How Seriously Should We Take The Chargers As Super Bowl Contenders?

The Los Angeles Chargers had a very productive offseason adding key players in free agency and the Draft. But are they Super Bowl contenders?

Staff
The Los Angeles Chargers Take On The New York Giants At SoFi Stadium. Photo Credit: Ryan Dyrud | LAFB Network
The Los Angeles Chargers Take On The New York Giants At SoFi Stadium. Photo Credit: Ryan Dyrud | LAFB Network

After finishing 9-8 in 2021, the Los Angeles Chargers have been busy revamping their roster. JC Jackson and Khalil Mack arrived, cementing the Chargers as an inner-circle Super Bowl contender.

Ahead of the 2023 season the current Los Angeles Chargers NFL betting odds show they are among the favorites to win it all with a price of +1600 to lift the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs and Bills are the only AFC teams with shorter odds to reach the Super Bowl. Expectations are sky-high for Los Angeles, and their high-profile additions on defense should transform a group that ranked 24th in defensive points added last season.

On the other side of the ball, it’s no secret that the Chargers are a force to be reckoned with. Justin Herbert is one of the best quarterbacks in the sport, and building around an elite talent like Herbert while on his rookie deal should be relatively straightforward. Austin Ekeler is coming off a big 2021 campaign, and Keenan Allen is among the best receivers around. Los Angeles was fifth in total points last season.

Brandon Staley was criticized in some quarters last season, but Staley thinks outside the box and has made the Chargers into an entertaining team to watch. His decision-making isn’t always perfect, though his job should have been made much easier by the acquisitions of Mack and Jackson.

First-round pick Zion Johnson should provide better protection for Herbert. JT Woods further bolsters the secondary, and Isaiah Spiller aids the running back depth chart, ideally easing Ekeler’s workload. Los Angeles entered the draft with clear needs and they efficiently checked those boxes. This has been a successful offseason however you look at it. The Chargers are unquestionably a better, deeper team than they were in 2021.

Being better isn’t necessarily enough to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender, however. Los Angeles is still in a stacked division, facing Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and an improving Las Vegas team. They face the Chiefs on a short week in Week 2 before must-win games against the Texans and Jaguars. The margin for error is tiny with the strength of the AFC West.

Making the postseason is not a foregone conclusion, even if the Chargers have one of the best rosters in the sport on paper. Reaching the playoffs is that much tougher than if they were in the AFC East or South. The divisional games are obviously huge, but it’s also crucial that Los Angeles doesn’t slip up in winnable games elsewhere.

This is an organization which hasn’t been to the AFC Championship Game since 2007. They have made the playoffs just twice in12 years. While this roster is probably the strongest they have had over that span, it is a big call to put them alongside the Bills and Chiefs in that lead group of AFC Super Bowl candidates. The offense should be right up there again, but how much can the defense improve in one season?

The Chargers are probably the third-best team in the AFC. Still, a place in the postseason is far from guaranteed, and they are considerably closer to being fourth than second. They are in the mix, but it’s premature to put them on the same level as Buffalo or Kansas City.