Los Angeles Chargers 2017 Season Recap
It's one thing for a team to be anonymous during a given season. Franchises who find themselves in the mire of mediocrity can be forgotten by the casual fan from time to time. However, what if that same team was rendered irrelevant by its purported host city?
Los Angeles Chargers
2017 Record: 9-7
2016 Record: 5-11
Win Differential: +4
What Happened: The Los Angeles Chargers are pilgrims in a strange land. As they departed from San Diego and await for their new stadium to be built (a cohabitation with the Rams), the Chargers find themselves in a playing venue that is the smallest in a generation. The StubHub Center, primarily the home of Major League Soccer's LA Galaxy, will be the Chargers' home for the next two to three years. The 27,000 seat stadium virtually guarantees the Bolts sellouts, right? However, due to apathy from the LA area and a less than promising outlook on the current season, opposing fan bases would turn this quaint and cozy arena into hostile territory for its hosts. But despite all this turmoil, the Chargers nearly stole the division away from a slumping Kansas City Chiefs team that appeared like championship contenders early in the year and lucky to be competitive by its conclusion. Had LA began its surge a week or two prior, then the discussion may have turned into both Los Angeles transplant franchises earning playoff berths in the first skirmish for supremacy in the greater Los Angeles market.
What To Expect: This battle promises not to be the last. The Chargers will be fighting rivals new and old in 2018; the long time on field opponents in the AFC West and the Rams, who they will be fighting at the box office and for the hearts and minds of Los Angelinos. In the competition of sport, the Chargers are seen as a favorite to win their division. Why? Because, ironically, they have experienced the least amount of transition. The Denver Broncos are introducing a new quarterback in free agent acquisition Case Keenum, the Kansas City Chiefs are beginning the Patrick Mahomes era, and the return of Jon Gruden to the Oakland Raiders are leaving those on the outside seeing more questions than answers. And the Chargers possess pieces to win outright. QB Philip Rivers has been brilliant in the second act of his career. RB Melvin Gordon has shown game breaking abilities, but has not put it all together yet. WR Keenan Allen has been Rivers' favorite target, running crisp routes and gaining yards after the catch. The Bolts boast a terrifying defensive front with ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Boss along with interior lineman Corey Liuget. Some may see experts picking the Chargers to win the AFC West as a benefactor of attrition, but this is a roster of very good talent that has hampered either by injury or external forces beyond their control. If the injury bug can be eradicated and this team can simply focus on football, then they can turn some heads. And the Chargers will need to do so for their sake in LA as the Rams pushed all their chips to the middle of the table, betting on talented but problematic veterans to make a run up Mount Lombardi. The Rams are going Super Bowl or bust, while the Chargers are attempting to put the pieces together to remain competitive. While that method has zero sex appeal, it's more sound than the big splash approach. And whoever wins consistently will eventually win the battle for the adoration of LA.