 yards and an interception in each meeting. Defeating the Chiefs in week two could jump the Chargers into first place in the AFC West and get them on a winning streak.
Week 3: Sept. 27 vs Carolina Panthers
Carolina made a big switch at quarterback this offseason, going from Cam Newton to Teddy Bridgewater. While this should help the Panthers offense, their defense is still at the bottom of the league. With that being said, the Chargers can’t afford to lose this game, especially at home.
Week 4: Oct. 4 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Chargers are one of the first teams to test the new and improved Buccaneers. Although it is in Tampa Bay, this is their chance to prove to the league that letting Brady slide in free agency was the right decision.
Week 5: Oct. 12 at New Orleans Saints
A Monday Night showdown with the New Orleans Saints should be very entertaining. The last meeting between these two teams was back in 2016 when the Saints ran in the game-winning touchdown to beat the Chargers, 35-34. This will be the third straight NFC South game for the Bolts.
Week 6: Oct. 18 vs New York Jets
The Jets are lined up to be an average team in 2020, and shouldn’t give the Chargers any problems this game. Sam Darnold will fall apart against the Bolts dominant defense.
Week 7: Oct. 25 at Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins had a complete makeover this offseason. Miami’s defense got a huge boost, and Tua Tagovailoa has the chance to become their next franchise quarterback. This might be one of the toughest games for the Chargers.
Week 8: Nov. 1 vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville is in the midst of a rebuild and will most likely end up tanking for a better draft pick. On paper, this is the easiest game for the Chargers this season.
Week 9: Nov. 8 vs Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are another team that had an extremely productive offseason. This is the first of two meetings between the two this season, so the Chargers must grab a division win heading into their bye week.
Week 10: BYE WEEK
This is the perfect time for the Chargers to have their bye week. It gives them time to rest and prepare for the final seven games, which seem to be the tougher portion of their schedule. Therefore, the Bolts must close out the season strong from this point on.
Week 11: Nov. 22 at Denver Broncos
Chargers-Broncos has a rivalry game written all over it. Denver running back, Melvin Gordon hosts his former team in a pivotal division game. The Broncos revamped their entire offense this offseason, so the Chargers defense will have a challenge in this one.
Week 12: Nov. 29 at Buffalo Bills
Snowy away games in Buffalo are tough for any team to play in. But, both sides will be fighting for the playoffs, so the Chargers must step up and win this game.
Week 13: Dec. 6 vs New England Patriots
If it were last season, the Chargers would have marked this game as a loss from the start due to Phillip Rivers’ struggles versus the Tom Brady-led Patriots. Now, with both quarterbacks on new teams, this is anyone’s game. The Chargers shouldn’t overlook the Pats as long as Bill Belichick is at head coach.
Week 14: Dec. 13 vs Atlanta Falcons
This is the final showdown with NFC South teams for the Chargers. The Falcons won’t be in playoff contention with the Saints and Buccaneers in their division, but they still could put up a fight.
Week 15: Dec. 17 at Oakland Raiders
The second meeting between these two comes with a lot of playoff implications. The winner of this game could take the second seed in the AFC West.
Week 16: Dec. 26/27 vs Denver Broncos
Similarly to the previous game against the Raiders, the Chargers must win this division game, especially with the Chiefs looming in week 17. This game will be played on either Saturday or Sunday with the time TBD as well.
Week 17: Jan. 3 at Kansas City Chiefs
Everyone will mark this down as an easy Kansas City victory. However, if the Chiefs have clinched the one seed in the AFC by this point, they will probably bench their starters. In that case, the Chargers can end their season with three straight division wins.
The NFL released the schedules for the 2020-2021 season late Thursday night, allowing experts to calculate each team’s schedule difficulty. The Chargers came in at 23rd. While their defense has the chance to be one of the best in the league, the Bolts offense might struggle with a rookie under center.
To me, there are three critical stretches for the Chargers this season. First, weeks two through five will test the Bolts’ ability to beat the best teams in the league, as they play the Buccaneers, Saints, and Chiefs. Second, immediately following their bye week, the Chargers face three ‘must-win’ games against the Broncos, Bills, and Patriots since all will be fighting for the playoffs. Third, the final three games of the season feature all three division rivals. Winning at least two of these can push the Bolts into the playoffs.
The Kansas City Chiefs will definitely win the AFC West division, so the Chargers will need a solid record to make the playoffs. If they can figure out their problems at quarterback, I see them ending the season with a 9-7 record, enough to get into the postseason as a six or seven seed.