2023 AFC West Division Preview: Los Angeles Chargers Can Absolutely Challenge Chiefs For Top Spot

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With less than one month left until the 2023-24 NFL season kicks off, OutKick is unveiling its team-by-team preview series. Over the course of the next four weeks, we are going division-by-division, covering all 32 NFL teams. The series continues with the AFC and NFC West, now taking a look at last year’s second-place finisher in the AFC West, the Los Angeles Chargers.

Los Angeles Chargers 2022-23 Record: 10-7

Los Angeles Chargers 2023-24 Win Total Over/Under: 9.5

Offseason Moves

The Los Angeles Chargers didn’t go crazy in free agency, but they made an important addition. They brought in linebacker Eric Kendricks, who ranked in the Top 15 in run-stopping among linebackers according to Pro Football Focus. The Chargers have had some of the worst run defense in the NFL over the past couple of seasons. But with the league going more pass-heavy, they seem dedicated to stop that part of the game.

The Chargers elected to keep their roster mostly intact from last season. Three of the four players they let walk in free agency did not find homes with other NFL teams, so clearly not in-demand players.

Austin Ekeler demanded a trade, but Los Angeles did not give in and return their very important backfield piece.

As far as the NFL Draft, the Chargers caught a huge break when the run on wide receivers didn’t start until late in the first round. That allowed them to grab, in my opinion, the second-best receiver in this year’s NFL Draft class, Quentin Johnston. And Johnston is showing out during training camp.

In the second and third rounds, they turned their focus to defense. The Chargers drafted USC pass rusher Tuli Tuipulotu in the second round and Washington State linebacker Daiyan Henley in the third. They need both players to make an impact early to help a struggling defense.

Season Outlook

Most people don’t realize how close the Los Angeles Chargers were to winning the AFC West last season. It’s easy to look at the standings and see that the Chiefs won the division by four games. But in both head-to-head matchups, the Chargers easily could have — and arguably should have — won. If they had, both teams finish 12-5 and the Chargers win the division on the tiebreaker.

Of course, that didn’t happen, and people just think that the Chiefs know how to win and the Chargers don’t. And that certainly appeared to be the case when they blew a massive lead against the Jaguars in the Wild Card round. But this Chargers team is loaded and they were DECIMATED by injuries last season.

Star offensive tackle Rashawn Slater missed nearly the entire season. As did star defender Joey Bosa. And big-time free agent from last year, corner JC Jackson. Plus, Keenan Allen missed seven games. Everyone assumes Allen is fragile, but last year was the first time he played fewer than 14 games in any of the past six seasons. Mike Williams missed time, too, and Justin Herbert played several games with fractured rib cartiledge.

If the Los Angeles Chargers get better injury luck in 2023-24, they should be contenders to win the AFC West and challenge for a Super Bowl trophy this NFL season.
If the Los Angeles Chargers get better injury luck in 2023-24, they should be contenders to win the AFC West and challenge for a Super Bowl trophy this NFL season. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

So, the team decided to run it back with their core intact, adding only through the NFL Draft. I think it’s the right call. If they get just slightly better health luck this season, I like them to not only go over their 9.5-win total, but to win the AFC West (+340), as well. Justin Herbert to win MVP (+1300) isn’t a bad look, either, for what could be the highest-scoring offense in the NFL this season.

If you can’t tell, I’m loading up on Los Angeles Chargers stock for 2023-24.

Los Angeles Chargers Predicted Win Total: OVER 9.5

LISTEN: Dan Zaksheske and Geoff Clark Break Down The AFC and NFC West On The Latest Episode of “OutKick Bets”

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Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.


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  1. It seems to me I’ve read this article before…oh, yeah.

    Every year…for the last seven years.

    I mean, I get we need offseason content and hype but geeeeeez, this AGAIN? Another year of…oh, the Chargers might REALLY do it this time?

    To reiterate, Chiefs are BACKtoBACKtoBACKtoBACKtoBACKtoBACKtoBACK AFC West champs.

    And every year we get the same story about how talented the Chargers are ‘on paper’

    Honestly, I think they needed the new stadium for all their April Championship banners as much as for their lack of ‘fan’ support.

    And every year, they fall right on their faces, especially against KC [15-3 vs Bolts in last nine years]

    When Mahomes or Reid retire call me. Until then, the AFC West is their fiefdom.

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