The Los Angeles Chargers are a week away from their regular season opener against the Denver Broncos. The Chargers finished the 2016 season with a 5-11 record, last in the AFC West. They missed the playoffs by a few games.
Here are three predictions for the Chargers this season.
#3. Hunter Henry will lead the team in receiving
Philip Rivers likes his tight ends. He developed a very good relationship and chemistry with Antonio Gates. However, the former college basketball player missed seven games over the last two seasons and played at less than 100 percent in that time as well.
Gates has been a big part of the Chargers, but Keenan Allen has also been a go-to receiver for Rivers. Like Gates, Allen has had problem staying healthy. The wide receiver has not played a full 16-game season yet in his four-year career. He played just one game last year and did not see the field again with a torn ACL.
Neither can be counted upon from game-to-game, but tight end Hunter Henry emerged late last season as a go-to option for Rivers. The second round draft pick out of the University of Arkansas had 36 catches for 478 yards and eight touchdowns for the season, and scored touchdowns in three of the last four games.
Rivers will develop a rapport with Henry and look for him on third down and in the red zone. Henry will become Rivers’ safety blanket very quickly.
#2. Jason Verrett will lead the team in interceptions
The Chargers aren’t going to get many opportunities to intercept passes, but Verrett will be the beneficiary of those chances. The 26-year-old fourth-year cornerback has just five interceptions in his career, but has only played in 24 games. He has missed significant time in two of the three seasons. Last season, he was on pace to set a career-high in interceptions before a knee injury ended his year.
Verrett, now healthy, will not only set a career-high in picks, but will lead the team in that category as well. Last season’s leader, Casey Hayward, is still on the roster, but team’s won’t throw in his direction as often as they did in the past and test Verrett instead. It all falls into place for Verrett to have a career-year.
#1. The Chargers will finish fourth in the AFC West division
The Chargers will make an improvement this season with a favorable schedule, but it won’t be enough to catch anyone else in the division. The Chargers will finish last in the top-to-bottom best division in the league.