Preseason hype is nothing new for the Los Angeles Chargers. It feels like they're a popular pick to be good prior to every NFL season, dating back to the Philip Rivers days. However, rarely do they make good on the hype. The Chargers are one of those teams that seems to find a way to lose games they have no business losing. They are perennial underachievers.
However, there's hope that this year's version of the Chargers will be different. Justin Herbert is already considered one of the best quarterbacks in football, and it feels like there's even more to his game that can be unlocked. The team has invested in the offensive line to protect him. The weapons are there for Herbert as well. This past offseason, the focus was the defense. Khalil Mack was traded for and J.C. Jackson was signed in free agency.
The Chargers are fully taking advantage of the benefit of having a superstar on a rookie contract. They came close to making the playoffs last season, but had their hearts broken when the Raiders decided to forego playing for a tie. The expectations for this season aren't just to make the playoffs though. A lot of people fancy Los Angeles as a legitimate Super Bowl threat. Yahoo's Frank Schwab has them at No. 8 in his preseason power rankings. The betting market similarly thinks very highly of the Chargers.
Is this the year the Chargers take the step?
Last season, the Los Angeles Chargers won nine games. That wasn't enough to make the playoffs, but it marked a slight improvement from the year prior. Oddsmakers are expecting another improvement from the Chargers this upcoming season, as their preseason win total is set at over/under 10.5 wins. Bettors are backing Los Angeles, as 85% of bets and 81% of the money is on the over. However, Los Angeles has only hit double digit wins once since 2009.
The Chargers are -160 favorites to make the playoffs. Those odds suggest Los Angeles qualifies for the postseason almost 62% of the time. The Chargers have made the playoffs just once since 2014, but bettors are expecting that to change. Currently at BetMGM, 90% of bets and 97% of the money is backing Los Angeles to make the playoffs.
Los Angeles is currently +250 to win the AFC West. Those are the second-best odds in the division behind only the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the division is expected to be extremely competitive. The Chargers are +250 to win it, but they're also only +375 to finish in fourth place. Any of the four teams could finish in any order and nobody would be truly surprised.
The Chargers are -150 favorites to finish in a top-two spot in the division. They are currently the second-most popular bet to win the division behind the Broncos. Los Angeles has not won the division since 2009. If the Chargers fail to capture the division, you can bet them to qualify for the playoffs as a wildcard team at +175.
Los Angeles currently has +800 odds to have the most wins in the league this upcoming season. Those odds are tied for fifth best with the Chiefs. Only the Bills, Buccaneers, Packers and Rams have better odds. The Chargers are +800 to lead the NFL in points scored during the regular season. Those odds are tied for second best with the Chiefs and Buccaneers. Only Buffalo has better odds. Los Angeles scored the fifth-most points last season.
Are the Chargers a legitimate Super Bowl contender?
The Los Angeles Chargers enter the 2022 season with 14-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. Those are the sixth-best odds in the league, just behind the Green Bay Packers. The Chargers are just ahead of teams like the Broncos and 49ers. Los Angeles is currently the fourth-most popular Super Bowl bet at BetMGM, behind only the Bills, Broncos and Buccaneers.
The Chargers are +750 to win the AFC and represent the conference in the Super Bowl. Those are the third best odds behind the Bills and Chiefs. Los Angeles is the fourth-most popular bet to win the conference, behind Buffalo, Denver and Indianapolis.
The Chargers are +900 to enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the conference. Those are the fifth-best odds behind the Bills, Chiefs, Broncos and Ravens.
Chargers' player props and awards
There's plenty of talent on this Chargers team. What does the betting market think of some of their key players?
Justin Herbert has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in just two seasons. That's represented by the MVP odds entering the upcoming season. Herbert is +850 to win NFL MVP in 2022. Those are the fourth-best odds behind only Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. He's the fourth-most popular bet behind Brady, Allen and Russell Wilson. Herbert is also 20-to-1 to win Offensive Player of the Year. Those odds are tied for sixth best. A Herbert MVP and Chargers Super Bowl parlay pays out at 100-to-1.
Herbert is the betting favorite to lead the NFL in passing yards this upcoming season at +700. He finished second last year behind Tom Brady and is the second-most popular bet to lead the league this upcoming season behind Derek Carr. Herbert is +550 to lead the league in passing touchdowns, making him the co-favorite alongside Tom Brady. Herbert is the most popular bet to lead the league in touchdown passes.
In terms of season-long props, Herberts' numbers for the upcoming season are set at over/under 4699.5 passing yards, 36.5 passing touchdowns and 13.5 interceptions. He went over all three of these numbers last season as he had 5014 yards, 38 touchdowns and 15 picks.
Keenan Allen is 40-to-1 to lead the NFL in receiving yards this upcoming season. Those are the same odds as the likes of Michael Thomas and D.K. Metcalf. He finished 13th last season. Allen is 14-to-1 to lead the NFL in receptions, the fifth-best odds behind only Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson and Stefon Diggs. Allen finished seventh in receptions last season. He's 30-to-1 to lead the league in receiving touchdowns.
Last season, Allen had 106 receptions for 1138 receiving yards and six touchdowns. His props for the upcoming season are set at over/under 99.5 receptions, 1049.5 receiving yards and 7.5 receiving touchdowns.
Austin Ekeler is 30-to-1 to lead the NFL in rushing yards this upcoming season. Those odds are tied for 13th best after he finished 12th in the league last season. Ekeler is 22-to-1 to lead the league in rushing touchdowns after finishing fifth last season. Those are the ninth-best odds, right behind Leonard Fournette.
Ekeler's season-long props for the upcoming season are set at over/under 799.5 rushing yards and 8.5 rushing touchdowns. Last season, he had 911 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Prior to last season, he never eclipsed three rushing touchdowns in a year. Ekeler's over/under for combined rushing and receiving yards is set at 1399.5 yards. He had 1588 last year and has gone over in two of his last three seasons.
Joey Bosa is 25-to-1 to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Those are the ninth-best odds and he's the 10th-most popular bet. Bosa is 14-to-1 to lead the league in sacks this upcoming season. Those are the fifth-best odds, tied with his brother Nick and also Danielle Hunter. Joey Bosa finished 13th last season. His over/under for sacks is set at 12.5 after he finished with 10.5 last year.
Other Chargers players
Mike Williams is 30-to-1 to lead the NFL in receiving yards and 40-to-1 to lead the league in receiving touchdowns. Williams had 76 receptions, 1146 receiving yards and 9 receiving touchdowns last season. His season-long props for 2022 are over/under 66.5 receptions, 999.5 receiving yards and 6.5 touchdowns.
Khalil Mack is 30-to-1 to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year in his first season with the Chargers. Mack is 16-to-1 to lead the league in sacks. Those odds are tied for 8th best with Chandler Jones. His over/under for sacks is set at 10.5 after he had 6 sacks in 7 games last year.
J.C. Jackson is 50-to-1 to win Defensive Player of the Year. His over/under for interceptions is set at 4.5 picks. He's had at least five in three straight seasons.
Derwin James is 40-to-1 to win Defensive Player of the Year.
Brandon Staley is 14-to-1 to win NFL Coach of the Year. Those odds are tied for second best with Kevin O'Connell and Brian Daboll. Only Dan Campbell has better odds. Staley is the fourth-most popular bet behind Campbell, Nathaniel Hackett and Sean McDermott.
Chargers open season as home favorites
These two teams met twice last year with both teams winning their home game. The Chargers are looking to exact revenge after a Raiders' win in Week 18 kept Los Angeles out of the playoffs.
The total for the game is set at 51.5 points. It's tied with the Rams-Bills game for the second-highest total of Week 1, behind only the Chiefs-Cardinals matchup.