Chargers Schedule Release: In-Depth Analysis
The final piece of the offseason puzzle arrived yesterday evening: the 2022 Chargers schedule has finally been released. By now I’m sure you’ve combed through it and planned some potential trips and circled potential games that you are concerned about or really excited about. I wanted to dive into all of it here.
I’m a little surprised at the time this game will be played, but it’s only right that the Chargers get their shot at revenge against the Raiders right out of the gate. I’m sure Brandon Staley and the rest of the Chargers team are salivating at the opportunity they’ll have to start the season in such a high-stakes matchup.
Raiders week is always such a unique game, as this is one of the NFL’s last true rivalries. Then you add in what both of these teams added in the offseason, and I think this could easily be the best on-paper matchup the two teams have had in quite some time. Josh McDaniels vs Staley, Khalil Mack debuting as a Charger against his old team, J.C. Jackson shadowing Davante Adams, Rashawn Slater matching up with Chandler Jones, and of course Derwin James covering Darren Waller. This game has so many great storylines to look forward to.
I am definitely not discounting the Raiders by any means, but given the offseason additions and revenge factor, I would be very surprised if the Chargers lost this game. The only thing left to do is to ensure that the stadium is FULL of powder blue, and not silver and black.
Significant Presence In Primetime
The Chargers will be making a triumphant return of sorts to the primetime stage, as they received the maximum possible FIVE primetime games this season – the most they’ve had since moving to Los Angeles. They will get the first Amazon Prime Thursday Night Football game in Kansas City for week two, Monday Night Football against the Broncos in week six, Sunday Night Football in San Francisco for week 10, Monday Night Football in Indianapolis for week 16, and then Sunday Night Football against the Rams in week 17.
This is a strong indication of how the league views them and the entertainment value they bring with all the star power on the roster and an aggressive/new-age head coach. It also shows how much the team has grown specifically over the last three years when they had just two primetime games in Justin Herbert’s rookie season. He, of course, is one of the big national draws to the team and he has been downright dominant in the six games he’s played on primetime games so far in his career – Primetime Herbert is a very real thing. Because of that, the Chargers will have a chance to win all five of these matchups.
The Chargers get their bye in week eight and then travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons in week 9. If the Chargers are going to be true contenders this year, then they have to enter week 10 with at least six wins. If they come out of Atlanta with a 5-3 record, it’s going to be difficult to see them being anything more than a 7 seed because every game after the Falcons is against a good team.
The toughest stretch for me is weeks 10-14 when the Chargers will travel to San Francisco for Sunday Night Football against the 49ers, host the Chiefs for the 2022 rematch, and travel to Arizona (after DeAndre Hopkins will return from his suspension), and then travel to Las Vegas for a rematch with the aforementioned Raiders.
Staley has said from day one that they want to be viewed as a trench team, and he’s put his money where his mouth is with all the investments they’ve made in the offensive and defensive lines the last two offseasons. That matchup with the 49ers will be the ultimate measuring stick in that regard because they are absolutely the standard when it comes to trench play in the NFL. Their rushing attack, which will (theoretically) also get to use Trey Lance’s legs and Anthony Lynn’s brain to fortify that aspect of their offense even further, and front seven on defense are arguably the best units in the league at any given moment. The Chargers should be much improved against the run and in pass protection with the additions they’ve made this offseason. Still, if there’s any game where I think you could pencil in a Chargers L right now, it would be that one.
Potential Trap Game
The Chargers get most of their matchups with bad teams early in the season, and of course, anybody can be beaten on any given Sunday but I just can’t see this Chargers team losing to the likes of the Jaguars, Texans, or Falcons after having this kind of offseason.
So while they don’t necessarily qualify as a typical trap game, I think the Dolphins could be a team that fans will overlook because of the whole Tua vs Herbert thing. I don’t know if they did enough in Mike McDaniel’s first offseason to become a playoff team, but there’s no question that they drastically improved on offense this year. Tyreek Hill, Terron Armstead, Cedrick Wilson, Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Connor Williams is one heck of a free agency haul.
The Chargers obviously have the talent to beat anybody at any time, but this Dolphins team almost has prime Golden State Warriors vibes to me where you just never know when Hill, Wilson, and Jaylen Waddle will completely detonate on a team.
Division Games To Keep An Eye On
The Chiefs will have a lot of new pieces to integrate into their team, on both sides of the ball. And their opening schedule is very difficult on paper. In between the time they play the Chargers, and Raiders in weeks two and five, they’ll play the Colts, and Buccaneers, and then play the Bills and 49ers in weeks six and seven. They got out to a slow start last season, and that could easily happen again with the Raiders game potentially being the swing point of their season, yes even that early.
A lot of Chargers fans complained about the Broncos having an easy opening schedule but their last six games are an absolute gauntlet. They travel to Baltimore in week 13, then play the Chiefs twice in four weeks, host the Cardinals, and play at the Rams on Christmas Day, before closing out the season with the Chargers in week 18. If the Broncos are going to be as good as the media thinks they’ll be, they will have to earn it.
Initial Record Prediction
Ultimately, I like this schedule a lot for the Chargers. The opening is favorable, and the bye week happens in an ideal spot. This will allow them to work out the kinks with all the new additions and then make the necessary adjustments for the home stretch just like they did with the red zone offense last year. I believe the ceiling of this team is immensely high, like #1 seed in the AFC high. The AFC West going nuclear and the matchup with the NFC West will make it difficult to reach, but it’s there. For now, I’m rolling with a prediction of 12-5 and a division title. That’s right, the Bolts will be AFC West champs again for the first time since 2009. Book it.