Los Angeles Chargers schedule and predictions takeaways:
- Los Angeles will appear three times on national television (ESPN in Week 4, NBC in Week 11, NFL Network in Week 15)
- Chargers rank 17th in the The Athletic’s strength of schedule
Los Angeles found its franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert last spring, but it needed to build a foundation around him after a record-breaking rookie season. Fortunately, the Chargers did just that by overhauling the coaching staff, upgrading the offensive line and getting some of its top defensive players back from injuries.
Los Angeles Chargers schedule predictions, roster outlook
All our predictions are based on the Chargers keeping and starting these key players:
- QB: Justin Herbert
- RB: Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson
- WR: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Josh Palmer, Tyron Johnson
- TE: Jared Cook, Donald Parham Jr.
- Defense: No. 12 in NFL defense rankings
Let’s look ahead to the Chargers’ 2021 season and examine our game-by-game predictions that could send Los Angeles to the NFL Playoffs.
Los Angeles Chargers 2021 preseason schedule
|Saturday, Aug. 14||@ Los Angeles Rams||10:00 PM||CBS2 LA|
|Sunday, Aug. 22||vs. San Francisco 49ers||7:30 PM||CBS2 LA|
|Saturday, Aug. 28||@ Seattle Seahawks||10:00 PM||CBS2 LA|
This season the NFL is reducing its preseason schedule to three games per team and expanding the regular season to 17 games, rather than the traditional 16 games.
Week 1 – @ Washington Football Team
|Sunday, Sept. 12||1:00 PM||CBS|
- Spread: -1.5 Chargers (via DraftKings)
- Moneyline: Chargers -117, WFT -105
- Over/Under: 44/5
The Washington Football Team and the Chargers are two clubs that both could be exciting this year. If they played later in the season, this matchup could tip toward Los Angeles. But it takes time for an offensive line to gel and with so many new faces protecting Herbert, Washington’s dominant pass rush will take advantage of any communication mistake.
- Week 1 schedule prediction: Washington Football Team 17, Chargers 14
Week 2 – vs. Dallas Cowboys
|Sunday, Sept. 19||4:25 PM||CBS|
This could be a showcase game for the Chargers. Both teams have explosive offenses, but Los Angeles boasts the defensive personnel and coaching to cause the other side problems. Herbert will have no problem surgically dicing the Cowboys’ secondary apart and it shouldn’t be a huge surprise if this turned into a blowout.
- Week 2 schedule prediction: Chargers 38, Cowboys 21
Week 3 – @ Kansas City Chiefs
|Sunday, Sept. 26||1:00 PM||CBS|
Kansas City is still the class of the division and the AFC, but Los Angeles will challenge them in 2021 and well beyond. Herbert went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes and nearly beat him as a rookie. With more experience and a better supporting cast, this could be the NFL’s next great quarterback rivalry. But, with this game played in Kansas City, the Chiefs get the edge.
- Week 3 schedule prediction: Chiefs 27, Chargers 21
Week 4 – vs. Las Vegas Raiders
|Monday, Oct. 4||8:15 PM||ESPN|
The Chargers got better this offseason and the Raiders got worse. The gap between these two clubs was already apparent, but it’s going to be even more obvious in 2021. Herbert and Co. and be appreciative that some wins will come much easier than others.
- Week 4 schedule prediction: Chargers 31, Raiders 20
Week 5 – vs. Cleveland Browns
|Sunday, Oct. 10||4:05 PM||CBS|
If you’re looking for a potential sleeper pick for the AFC Championship Game, this clash in Week 5 might deliver. Cleveland and Los Angeles arguably made the biggest improvements via free agency and the NFL Draft, putting them both in position to contend for a Super Bowl this season. We give the edge to the superior quarterback playing at home.
- Week 5 schedule prediction: Chargers 34, Browns 28
Week 6 – @ Baltimore Ravens
|Sunday, Oct. 17||1:00 PM||CBS|
Two of the best, young quarterbacks in the NFL exchanging blows in a high-scoring affair. Football fans really couldn’t ask for much more than this on a Sunday afternoon. Both clubs have plenty of respectable talent on the defensive side, which should prevent this one from getting too crazy. Ultimately, Baltimore’s secondary matches up better against the Chargers’ receivers than LA’s front seven does against the Ravens’ run game.
- Week 6 schedule prediction: Ravens 30, Chargers 24
Week 7 – BYE
Week 8 – vs. New England Patriots
|Sunday, Oct. 31||4:05 PM||CBS|
New England will be a much better football team this year, especially if they start Cam Newton over Mac Jones. Bill Belichick is regarded for taking away what his opponent does best, which will put pressure on Herbert to deliver for his team. We’d bet on the second-year passer to rise to the occasion, delivering in the clutch to secure a win.
- Week 8 schedule prediction: Chargers 21, Patriots 17
Week 9 – @ Philadelphia Eagles
|Sunday, Nov. 7||4:05 PM||CBS|
The Eagles aren’t ready to admit they are in a rebuild. but all the signs point in that direction. While this offense should be more consistent than last season’s group, Philadelphia’s secondary is a disaster. Mike Williams, Keenan Allen and Jared Cook should have no trouble at Lincoln Financial Field.
- Week 9 schedule prediction: Chargers 28, Eagles 20
Week 10 – vs. Minnesota Vikings
|Sunday, Nov. 14||4:05 PM||FOX|
Opponents averaged 4.5 yards per carry and 120 rushing yards per game against the Chargers this past season. While Brandon Staley won’t have the same caliber of personnel as the Rams’ defense that allowed 3.8 ypc, he has a brilliant defensive mind that can find a way to contain Dalvin Cook. Once that happens, Kirk Cousins will prove why Minnesota drafted his replacement.
- Week 10 schedule prediction: Chargers 27, Vikings 21
Week 11 – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
|Sunday, Nov. 21||8:20 PM||NBC|
If you’re looking for one team to take the biggest step backward in 2021, it’s the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL and this is no longer an elite defense. Herbert will find holes in the secondary and exploit them quickly. When he’s off the field, Joey Bosa will be living in the Steelers’ backfield.
- Week 11 schedule prediction: Chargers 30, Steelers 25
Week 12 – @ Denver Broncos
|Sunday, Nov. 28||4:05 PM||CBS|
If the Broncos pull off an Aaron Rodgers trade, everything changes in the NFL and AFC West. But Denver’s current quarterback situation isn’t appealing and it’s going to be the thing that prevents a deep, talented team from living up to its potential.
- Week 12 schedule prediction: Chargers 24, Broncos 17
Week 13 – @ Cincinnati Bengals
|Sunday, Dec. 5||1:00 PM||FOX|
The Bengals and Chargers both landed franchise quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Los Angeles dedicated this offseason to building a foundation along the offensive line, insurance to protect the face of the franchise. The Bengals didn’t seem as concerned, with their star coming off a torn ACL. It will be fascinating to see what happens to these two teams and quarterbacks in the next five years.
- Week 13 schedule prediction: Chargers 35, Bengals 20
Week 14 – vs. New York Giants
|Sunday, Dec. 12||4:05 PM||FOX|
New York is very similar to the Broncos. Both teams have the defense and offensive weapons to easily make the playoffs, but quarterback play drags them down. It will be a treat to see what defensive coordinator Patrick Graham throws at Herbert, we might even see a turnover. But Staley’s defense is going to make life miserable for Daniel Jones and that decides this game.
- Week 14 schedule prediction: Chargers 23, Giants 20
Week 15 – vs. Kansas City Chiefs
|Thursday, Dec. 16||8:20 PM||FOX, NFLN|
We gave the Chiefs the edge in the early matchup because the game was played in Kansas City. It’s a positive that the Chargers are back home for this meeting. But this matchup comes on a short week in front of a national audience and while the Chiefs are traveling, experience can be a huge rule. Losing twice to a rival hurts, but history might be on the Chargers’ side if these clubs meet in the playoffs.
- Week 15 schedule prediction: Chiefs 34, Chargers 31
Week 16 – @ Houston Texans
|Sunday, Dec. 26||1:00 PM||CBS|
It might be too early to say the Texans could be one of the worst teams in NFL history, but it’s possible. Deshaun Watson is never playing for this franchise again and while Houston signed more free agents than any other team, this roster is still abysmal. Los Angeles should coast to victory by halftime and can then take its foot off the gas.
- Week 16 schedule prediction: Chargers 38, Texans 13
Week 17 – vs. Denver Broncos
|Sunday, Jan. 2||4:05 PM||CBS|
Admittedly, we’d like the Chargers more at home if the fan support was stronger. It’s possible that an 11-4 record entering January could change things, with football fans in Los Angeles rallying around Herbert. This will be another intriguing divisional matchup, one that might be decided in the final seconds by a kicker. Given the Chargers’ history, that doesn’t work in their favor.
- Week 17 schedule prediction: Broncos 23, Chargers 21
Week 18 – @ Las Vegas Raiders
|Sunday, Jan. 9||4:25 PM||CBS|
The Chargers end their 2021 regular season with a trip to Las Vegas, which is rather fitting. After Herbert and Co. dominate the Raiders, they can spend the night celebrating their outstanding record and a trip to the NFL Playoffs.
- Week 18 schedule prediction: Chargers 31, Raiders 20