The Chargers have high hopes for a big rebound 2021 season with promising first-year head coach Brandon Staley. Los Angeles is coming off a disappointing 7-9 final season under Anthony Lynn, but there is great optimism this year after an impressive rookie campaign from quarterback Justin Herbert.
Staley brings his defensive-minded genius from the NFC's Rams, trying to make his immediate mark on the NFL's other L.A. team. Herbert will try to build on his fine play with a new offensive system in Year 2.
The Chargers have some buzz because of its coach-QB combination, which could be around for a long time. They already are on the radar to return to the AFC playoffs for the first time since 2018.
Here is a complete breakdown of the Chargers' 2021 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 17 games.
Los Angeles Chargers schedule 2021
|1||Sept. 12||at Washington||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|2||Sept. 19||vs. Cowboys||4:25 p.m. ET||CBS|
|3||Sept. 26||at Chiefs||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|4||Oct. 4||vs. Raiders||8:15 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|5||Oct. 10||vs. Browns||4:05 p.m. ET||CBS|
|6||Oct. 17||at Ravens||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|8||Oct. 31||vs. Patriots||4:05 p.m. ET||CBS|
|9||Nov. 7||at Eagles||4:05 p.m. ET||CBS|
|10||Nov. 14||vs. Vikings||4:05 p.m. ET||Fox|
|11||Nov. 21||vs. Steelers||8:20 p.m. ET||NBC|
|12||Nov. 28||at Broncos||4:05 p.m ET||CBS|
|13||Dec. 5||at Bengals||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|14||Dec. 12||vs. Giants||4:05 p.m. ET||Fox|
|15||Dec. 16||vs. Chiefs||8:20 p.m. ET||Fox/NFLN/Amazon|
|16||Dec. 26||at Texans||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|17||Jan. 2||vs. Broncos||4:05 p.m. ET||CBS|
|18||Jan. 9||at Raiders||4:25 p.m. ET||CBS|
The Chargers are one of three teams that needs to face Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs twice as rising members of the AFC West. They also draw the stacked AFC North and the weak but improved NFC East.
As a third-place team from 2020, however, the Chargers also get the transitional Patriots and Texans. With the schedule expanding to 17 games, they were given an additional NFC game, also against the third-place Vikings.
Chargers strength of schedule
The Chargers have the 17th strongest schedule based on the combined 2020 winning percentage (.493, 133-137-2) of their current opponents. They are smack dab in the middle of the pack.
Outside of the Chiefs, they face the three playoff teams from the AFC North in the Steelers, Ravens and Browns. Their only returning playoff team from the NFC is Washington, which won the East with a sub-.500 record.
Toughest tests: Kansas City looms largest for sure. But Los Angeles also can't be pleased about Cleveland, Dallas, New England and Pittsburgh — and all their massive fan bases — coming to SoFi Stadium.
Biggest breaks: The Chargers balance out some concerns with home opponents with a favorable road slate. Beyond going to the Chiefs, the game at Baltimore is the only truly daunting trip.
Bottom line: Staley and Herbert have made everyone circle the Chargers as a sleeper or breakout playoff team in 2021, grabbing one of the three available wild-card spots behind the front-running Chiefs. The Chargers have the offensive and defensive supporting talent to live up to those expectations. The schedule is manageable enough to make it happen, too.
Record prediction: 10-7