Since April is usually the best time to predict what’s going to happen during an NFL season, now that the Chargers schedule has been released it makes perfect sense to go game-by-game and find out just how the 2015 season will unfold.
Remember, last year we were all pretty sure the Bolts needed to have at least seven wins in their first 11 games, then go 3-2 through the gauntlet that was their final five games. They did the former, but finished 2-3 when just one more win would have put them in the playoffs.
So, obviously this IS an exact science and you can take the following prognostication to Las Vegas (but I reserve the right to claim 30-percent of all winnings while not being responsible in any capacity for any losses). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a glimpse in to the future:
WEEK 1 vs. Lions
Detroit’s rebuilt defensive line is no match for San Diego’s rebuilt offensive line, mostly because the Chargers unit actually gets better. Haloti Ngata is amazing but he’s no Ndamukong Suh. The Chargers debut new running back Tevin Coleman, who goes for 92 yards and a touchdown, and the Bolts narrowly absorb a giant day from Megatron to win a shootout.
Final Score: Chargers 34, Lions 31 (San Diego 1-0)
WEEK 2 at Bengals
Cincinnati is always a complete question mark early in the season. They have the ability to beat the 1985 Bears, or lose to the 2008 Lions. Cincy is playing its first game at home (in an interesting scheduling anomaly, this will be the 6th straight season Cincinnati’s first game is a road game). The Bengals have won four of their last five home openers, including the last three. As much as I don’t like Andy Dalton’s ability to win a game against a top-tier quarterback, the Bengals win a scrapper.
Final Score: Bengals 24, Chargers 20 (San Diego 1-1)
WEEK 3 at Vikings
The last time the Chargers played a game in Minnesota, running back Adrian Peterson ran for an NFL-record 296 yards. This time, the Bolts have no idea if they’ll be facing A.D., but they do know they’ll be running up against former their head coach and current Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Need I say more?
Final Score: Chargers 27, Vikings 18 (San Diego 2-1)
WEEK 4 vs. Browns
It doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback for Cleveland (and whoever that is, new QB coach Kevin O’Connell is going to help the Browns passing attack this year), they’re not going to score many points in 2015. However, they’re also not going to allow many points either. It won’t be pretty but the Bolts will secure a winning record in the first quarter of the season.
Final Score: Chargers 23, Browns 13 (San Diego 3-1)
WEEK 5 vs. Steelers (MNF)
Pittsburgh in San Diego is always a fun time. Putting it in prime time just ratchets up the intensity. The last time the Steelers came to town was in 2006 in another game played under the lights. That night Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes, one to Antonio Gates and one to Malcom Floyd. Why not run that one back, especially since future Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu won’t be around to wreck the Chargers game plan.
Final Score: Chargers 26, Steelers 24 (San Diego 4-1)
WEEK 6 at Packers
The Bolts head to Lambeau Field on a roll, feeling really good about themselves. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t care. He does not lose at home. Over the last two years, Green Bay has lost two times in Wisconsin. The last time Rodgers threw an interception at home was on December 2nd. Of 2012. Since then he’s thrown 36 touchdowns and zero picks. That’s not going to change this week.
Final Score: Packers 41, Chargers 31 (San Diego 4-2)
WEEK 7 vs. Raiders
Finally, seven weeks in, the Bolts see their first division opponent. Oakland is improving, there is no denying that. But they have such a huge gap to bridge; it’s going to take some time. In the type of game that’s become typical in this rivalry, the Chargers get a couple of scores, kick a couple of field goals, and hold on for dear life against a game Raiders club.
Final Score: Chargers 18, Raiders 16 (San Diego 5-2)
WEEK 8 at Ravens
These two played one of the most entertaining games of the 2014 season in November, with the Chargers winning by a point. Philip Rivers led a second half comeback that was so impressive, former Ravens WR/KR Jacoby Jones talked about it at his introductory press conference in San Diego. This will be an interesting season in Baltimore with several new pieces in place. It’s always come together under John Harbaugh, and there’s no reason to expect that to change in 2015. Going back to 2006, the Chargers have played the Ravens six times with this pattern: L, W, L, W, L, W. It’s Baltimore’s turn.
Final Score: Ravens 30, Chargers 24 (San Diego 5-3)
WEEK 9 vs. Bears (MNF)
Jay Cutler is a disaster. I’m going to go ahead and assume he’ll still be Chicago’s starting QB by Week 9 but who really knows? New head coach John Fox will have the Bears playing much better than they have in recent years, but the discrepancy is too great for them to really contend in this game. The Chargers win another prime time matchup against a team with a rich history thanks to Philip Rivers (yes, I’m assuming he’ll still be in San Diego, too) outguns Cutler, one of his best friends in football (that is sarcasm).
Final Score: Chargers 37, Bears 24 (San Diego 6-3)
WEEK 10 BYE
The Bolts get to take a week off and have all of us media folks ask the same questions we’ve been asking for the last 10 years.
Final Count On Us Asking “Does The Bye Week Come At A Good Time?”: 73 (San Diego Media 0-1)
WEEK 11 vs. Chiefs (NBC’s Sunday Night Football)
Perhaps feeling they’ll never have a chance to do a game in San Diego again, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth make their pilgrimage to Mission Valley to regale us all with tales of just how big a dump Qualcomm Stadium is. In between the stories, they’ll talk about a game between two teams who have played some awfully entertaining games in recent years. Kansas City won both last year. San Diego won both in 2013. This year, with the Bolts’ improved running game, they’ll be able to take a close, hard-hitting affair.
Final Score: Chargers 23, Chiefs 21 (San Diego 7-3)
WEEK 12 at Jaguars
Blake Bortles made his first career NFL start last year against the Chargers in San Diego. He made enough plays to give Jacksonville fans hope for the future, but that future is not now. The Jags are still a far inferior opponent and while the Bolts have been known to give away winnable games like this, it’s not going to happen this time.
Final Score: Chargers 26, Jaguars 20 (San Diego 8-3)
WEEK 13 vs. Broncos
Here’s where the fun begins. The Chargers play four of their last five games against division opponents, with two of them against the 4-time defending AFC West champions from Denver. New Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak has always been good at working with quarterbacks. He put Matt Schaub in the Pro Bowl and won a playoff game with TJ Yates. Oh, he was also the 49ers quarterbacks coach when Steve Young threw six touchdown passes in the Super Bowl. When he called plays for John Elway, Denver won a pair of Super Bowls. Now he’s going to be calling them for Peyton Manning. The difference is, this time he doesn’t have a running back like Terrell Davis to carry the load. The Bolts have not beaten the Broncos at home since 2010. That skid finally ends.
Final Score: Chargers 27, Broncos 23 (San Diego 9-3)
WEEK 14 at Chiefs
The NFL is really starting to like putting the Bolts at Arrowhead late in the season. This makes three straight years the trip will come after Thanksgiving. On the same field where the 2014 Chargers season ended, the Bolts have trouble stopping Jamaal Charles and getting off the field, suffering another setback. However, this one doesn’t have the same impact as 2014.
Final Score: Chiefs 26, Chargers 17 (San Diego 9-4)
WEEK 15 vs. Dolphins
San Diego’s final home game of the year comes against a team that has had their number recently. A year ago in Miami, the Dolphins embarrassed the Chargers in a 37-nothing whuppin’. This time the Dolphins come to San Diego with Ndamukong Suh in tow. This is usually a bad matchup for the Bolts, but this is also the time of year when Joe Philbin’s teams start to fall apart. Advantage: San Diego. Kicker Nick Novak drills five field goals, including a game-winning 54 yarder on the game’s final play, to push the Bolts to a perfect home record.
Final Score: Chargers 22, Dolphins 20 (San Diego 10-4)
WEEK 16 at Raiders (TNF)
Strange things tend to happen when the Chargers and Raiders play in Oakland at night. Remember a couple of years ago, in 2013, when an afternoon game was pushed to Sunday night because of an A’s playoff series, Terrelle Pryor looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback, and the Bolts inexplicably lost? Or the year before when they opened on a Monday Night and All-Planet punter Shane Lechler had a punt blocked for the first time in six years? Expect something nutty like that again the time around. In fact, expect Corey Liuget to sack Derek Carr in the end zone for the game’s only points.
Final Score: Chargers 2, Raiders 0 (San Diego 11-4)
WEEK 17 at Denver
Both the Chargers and Broncos will have their playoff spots locked up, but the division will be up for grabs in the final game of the year so there will be none of that old resting your entire first unit nonsense. Manning’s offensive line, which is not as good as it’s been in recent years, can’t protect the aging passer as well as he needs and the Bolts win another close one to secure the AFC West Championship for the first time since 2009.
Final Score: Chargers 23, Broncos 20 (San Diego 12-4)
Break out your bolo ties and get ready for another home game at The Q. This is going to be a wild ride.