2014 Chargers NFL Handicapping
Rivers, Chargers Ready For Spotlight After Upgrading Defense
The San Diego Chargers returned to the playoffs in 2013 under the first-year tandem of head coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco. Now their fans are hope that can spark a trend rather than be an aberration.
The Chargers added to an already talented roster without suffering any major losses, and that’s reason to believe they can improve on the nine-win total they posted last season.
2014 San Diego Chargers Team Preview/Predictions
- 2013 Record: 9-7
- ATS Record: 9-6-1
2014 Chargers Futures
- Super Bowl Odds: +3500
- Conference Odds: +1400
- AFC West Odds: +550
- 2014 NFL Regular Season Wins: Over 8
McCoy understood from the outset that he had a franchise quarterback in Phillip Rivers and that everyone around him needed to be better. His quick-tempo offense was a perfect fit for rivers as he threw for 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions.
Rivers is confident heading in to his second year with McCoy and should be fine after Frank Reich was promoted to offensive coordinator following Ken Whisenhunt’s decision to take the head coach job in Tennessee. Rivers will welcome back second-year receiver Keenan Allen after those two connected for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns in the latter’s rookie season.
Malcom Floyd has been the MVP of training camp so far and San Diego is confident in Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal to step up if he doesn’t make it back to form.
Look out for rookie seventh-round pick Tevin Reese as a potential sleeper pick to break out if given a chance after he dominated at Baylor these past couple of years. Antonio Gates is no longer an elite tight end but he is still productive and Ladarius Green is ready for a bigger role at the position.
Meanwhile, the Chargers have every reason to be high on running back Ryan Matthews as he enters a contract year after he posted a career-high 1,255 yards and six touchdowns last season.
Second-year pro DJ Fluker is a capable right back that can move around if necessary while center Nick Hardwick is the glue that keeps this line together with King Dunlap once again slotted to start at left tackle.
The concern for San Diego is on the defensive side of the ball where they finished 23rd in total defense and more importantly 29th in pass defense.
The Chargers upgraded their secondary with first-round pick Jason Verrett ready to step in as an immediate starter opposite Shareece Wright and Steve Williams set to add depth after he missed all of last year because of injury.
Eric Weddle and Marcus Gilchrist is a strong safety tandem that will be better with more confidence in the team’s cornerback situation. There is also hope that rookie fifth-round pick Ryan Carrethers can be the massive nose tackle that holds the line together and he will battle Sean Lissemore for snaps next to Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes.
The Chargers hope Dwight Freeney can give them some production on the outside after missing most of last year because of injury and he will start opposite Jarrett Johnson. Rookie second-round pick Jerry Attaochu is another addition that can help the pass rush after setting a Georgia Tech record with 31.5-career sacks.
Donald Butler was re-signed as a massive hitter that can make plays at middle linebacker while second-year pro Manti Te’o is looking to thrive next to him after finishing sixth on the team in tackles but failing to make many big plays.
San Diego upgraded a pass defense that struggled a year ago and is also expected to take another step forward on offense in its second year under McCoy.
The final five weeks of the schedule is loaded with games against Baltimore, New England, Denver, San Francisco, and Kansas City, but if the Chargers can take advantage of a relatively mediocre schedule early on in the season then they should be in position to improve on last year’s record by the time they reach those final few games.
Rivers always seems to play with a chip on his shoulder and this could be the year he puts it all together.
2014 Charger Predictions
- Place they’ll finish in AFC West: 2nd
- Place they’ll finish in AFC Conference: 5th
- Over/Under Wins Prediction: OVER
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