After the Rams won the Super Bowl, the Chargers may truly seem like second-class NFL citizens in Los Angeles.
But the Chargers are not exactly the Clippers, either, as a team destined to live in the shadow of its local neighbor who has enjoyed much more success.
The Rams now have one championship, and the Chargers have none. The Rams have a much richer history in the area, but they haven’t enjoyed overwhelming success in comparison to the Chargers. It’s not like the Rams are the Lakers in terms of pure accolades and titles.
The Chargers are very capable of being just as good as the Rams this year. It would not be a surprise if they are better than the Rams, either. The scheduled January 1 matchup between the two teams could be one of the best games of the season. It would also not shock anyone if the Rams and Chargers met in Super Bowl LVII.
The Chargers Are Ready To Make Their Super Bowl Run
Aiming To Be Kings Of the AFC West
The Rams used to play what was regarded as the best division in football, the NFC West. But the Cardinals have not met expectations and the Seahawks traded Russell Wilson away. Now it’s the Chargers who play in what is clearly the best division in the game. The AFC West is loaded with top quarterbacks, including Wilson, and has also improved with some notable defensive upgrades.
If the Chargers come out of the AFC West as champions this season, they will have to be taken very seriously as a Super Bowl contender. Right now, at Caesars Sportsbook, the Chargers are listed at +250 to win the AFC West, and +1600 to win Super Bowl LVII.
Justin Herbert is deservedly regarded as the fastest-rising star at quarterback in the NFL after two amazing seasons to open his career. But he is also the least accomplished QB in his division. Patrick Mahomes and Wilson are Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. Derek Carr has playoff experience and now also arguably has the best pass-catching crew in the division.
But Herbert’s shining days in the postseason are ahead of him, and the Chargers should be set for a long time now at the most important position in the game. It seems that Herbert can fuel the Chargers as a contender for years to come. More than half of the teams in the league should be envious of them, as finding a franchise QB in today’s NFL is an annual and significant struggle for many organizations.
The 2022 Chargers are undoubtedly loaded on offense. Austin Ekeler is coming off the best season of his career, as he emerged as a major TD force for the first time. He is the best all-around running back in the AFC and maybe in the entire game. We could have quite a debate on Ekeler vs. Christian McCaffrey, with Ekeler winning out in terms of durability and availability.
Mike Williams finally had his breakthrough season in 2021, and along with perennial superstar Keenan Allen, the Chargers have one of the best wide receiver duos in the conference. Jalen Guyton may also continue to emerge as a smooth No. 3 wide receiver, and Donald Parham has a lot of potential as a pass-catching tight end. Gerald Everett, a new addition at tight end, is a strong locker room presence who will make key contributions as a blocker and receiver.
The Chargers Defense Is Built To Handle Top AFC West Offenses
The offensive line is also looking very good, as the team has made notable efforts to improve the blocking over the past two seasons. The big key for the Chargers will be how strong the defense can be, which is of major importance in the AFC West this season. The defensive line should benefit from the additions of Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day, the latter who was swiped from the Rams in the offseason.
Defending the run was a significant issue for the Chargers last season as they ranked 30th in rushing defense. With the new additions up front and the marquee addition of Khalil Mack, the Chargers could have a fearsome defense that can match the effectiveness of their offense. Now they have a better chance of putting teams in adverse passing situations on key downs and unleashing what should be the scariest pass rush duo in the league.
The combination of Mack and Joey Bosa will give the Chargers a real chance to strike fear into the hearts of opponents in the AFC West, no matter how decorated their passing games may look. The arrival of top cornerback J.C. Jackson provides another major and necessary piece of a formidable defense that appears fully ready to take on the powerful offenses in the division. Much credit has to go to John Spanos and Tom Telesco for making all the right moves during a very successful offseason.
The Chargers’ brass took advantage of Herbert being on his rookie contract. Mahomes and Wilson both won Super Bowls on their rookie deals. So Spanos and Telesco made significant moves to bolster other parts of the roster when they were already set at quarterback.
Yes, the Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions, and it was very admirable how they finally delivered a title to Los Angeles in their return to the city. But the Chargers are threatening to make it a two-team town.
If Brandon Staley can push all the right buttons in his second year at the helm, the Chargers could be Buffalo’s biggest obstacle to winning the AFC Championship this season.
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