The NFL schedule was released almost a month ago, and the Los Angeles Chargers have a slew of must-watch games. With a new coaching staff and star players returning from injuries, it is unclear how this squad will perform this season. That said, the Bolts prove to be a legitimate contender to topple the behemoths of the rapidly-improving AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here are just a few of the games to watch for the Los Angeles Chargers’ 2021 schedule.
Week 1: Los Angeles Chargers at Washington Football Team – The OROY vs. DROY Extravaganza
Starting the season off with a bang, the Chargers travel to Washington, DC to face off against the hosting Washington Football Team. Both teams, though they had losing records last season, showed flashes of their latent talent towards the end of the season, spearheaded by their electrifying star rookies.
The Chargers, boasting the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year at quarterback Justin Herbert, will face off with their potent passing game against one of the most talented young defensive units in the NFL, led by the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young. It should be exciting to watch these two gifted athletes start off their sophomore years.
Another matchup to watch involves the Chargers’ 2021 first round pick, left tackle Rashawn Slater. Slater is expected to be plugged in as the starter from day one, directly across from Young. This matchup will be interesting because Slater and Young have some history. In 2019, Slater and Young faced off in college in a matchup between Northwestern and Ohio State. Slater completely shut Young down, when no one else in college football seemed to be able to do so. The question is: will Slater be able to recreate their 2019 matchup, or will Young’s experience in the NFL last year prove to give him the edge?
Week 13: Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals – The Sophomore Slingers Face Off
The Chargers’s Week 13 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals features two hotshot sophomore Quarterbacks aiming to improve on their impressive rookie seasons. Justin Herbert is coming off one of the most impressive rookie Quarterback seasons in NFL history, breaking or tying numerous rookie passing records. Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, quarterback Joe Burrow lived up to his pre-draft hype before going down with a brutal knee injury in Week 11 last season. The two slingers were in a heated battle for Offensive Rookie of the Year before Burrow’s injury.
The Week 13 matchup will be the first time these rivals face off. The Chargers and Bengals started off their 2020 seasons against each other, but the starting Quarterback gig for the Chargers was held by Tyrod Taylor for that matchup. Barring any potential injuries, it will be intriguing to see who comes out on top in this slingfest.
Week 15: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers – A Thursday Night Throwdown
Week 15 kicks off with a Thursday Night Football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. With the NFL playoffs on the horizon, both of these teams will be more determined than ever to win this divisional matchup. The Chiefs, who will likely be playing for a higher seed in the playoffs, will be battling the Chargers, who will likely be fighting to slide into the playoffs as a Wild Card team.
But for Chargers fans, the Chiefs-Chargers rivalry runs deeper than that. The Chiefs have lorded over the AFC West for years, and Chargers fans are desperate for a change. This matchup is much like a David vs. Goliath situation. The Chiefs, who already had the edge on their whole division, somehow managed to improve in the offseason. With the signings of guard Joe Thuney and tackle Kyle Long, as well as the trade for tackle Orlando Brown, the Chiefs offensive line is now an impenetrable wall for their superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Will the Chargers’ defensive line unit be able to break through that wall?
The 2021 season for the Los Angeles Chargers will be an important season for the entire franchise. With Brandon Staley taking over as head coach, this season will be imperative for setting the tone for his tenure with the team. Justin Herbert will also be under a lot of pressure to perform and avoid the notorious “sophomore slump”. Star safety Derwin James is returning from a knee injury that saw him miss the entire 2020 season, so the question remains whether he will be able to stay healthy in 2021.
With that said, the future looks bright for the Chargers. The team is bursting with young talent, and NFL analysts have been singing praises for Staley so far. With an average opponent win percentage of .493, the Chargers were also gifted with a fairly low strength of schedule. If injuries don’t yet again become an issue, the Chargers are looking at a possible 10-7, even 11-6 record.
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