Los Angeles Chargers: nfl FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The NFL’s Chargers have played their last three seasons in Los Angeles after spending close to fifty years in San Diego. However, fans might be surprised to know that the team actually started out in the City of Angels.
Born into the AFL as one of the original eight teams in the league, the Chargers began play in LA using a variation of the blue and yellow color scheme it employs to this day. In fact, although the Chargers have tweaked the shades of blue and yellow throughout the years, they have kept the lightning bolt logo and color scheme since their inception.
A year later, however, the team would move to San Diego, and begin a remarkable run. Led by HOF coach Sid Gillman, the Chargers reached the AFL title game in five out of its first six years. A bet on the Los Angeles Chargers to win those games, however, wouldn’t have been a great idea, as the team only won a single title, in 1963, for the franchise’s only world championship to date.
After that, however, the Los Angeles Chargers odds to advance decreased, and the team would record four straight third-place division finishes before the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. That wouldn’t do much to improve the Los Angeles Chargers odds, either, as the team wouldn’t reach the playoffs again until 1979, when it won its first division title in fourteen years. That coincided with the blossoming of 1973 3rd round draft pick and future HOF QB Dan Fouts, who had been mediocre in the six years prior. However, in ’79, Fouts would lead the league in passing for four consecutive years. Fouts boasted an elite receiving corps, consisting of future HOF WR Charlie Joyner and four-time Pro Bowler John Jefferson. HOF TE Kellen Winslow would become a major contributor in 1980, the year Jefferson led the league in receiving yards, and the Chargers transformation into an offensive juggernaut was complete.
However, a bet on the Los Angeles Chargers to win the Super Bowl would not pay, as the team lost two consecutive AFC title games in 1981 & 1982. The first came to eventual champion Oakland in a game where the Los Angeles Chargers odds were -4.0. The second was a 27-7 shellacking at the hands of 4.5-point favorite Cincinnati Bengals. The Chargers would earn a wildcard in the strike shortened season of 1983, losing to Don Shula’s Miami Dolphins. Fouts would play five more seasons, but a bet on the Los Angeles Chargers to reach the playoffs would be ill-advised, as the team would would fail to qualify in any of them.
In 1991, the team hired Georgia Tech head coach Bobby Ross to lead the team, and Ross provided instant success. Anchored by a defense led by HOF LB Junior Seau, and buoyed by a trade for Washington backup QB Stan Humphries, Los Angeles won the AFC West and made the playoffs for the first time in a decade. However, they would be shut out by the Miami Dolphins in the divisional round, with Humphries throwing four interceptions.
The Chargers stumbled to an 8-8 record in 1993, but returned to the playoffs with largely the same cast of characters. This time, a bet on the Los Angeles Chargers to proceed through the playoffs would’ve been a good idea – the team reached the Super Bowl for the first time since the AFL-NFL merger. However, the Los Angeles Chargers odds to win the game were the longest of any Super Bowl ever – the San Francisco 49ers were 19-point favorites. Predictably, the 49ers covered the spread and won the game, 49-26.
Los Angeles would make one more playoff appearance in the ‘90s, wildcard loss the following year to the Indianapolis Colts. Marty Schottenheimer took over the head coaching duties in 2002, and immediately returned the team to the upper echelons of the league. Future HOF RB LaDanian Tomlinson had been drafted fifth overall the year before, along with QB Drew Brees in the second round. While it wasn’t until Brees signed with the Saints in 2006 that he turned into the future HOF QB he is today, Brees and Tomlinson, along with 8-time Pro Bowl TE Antonio Gates and Brees’ successor Phillip Rivers, created the foundations of a remarkable scoring offense that would rank in the top-5 of the NFL for an astonishing eight consecutive seasons.
A bet on the Los Angeles Chargers to win the division would’ve paid handsomely between 2004-2009, as the team won five division titles. But the team could not get out of its own way, losing two playoff games to the Patriots and Jets each and one to the Steelers. The Los Angeles Chargers odds in the five games ran the gamut – they were big favorites in 2010, when they lost to the Jets at home, and big underdogs in New England in 2008.
Rivers, meanwhile, would carve out a remarkable-yet-overshadowed fourteen-year career in San Diego. After his initial taste of division and playoff success, Rivers would make the playoffs only twice more, in 2013 and 2018, both divisional round losses. He would lead the league in passing only once, in 2010, but he would throw for over 4,000 yards in ten out of his final eleven seasons. After the 2019 season, Rivers would sign with Indianapolis, marking the end of his tenure in San Diego.
It didn't take long for the Chargers to find their next quarterback, as the team drafted Justin Herbert out of Oregon with the No. 6 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Herbert went on to win the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but the Bolts suffered several close losses and ended up 7-9 on the season. Anthony Lynn would be fired as head coach and replaced by former LA Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. While the team played in SoFi Stadium in 2020, 2021 will be the first season that they do so in front of fans.