The San Diego Chargers have been floating around .500 for five years now. Judging by the football odds, it'll be more of the same in 2015 – maybe their last year in town.
Will this be the last hurrah for the San Diego Chargers? It depends how much public money people are willing to contribute – if any – to the proposed $1.1-billion facility that would replace Qualcomm Stadium. That money's going to be harder to come by in this new Information Age, where people are a little less likely to be hoodwinked by promises of “ecomonic benefit” to the community. In which case, get ready to welcome back the Los Angeles Chargers for the first time in 55 years.
It would help the team's cause if it were a little more competitive on the football field. Thanks in part to some questionable decisions by the previous regime under general manager A.J. Smith, the Chargers have been stuck in neutral over the past five seasons, winning between seven and nine games while reaching the playoffs just once. And the NFL odds tell us to expect continued mediocrity for 2015.
At press time, San Diego finds itself with a regular season win total of either eight or 8.5 wins, depending on where you shop. That's probably not going to be enough wins to compete in the AFC West. The Denver Broncos are clearly the best team in the division, and are priced accordingly at between –174 and –240 on the NFL futures market. Then it's the Kansas City Chiefs at between +321 and +415, followed by the Chargers as high as +500 at GTBets.
The advanced stats don't give us much reason to be optimistic about San Diego's chances, either. According to Football Outsiders, the Chargers performed at the level of an 8-8 team last year, based on both Estimated Wins and Pythagorean Wins. Pro Football Reference was a bit more generous, putting San Diego at +1.9 on its Simple Rating System; that's 1.9 points better per game than the average NFL team. Denver had a +9.6 SRS last year. Kansas City checked in at +5.6 SRS.
The Chargers could have been a much better team last year had it not been for all the injuries on the offensive line. But they can't just count on good health to get their house back in order. Center Nick Hardwick and RG Jeromey Clary both retired during the offseason, and San Diego didn't draft any offensive linemen this year, opting instead to trade up for Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon at No. 15.
It gets worse. Antonio Gates (69 catches, 12 TDs), one of the league's best tight ends for over a decade, is suspended for the first four games of the regular season after testing positive for PEDs. Ladarius Green (19 catches, zero TDs) is expected to fill in for Gates. Green isn't a ham-and-egger, but this is a definite downgrade on paper for San Diego. Get those moving trucks ready.