The Chargers have offensive talent but their entire organization is shrouded by question marks, making them one of the more speculative plays in futures markets
San Diego scattered just four wins throughout the 2015 season, each one coming against a losing team and feeling more meaningless as time went on. Books are suggesting it was a one-off, making the Chargers this year’s “Most Expected AFC Team to Improve” with a win total that’s ‘3.0’ greater than the team’s 4-12 record. A 9.9-win average from 2003-2014 says lightning could strike but there is an uneasy feeling about this team’s future, making an “Over” play feel risky.
LAST YEAR’S RECORD & 2016 NFL FUTURES
Win-Loss: 4-12 SU and 8-8 ATS
Over/Under: 6-9-1 O/U
Noteworthy: Only 43-percent of NFL teams the past 20 years have posted winning records following a season where they averaged fewer than 3.8 rushing yards per carry.
Ken Whisenhunt was hired to run the offense and since becoming a head coach in 2007, Whiz’s run game has only ranked inside the top 24 once. That was in 2013, his first tour as O-Co with Phil Rivers and the Chargers (13th). San Diego was 4th/5th in passing yards/TDs that season and the ground game was a nice compliment. The key component was an O-Line ranked 3rd in run blocking and 8th in pass protection, but the Chargers won’t come close to those numbers in 2016.
In 2014-15, San Diego ranked 31st in run blocking and 17th/11th in pass protection. Their O-Line gave up 76 sacks (16th most) and they’ve done little to improve the front. Whiz doesn’t make O-Lines better; in fact he could make them worse. The Titans ranked 17/26 and 20/32 in key O-Line stats the past two seasons, giving up 54 sacks in 2015 (worst in the league).
Whiz was only there for 23 games (3-20 SU) and he did have a rookie QB (Mariota), but with the group they’ve assembled in San Diego it’s hard to see the Charger run blocking unit show any improvement. The Bolts were dead last in rushing yards per carry last season with 3.5.
Rivers has a new weapon with WR Travis Benjamin and he’ll also get Keenan Allen back. TE Antonio Gates is a nice red zone threat and we’ll all wait to see if Melvin Gordon can figure things out. Joey Bosa boosts the D-side but the Chargers play 10 games this year vs. teams that averaged more than 30 minutes of possession (seven on the road). If the defense wears down and San Diego falls behind, it makes their playcalling that much more predictable.
CHARGERS BOTTOM LINE: GET IN & GET OUT
Despite ranking 25th in scoring (20 PPG), the Chargers were 7th in the red zone last year, converting 64-percent of their opportunities. Teams that had success converting trips inside the 20 but still finished below .500 SU are a good play in the first month of the season, especially when favored (20-5 SU and 18-7 ATS).
In Week 4, the Chargers are hosting a Saints team that’s 13-19 SU/ATS on the road the past four years. Laying no more than a field goal, this could be a rare spot to consider the Bolts as chalk.