Los Angeles Chargers Stuck in AFC Mid-Tier? NFL Analyst Checks Offseason Hope

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There was a jolt of optimism injected into the Los Angeles Chargers fan base when they hired Jim Harbaugh as head coach. The man who orchestrated the turnaround of the San Francisco 49ers and the Michigan Wolverines was in the position to do the same for the Chargers. At that point, the question wasn’t if they would make the playoffs, but who would they be facing in the Super Bowl

Then they had to get out of salary cap hell by sacrificing their three top offensive weapons. Mike Williams was cut, Keenan Allen was traded and Austin Ekeler was allowed to walk in free agency.

Now heading into the draft, the Chargers are left with several glaring roster needs, wide receiver, defensive line, and cornerback to name a few.

Los Angeles Chargers Among 6 Teams Competing For 1 Playoff Spot

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers
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So where do the Chargers stack up in the AFC’s Hierarchy? One NFL analyst places them in a group she calls ‘the vast middle class, a tier of six teams that will all be competing for one playoff spot.

In her recent article, AFC Roster Reset: Conference hierarchy heading into 2024 NFL Draft, NFL Network’s Judy Battista ranks the Kansas City Chiefs in a ‘class of their own, labels the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins as ‘in the hunt,’ then the Chargers class, the vast middle class.

In this tier are the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Indianapolis Colts.

Los Angeles Chargers High Hopes and Unknown Answers

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers
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It seems that at the core of Battista’s ranking of the Chargers is the massive upheaval on offense. But teams in the ‘in the hunt’ class have also gone through similar changes. Baltimore and Buffalo have both made sweeping changes to the roster. The big difference is that we have not seen a successful Chargers team under Justin Herbert.

Regardless of how you compare the Chargers to other AFC rosters, they still have work to do to make their team a playoff contender. But the Harbaugh effect isn’t undone by those team needs As Battista puts it,

“Los Angeles has to draft receivers, but the real hope for this team coming off a five-win season is that Harbaugh has historically been a quick turnaround artist.”

Parity in the NFL is by design and the highs and the lows of the Chargers offseason reveal that fact. This puts the Chargers 2024 season back into the proper framing. The hope of Jim Harbaugh is very real, but so is the work that still needs to be done.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers
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