The Chargers were on the brink of reaching the playoffs last season, but fell short in a Week 18 overtime loss to the Raiders that left them looking outside.
Six months later and the Chargers look vastly different than they did last season. They will not only enter the 2022 season with the expectation of the playoffs, but they will carry with them ambitions to get through the playoffs and contend for a Super Bowl.
It’s a tall order to ask a team that just missed out on the playoffs a season ago to make a strong push for the NFL’s biggest stage and presumably hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but this roster is capable of just that.
In fact, Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated has named the Chargers as a turnaround candidate who is most likely to reach the playoffs.
Orr wrote the following:
“In missing the playoffs in 2021, the Chargers were among the best offensive teams in football, ranking in the top 10 in almost every major offensive efficiency category. In Brandon Staley’s first year as coach, his red zone scoring percentage rose by nearly 10 points. It’s safe to say they were held back defensively by a unit that, for one reason or another, stuck in its base defense far too often (almost a quarter of all snaps) and hammered by the increasingly popular outside-zone running scheme. Sports Info Solutions had the Chargers as the second-worst team in the EPA / play when facing the zone. The more heft up front, the better linebackers, the better corners and the more diverse rushing game that should complement their quarterback, the Chargers feel like a lock to reach the playoffs coming from an AFC West division that will almost. There are definitely three teams in the field. “
2021 record: 9–8, third in AFC West
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Key additions: JC Jackson, Khalil Mack, Kyle Van Noy, Austin Johnson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Bryce Callahan, Gerald Everett, Zion Johnson, Isaiah Spiller
The outlook of the AFC West appears to be the toughest division in football. But with three Wild Card spots for the taking, there could be multiple teams from the AFC West who each clinch a playoff berth.
Just last season the NFC West saw three teams reach the playoffs, and according to the oddsmakers’ season win totals, they have each team in the AFC West with 9.5 wins or more, indicating just how competitive it will be presumably.
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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of the Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.
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