Los Angeles Chargers preview 2023: Over or under 9.5 wins? Chances to claim AFC West title?

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws to wide receiver Mike Williams (81) during the NFL football team's training camp, Saturday, July 29, 2023, in Costa Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

It’s NFL team preview time, and today we’re looking at the Chargers. Each Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from July 25 through Sept. 8, we will take an in-depth look at each team in the NFL with a 7- to 10-minute video going through impactful additions and departures, last year’s rankings and strength of schedule in 2023.

Home Field Sports analyst Jim Derry will then make a prediction on the team’s record this season and where they will finish in their respective division, along with the over/under win total, as posted at Caesars Sportsbook.

These stories are a brief summary of the accompanied preview videos – powered by the Dattitude Podcast (which will review each division every Friday until the season begins). The schedule for when each team will run is listed below with a link to each story and video that already has run.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Coach: Brandon Staley (3rd season)

2022 record: 10-7, 2nd in AFC West; lost to Jacksonville, 31-30, in wild card round.

Last season in a nutshell: The final 34 minutes and 25 seconds is the only nutshell you need to know about this team.

A 27-0 lead over Jacksonville in an AFC wild-card game and a chance to get that bugaboo off their shoulders with what would have been their first playoff victory since 2018 and only second in nine years. However, we all know what happened in the final minutes of the first half and throughout the second – losing on a Riley Patterson 36-yard field goal as time expired.

As one might expect, there were a few changes in the offseason, including the promotion of defensive assistant Derrick Ansley (41 years old) to coordinator in place of Renaldo Hill. There’s a new linebackers coach, a new defensive quality control coach and a new quarterbacks coach in the form of Doug Nussmeier.

But it wasn’t just the Jacksonville game. They lost both games against the Chiefs by exactly three points in each, and now have dropped 15 of the past 18 games against their AFC West rival.

The Bolts were able to beat all the teams they were supposed to beat (except a weird game against the Raiders at the beginning of December and the regular-season finale at Denver that didn’t mean anything), but they couldn’t beat some of the better teams on their schedule with their three other losses coming at the hands of the Jaguars, Seahawks and 49ers.

Can they change that this year and win games they’ll be underdogs heading into?

2023 bye week: 5

2023 Draft: 1 (21st overall) WR Quentin Johnston, TCU; 2 (54) DE Tuli Tuipulotu, USC; 3 (85) LB Daiyan Henley, Washington State; 4 (125) WR Derius Davis, TCU; 5 (156) T Jordan McFadden, Clemson; 6 (200) DE Scott Matlock, Boise State; 7 (239) QB Max Duggan, TCU.

Free-agent signings: ILB Eric Kendricks (from Minnesota), 2 years, $13.25M; DT Nick Williams (from NY Giants), 1 year, $1.23M.

What needs to go right: While the Chargers made plenty of changes in their coaching staff, they did almost nothing in free agency. They had a nice draft, but they essentially are going all in with the players they couldn’t finish with last year (and the year before that).

On offense, Justin Herbert has been great statistically, and he was only 261 passing yards shy of 5,000 on the season. However, LA did not throw for 300 yards in their final five games (including the playoffs), and nearly all of his big games came in the first half of the season.

He has a fantastic receiving corps when they are healthy, and for them to take the next step and win this division, they will HAVE to stay healthy. Can you count on Keenan Allen and Mike Williams to do that? Rookie Quentin Johnston is a nice addition, but you certainly don’t want to elevate him to No. 2 (or No. 1) status until 2024 or beyond.

Austin Ekeler was one of the top receiving running backs in the NFL (722 yards and five touchdowns), but he rushed for only 915 yards. That number has to be higher, although it was nice to see him healthy for a second consecutive full season.

On defense, they must improve from the 20th-ranked unit in the league, and more specifically, they need to find a way to stop the run (28th last season). That will require the likes of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack to be as good against the run as they are against the pass.

Key moments in video:

0:00 Los Angeles Chargers preview

1:40 Last season in a nutshell

2:18 Brandon Staley / Analytics

3:31 Justin Herbert

4:08 30th in rushing

4:48 Allen / Williams health issues

5:32 Drafting Quentin Johnston

6:07 Few changes on defense

7:01 Breaking down schedule

8:48 Final predictions

PREVIEW SCHEDULE / LINKS

AFC SOUTH

July 25: Houston Texans

July 26: Indianapolis Colts

July 27: Jacksonville Jaguars

July 28: Tennessee Titans

NFC WEST

Aug. 1: Arizona Cardinals

Aug. 2: Los Angeles Rams

Aug. 3: San Francisco 49ers

Aug. 4: Seattle Seahawks

AFC WEST

Aug. 8: Denver Broncos

Aug. 9: Kansas City Chiefs

Aug. 10: Las Vegas Raiders

Aug. 11: Los Angeles Chargers

NFC EAST

Aug. 15: Dallas Cowboys

Aug. 16: New York Giants

Aug. 17: Philadelphia Eagles

Aug. 18: Washington Commanders

AFC EAST

Aug. 22: Buffalo Bills

Aug. 23: Miami Dolphins

Aug. 24: New England Patriots

Aug. 25: New York Jets

NFC NORTH

Aug. 29: Chicago Bears

Aug. 29: Detroit Lions

Aug. 30: Green Bay Packers

Aug. 30: Minnesota Vikings

AFC NORTH

Aug. 31: Baltimore Ravens

Aug. 31: Cincinnati Bengals

Sept. 1: Cleveland Browns

Sept. 2: Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC SOUTH

Sept. 5: Atlanta Falcons

Sept. 6: Carolina Panthers

Sept. 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sept. 8: New Orleans Saints

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