San Diego Chargers Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 6/27/2014
So, did the Chargers send Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop a gift basket or buy him a nice watch or anything this offseason? Thanks to him, the Bolts snuck into the 2013 playoffs, the team's first extra football since 2009.
San Diego looked nothing like a playoff team after a 20-16 Week 11 loss in Miami dropped the club to 4-6 and was the Chargers' third straight defeat. An upset win the following week in Kansas City kept the playoff hopes alive, but a home loss in Week 13 to Cincinnati seemed to all but kill any postseason dreams. OK, a Week 14 home win over the Giants was to be expected, but surely San Diego would lose a quick turnaround Week 15 in Denver? Nope, the 27-20 victory was maybe the upset of the season and would be Denver's only home loss. San Diego easily handled the Raiders in Week 16 to have a playoff pulse in Week 17. Kansas City came to San Diego for the finale with nothing to play for and resting key guys. Yet the Chiefs had a chance to win at the end of regulation if Succop, a normally reliable kicker, made a 41-yarder. Wide right. The Bolts would win in overtime to become just the sixth team under the current format to make the postseason after starting 5-7 or worse.
No one gave the Chargers a shot in the wild-card round at Cincinnati, which was unbeaten at home and killing people there, but San Diego outscored the Bengals 20-0 in the second half for a 27-10 victory. Predictably, the season ended the next week in Denver, but all-in-all a successful year for first-year head coach Mike McCoy.
McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt completely turned Philip Rivers around last season. The San Diego offense ranked No. 31 in Norv Turner's final season, and Rivers threw 15 interceptions and had 13 fumbles, his second straight season as a turnover monster. Last year, the Bolts finished No. 5 in yards and Rivers arguably his best year, leading the NFL with a 69.5 completion percentage while throwing for 4,478 yards and 32 scores. He had 11 picks and just one fumble. Rivers was clearly the second-best QB in the AFC behind Peyton Manning. Running back Ryan Mathews had his best season, rushing for 1,255 yards and six scores. Receiver Keenan Allen (71 catches, 1,046 yards, eight TDs) was one of the NFL's top rookies, and tight end Antonio Gates (77 catches, 872 yards, four TDs) played all 16 games for the first time since 2009.
All the key guys are back -- except Whisenhunt, who took the Titans' head coaching job. Was San Diego that good offensively where it could afford not to upgrade perhaps at receiver or add a tight end behind the 34-year-old Gates? I'm not sure about that. The team is hugely counting on the return of receiver Malcom Floyd. He suffered a severe knee injury in Week 2 and missed the rest of the season. Floyd caught 51 balls for 814 yards and five scores two years ago. The Bolts did add some depth behind Mathews in former Colts running back Donald Brown. He finished with 537 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 5.3 yards per carry for the Colts in 2013. Last season was the first time in Mathews' career he had played every game, so that was a wise signing.
San Diego's defense wasn't great last season, ranking No. 23 overall and No. 29 against the pass. It was No. 11 in points at 21.8 per game. The team made a move this week in signing former Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers. He was surprisingly released earlier this month by Kansas City, which didn't want to pay him $5.25 million this season even though Flowers was a Pro Bowler last year when he finished with 68 tackles, a sack and an interception. Flowers said he picked the Chargers so he could play Kansas City twice. He should certainly help that pass defense, as should 2014 first-round pick Jason Verrett, a cornerback from TCU. Otherwise the defense should look largely the same. Having linebacker Melvin Ingram for the whole season after he missed the first 12 games a year ago also can only help. The Bolts also think linebacker and former Notre Dame star Manti Te'o is ready for a breakout second season. His rookie season started on the wrong foot, literally, as he suffered what turned out to be a broken foot. Te'o had surgery in January and now says he's in the best shape of his life.
2014 San Diego Chargers Schedule Analysis
The Chargers are tied for the fourth-toughest schedule in the NFL as their opponents went a combined 144-112 last season, a winning percentage of .563. San Diego's home slate (.563) is exactly the same as its road (.563), which is sort of unusual. The only other team with the same home and road opponents' winning percentage is Baltimore (.461). San Diego is a 3.5-point underdog for Week 1 at Arizona, the second game of the Monday night doubleheader. The total is set at 44.5. The Bolts were 4-4 on the road last year in the regular season, winning their last two (Chiefs and Broncos). San Diego also opened last year in the Monday night Week1 finale, losing at home to Houston.
The Bolts have a chance to get off to a really good start, perhaps even 6-1 if they can beat Arizona. After the Cardinals, San Diego will be a home dog on a short week to Seattle, but then has five winnable games: at Buffalo, vs. Jacksonville, vs. NY Jets, at Oakland, vs. Kansas City. Then it's a quick Thursday turnaround in Week 8 in Denver, but the Bolts took care of business in that scenario last year. A Week 9 trip to Miami follows before the bye. The first two out of the bye, the Chargers should be favored at home against Oakland and St. Louis. However, the last five they might be dogs in all: at Baltimore, vs. New England, vs. Denver, at San Francisco, at Kansas City. There appear to be only two likely cold-weather outdoor games on the slate: Week 13 in Baltimore and the finale in K.C. Although Week 8 in Denver you never know.
2014 San Diego Chargers Odds to win the Super Bowl and Futures Odds
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Chargers are +5000 to win the Super Bowl, +2000 to win the AFC championship and +650 to take the AFC West. Their wins total is set at 8, with the "over" a -130 favorite. San Diego is +375 to make the playoffs and -500 to miss. Rivers is +10000 to win NFL MVP and +2000 to lead the league in passing. Mathews is +4000 to top the NFL in rushing. Allen is +5000 to have the most receiving yards in the NFL. Verrett is +3000 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
2014 San Diego Chargers Picks and Predictions
Why were the Chargers a playoff team last season? One big reason was an excellent 5-2 record against playoff-bound teams in 2013. The Bolts are always tough to handicap because it seems like they lay an egg or two every season against teams they should beat (Oakland, Washington last season) but then beat a few teams they shouldn't (Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Denver).
I never played in the NFL, so it's hard to know how much losing a good offensive coordinator means, but I'd guess it's a big deal. I'm just a bit surprised
how little the team did in terms of additions this offseason. There may have not been a more quiet team in terms of what it added or lost, a least until
the Flowers signing. The oddsmakers nailed it in my opinion as this looks an awful lot like an 8-8 team. However, that's assuming a Week 1 win in Arizona.
Have to lean Cardinals there, so 7-9 is more likely than 9-7 for the Bolts. Go "under" and of course no playoffs.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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