It’s the start of a new era for the Chargers Game.
Philip Rivers has started every game for the organization since the start of the 2006 season, but he will line up under center for the Indianapolis Colts in 2020. That leaves the Chargers, who aren’t that far removed from their 12-4 effort in 2018, relying on the rest of a talented roster and perhaps a rookie quarterback if they are going to win the AFC West for the first time since 2009.
Los Angeles selected Oregon’s Justin Herbert with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2020 NFL draft, and he could eventually take over for Tyrod Taylor even if the veteran starts early on.
Los Angeles Chargers Schedule
- PRE 1, Aug. 13-17: vs Dallas Cowboys (TBD on KCBS)
- PRE 2, Aug. 20-24: vs Los Angeles Rams (TBD on KCBS)
- PRE 3, Aug. 27-30: vs Seattle Seahawks (TBD on KCBS)
- PRE 4, Sept. 3-4: vs San Francisco 49ers (TBD on KCBS)
- Week 1, Sept. 13: vs Bengals (4:05 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Week 2, Sept. 20: vs Chiefs (4:25 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Week 3, Sept. 27: vs Panthers (4:05 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Week 4, Oct. 4: vs Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Week 5, Oct. 12: vs Saints (8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN – Monday Night Football)
- Week 6, Oct. 18: vs Jets (4:05 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Week 7, Oct. 25: vs Dolphins (1 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Week 8, Nov. 1: vs Jaguars (4:05 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Week 9, Nov. 8: vs Raiders (4:05 p.m. ET on FOX)
- Week 10: BYE
- Week 11, Nov. 22: vs Broncos (4:05 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Week 12, Nov. 29: vs Bills (1 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Week 13, Dec. 6: vs Patriots (4:25 p.m. ET on CBS)
- Week 14, Dec. 13: vs Falcons (4:25 p.m. ET on FOX)
- Week 15, Dec. 17: vs Raiders (8:20 p.m. ET on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon – Thursday Night Football)
- Week 16, TBD: vs Broncos
- Week 17, Jan. 3: vs Chiefs (1 p.m. ET on CBS)
There is good news and bad news for the Chargers when it comes to their cross-divisional games this year.
On the one hand, matchups with the AFC East are winnable. The powerhouse New England Patriots, who have run the division for two decades, no longer have Tom Brady. Even though the defense led the way last year, they are not as daunting of a matchup without the future Hall of Famer and six-time champion under center.
Elsewhere, the Buffalo Bills haven’t won a playoff game since the 1995 campaign, the Miami Dolphins are coming off three straight losing seasons, and the New York Jets are coming off four straight losing years.
However, games against the NFC South figure to be much more difficult with some of the scariest offenses in the league lying in wait.
The New Orleans Saints are a recent powerhouse with Drew Brees getting the ball to Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have Brady throwing to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, and the Atlanta Falcons added three-time Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley to an offense already featuring Julio Jones and Matt Ryan.
Even the Carolina Panthers added Teddy Bridgewater, who was 5-0 as a starter last season for the Saints.
Splitting the games against the NFC South and having success against the AFC East may be the Chargers’ best roadmap to success in 2019.
Every division game will be key in the AFC West, but the Chargers need to somehow figure out the Kansas City Chiefs if they are going to challenge for first place.
That is much easier said than done considering Patrick Mahomes is leading the Super Bowl champions, but the Chargers’ poor record against Kansas City goes back farther than the 2018 MVP’s stint.
The Chargers are an ugly 1-11 during the last six years against the Chiefs in a rivalry that has become one-sided of late. While defeating the defending champions in both head-to-head showdowns is likely too much to ask, it is difficult to envision Los Angeles winning the division without at least earning a split.
Games against the Bills and Patriots will also be important for wild-card purposes. Buffalo took one of the AFC’s two wild-card spots last year, and New England could be fighting for those slots if it takes a step back without Brady.
Having the tiebreaker against either with a head-to-head win would be key for the Chargers.