As part of our 2023 NFL Preseason Preview Series, we look at the current state of each team in an attempt to identify reasons for optimism and causes for concern and, most importantly, what can be exploited in the current betting marketplace.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
The Chargers were decimated with injuries last season to key players. Justin Herbert suffered torn rib cartilage in Week 2 and wasn’t the same. WR Keenan Allen, LT Rashawn Slater, EDGE Joey Bosa, and CB JC Jackson all missed time. Even with those injuries, they managed to hold a 27-7 halftime lead in the Wild Card round before losing to the Jaguars in heartbreaking fashion. The Chargers have the talent, the quarterback and now bring in an offensive coordinator in Kellen Moore who should unlock Justin Herbert and the offense. If this team can stay healthy, they have all the components necessary for a deep playoff run.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: CAUSE FOR CONCERN
Last season, Los Angeles went 1-5 against teams with a winning record, which is bad news for a team stepping up majorly in strength of schedule. The Chargers have a top-5 most difficult schedule and the 6th-worst net rest advantage. They didn’t make any major roster changes this offseason despite being league-average at best on both sides of the ball. Head Coach Brandon Staley resorted to more traditional, conservative play calling, which is antithetical to his aggressive, analytics-driven style in previous years. Injuries derailed this team last season and certainly could be the case again. Even if the injury luck were to swing in their favor, their schedule and rest edge is going to make things very difficult for LAC.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: BETTING OPPORTUNITIES
The Chargers performed worse than their record suggests last year. With a more difficult schedule, they could be better this year and still not hit their win total. With Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi out and Kellen Moore in, I am bullish on Justin Herbert. He showed his fortitude by playing through major injuries last season and still willed this decimated team to 10 wins. With a healthy receiving corps combined with his arm talent and the anticipated uptempo playcalling, there is a case to be made for Herbert's MVP candidacy. After a year in which he disappointed, I’ll jump back on the Herbert MVP bandwagon.
Best Bet: Justin Herbert MVP 15-1
(Play to 12-1)