Los Angeles Chargers  

 

Five reasons why the Chargers will make the 2018 NFL playoffs

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Wondering if and how your NFL team can make the playoffs in the coming season? Adam Rank and Marc Sessler have you covered in this ongoing series, as they provide five reasons why each of the league's 32 teams will make an appearance in the 2018 postseason. Today, Rank examines the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Los Angeles Chargers are the team to beat in the AFC West! I said this a few weeks ago, and many of the longtime Chargers fans implored me to take that back. "Rank, don't say things like that. You're just inviting something bad to happen to our team."

Yeah, whatever.

And then this happened.

So, yeah. That's on me.

This is devastating news, losing one of the bright young stars at tight end. A guy who was just given a chance to be the man in the wake of Antonio Gates' release. A dude I thought would have a monster breakout for the Chargers this season.

I hope you also won't be mad at me when I say what I need to say here: Despite losing Hunter Henry -- who is, no doubt, very good at what he does -- the Bolts are going to the playoffs this season. Here are five reasons why.

1) They have the most complete roster in the division

There are a lot of teams that would lose a talent like Double H and scramble to find ways to replace him, often as reflected by an uninspired headline like, "Team signs Clay Harbor in the wake of an injury." The Chargers go the other way and have a number of legitimate weapons to step in. What's funny is the Bolts always seem to have these tall, gifted pass catchers in endless supply. Like how ABC's "The Bachelorette" can locate a vast string of vapid, vain and unaware men to be contestants, the Chargers always have additional pass catchers ready to go. And when Tyrell Williams ends up leading the team with double-digit touchdowns, it will be no big deal.

That's the Chargers, man. I defy you to find a weakness on this team. I. DEFY. YOU!

2) And the best quarterback in the division

Every other team in the division has some question at their quarterback position. Yes, even you, Raiders fan. We hope last year was an aberration. But was it? WAS IT? I love Derek Carr, but Jon Gruden, man ... I'm concerned. Rivers is the best quarterback in this division. And I know I've said this recently, but Rivers is the best quarterback from the 2004 draft class -- it's time he's able to reap the rewards. Time to put it all together.

The one thing that might have flown under the radar for a lot of people (not you, because you're smart enough to be reading this stuff in early June, which means you're on the up-and-up) was the acquisition of Mike Pouncey. This is really big. L.A.'s offensive line was improved last year, but it's never looked the same since the retirement of Nick Hardwick. This should make the Chargers look like the Chargers again. Hell, maybe Melvin Gordon can crack an inside run now. I loved this move at the pivot. Pouncey did, too.

3) They might have the best 1-2 punch on D

I love everything that Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have going for them. This is like a Shaq-and-Kobe tandem who get along, or something.

Bosa is on the verge of being the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He had 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles last season, and he became the first guy in NFL history to have 19 sacks in his first 20 games. That's pretty dope. I know this guy is probably tired of getting that "next J.J. Watt" label thrown at him, but he's on the cusp of passing all of that. He's a true disruptive force.

Let's not pretend Ingram is just Bosa's sidekick. Like he's the NFL version of Dick Grayson or something. He had 10.5 sacks last season and even scored the first touchdown of his NFL career. He recently checked in at No. 76 in NFL Network's "Top 100 players of 2018," but that strikes me as kind of low. My conjecture is he will be much higher on this list next year. Much higher.

The only thing is, these guys need a nickname. Let's think about that for a bit.

4) As if the defense couldn't get better, it was gifted Derwin James

The Chargers had few weaknesses to address this offseason. If there was one, it was at the safety position. But even then, it was a mild complaint. It would be like complaining that In-N-Out Burger doesn't have an open bar. Like, yes, it would be nice for this to happen. But it's not necessary. It's already good. So the Chargers' defense was already good in 2017, but it could have used a mild upgrade at safety.

Enter Derwin James. The Chargers didn't have to mortgage the future by giving up draft picks to grab the player they needed. James was in the top 10 of many of the mock drafts I saw this spring, so getting him at No. 17 overall was an absolute gift.

Look, Gus Bradley is already the best defensive coordinator in the game, and he had two mega powers to work with. (Oh [expletive], is that the nickname for Bosa and Ingram? You know, after these guys.) Now you gift him James. Oh, I feel for you, Derek Carr, Patrick Mahomes and Case Keenum. Oh boy.

5) They should have been in the playoffs last year

Again, I hate to Rick Reilly myself for the second time in two weeks, but if the NFL ran the way the NCAA does, the Chargers would have been voted in over the Bills last year. Can we be honest about that? This team had four brutal losses to start the season (losing three of the four by a total of seven points). They had just moved to town and were getting acquainted with their new surroundings. I don't want to put the blame entirely on the move (we can save that for the kicker), but it hurt. I mean, you know how it is: Your first night in a new spot is tough. Shoot, I had to crash on a friend's couch in Chicago a few weeks ago, and I'm still out of sorts from it.

It seems to me that if your only reason for doubting the Chargers is because, "the Chargers always loose LAWLZZ," well then, I have no defense for that. But people were saying that [expletive] about the Jaguars last year, and how did that work out for them?

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

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