July 22, 2014

Free NFL Pick: 2014 San Diego Chargers Team Preview & Win Total Pick

The expectations were very low for the 2013 San Diego Chargers. Phillip Rivers was coming off his worst season and the team appeared short on weapons. All the Chargers did was surprise everyone by not only making it to the playoffs, but winning a game on the road in Cincinnati before bowing out against Denver.

Ken Whisenhunt really helped revive the Chargers offense last season. Whisenhunt is now the head coach in Tennessee, so Rivers and the Chargers offense will have to do it without him in 2014. San Diego’s offense finished fifth in the league in total offense last year. The defense was a bend but don’t break defense. That can be dangerous to try to repeat, so the Chargers will need to get a little better on that side of the ball this year.

chargersSince they are in the same division as the Broncos as well as the upstart Chiefs, winning is no easy task for the Chargers. There’s no free lunch here, and this time around the Chargers aren’t going to catch people off guard.

2014 San Diego Chargers Offense

Phillip Rivers had an amazing bounce back season last year. Rivers proved the doubters wrong by throwing for 32 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. After two straight seasons with a quarterback rating at 88.7 and 88.6, Rivers put up an impressive QB rating of 105.5, which matched the best of his career. Rivers is a gamer, and he battles hard for everything. It seems like Rivers is at his best when people are counting him out.

Ryan Matthews finally stayed healthy in 2013. The Chargers got a full season of Matthews, and he started to show a bit of why the team drafted him so early. He ran for 1,255 yards and did his best work late in the season in key games. Danny Woodhead was a great third down back for the team, and he became a great safety valve for Rivers on passing plays. Woodhead had an amazing 76 catches last season, and he made a lot of fantasy football owners happy.

Keenan Allen’s rookie season was a special one. Allen developed a nice relationship with Rivers, and his numbers were terrific down the stretch. I think Allen is one of the top 15 or 20 receivers in the league. Between Antonio Gates and LaDarius Green, the Chargers have two good pass catching tight ends.

San Diego’s offensive line held it together fairly well last year, but this is probably the weakest unit on the offense. Don’t be surprised if they take a step back this season.

2014 San Diego Chargers Defense

The Chargers were 23rd in the league in total defense, but they were 11th in the NFL in points per game allowed. They forced turnovers at pivotal points in many games, and did a good job keeping opponents out of the end zone.

Corey Liuget has become a real force on the defensive line, and he commands double teams much of the time. Manti Te’o had an up and down season in his rookie year, but he should be a solid  contributor moving forward. Dwight Freeney was brought in during the offseason to try to provide an extra pass rushing presence. The Chargers need to get after the passer, because their cornerbacks aren’t good enough in one on one coverage.

The secondary is the clear weakness of this defense. Wright and Verrett will likely start at the two corner spots, and there isn’t much depth behind them either. Eric Weddle is a solid free safety, but the strong safety spot is another question mark. San Diego was awfully vulnerable against good passing attacks last year, and I don’t think that will change in 2014.

2014 San Diego Chargers Schedule

Week 1- @Arizona

Week 2- Seattle

Week 3- @Buffalo

Week 4- Jacksonville

Week 5- New York Jets

Week 6- @Oakland

Week 7- Kansas City

Week 8- @Denver

Week 9- @Miami

Week 10- BYE

Week 11- Oakland

Week 12- St. Louis

Week 13- @Baltimore

Week 14- New England

Week 15- Denver

Week 16- @San Francisco

Week 17- @Kansas City

The last few weeks of this schedule are downright brutal. If San Diego is going to get back to the playoffs, they better go into week 13 with an impressive record.

2014 San Diego Chargers Win Total Free Pick: Under 8

I’m looking for some regression from the San Diego Chargers this year. Whisenhunt leaving is definitely a bad thing for the offense, so I expect a couple steps backward for them. More importantly, I don’t expect the defense to be as fortunate as they were last year. The Chargers lack game changing play makers on the defensive end, and they aren’t likely to be able to keep up their bend but don’t break defense an entire season again. The schedule is tough as well, so I like the under.

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