Chargers Preview Capsule
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (13-5)
New faces: LB Thomas Davis, QB Tyrod Taylor, DE Jerry Tillery, S Nasir Adderley.
Key losses: WR Tyrell Williams, TE Antonio Gates, DT Darius Philon, CB Jason Verrett, S Derwin James (injury), OT Russell Okung (injury).
Strengths: Despite Melvin Gordon’s holdout and James’ injury, Chargers still have one of league’s deepest rosters. Philip Rivers, going into 16th season, remains one of league’s top quarterbacks and gets back tight end Hunter Henry, who missed most of last season with knee injury. Defensive line, anchored by ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, remains formidable. Including playoffs, Chargers won nine of 10 games played outside Los Angeles area.
Weaknesses: Offensive line has struggled in preseason without Okung. Left tackle Trent Scott and right tackle Sam Tevi still working to find consistency in run and pass blocking. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson are capable running backs, but not at bell cow level of Gordon, who has become one of league’s top threats running and catching ball out of backfield.
Fantasy Players To Watch: WR Travis Benjamin. Eighth-year receiver one of quickest on Chargers but limited to 12 receptions last season due to injuries. If healthy, should receive more chances with teams keying on Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Henry.
Vegas Says: Win Super Bowl 14 1-2-1. Over/under wins 10.
Expectations: Rivers says talent on this year’s team reminds him of 2006 to 2009 teams, which won four straight division titles. It has been another tough camp though, due to Gordon holdout and injuries to Okung and James. Coach Anthony Lynn is no stranger to having to deal with guiding team through adversity. Schedule features four home games in first six weeks, but first two are against fellow playoff participants Indianapolis and Houston. Bolts will not face division rival Kansas City until Nov. 18 in Mexico City and regular-season finale Dec. 29 in Kansas City.