The Los Angeles Chargers' 2021 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate on Wednesday.
The 2021 NFL season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 9 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys. ESPN will have a Monday Night Football on Sept. 13 featuring the Baltimore Ravens playing at the Las Vegas Raiders (8:15 p.m. ET).
The NFL will change its schedule for the first time in 44 years, expanding to 17 regular-season games. The final regular-season games will be played January 9, 2022. The playoffs begin January 15, 2022 and continue through Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022 at Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium.
Here's what in store for the Chargers:
Sept. 12: at Washington Football Team
Sept. 19: vs. Cowboys
Sept. 26: at Chiefs
Oct. 4: vs. Raiders
Oct. 10: vs. Browns
Oct. 17: at Ravens
Oct. 24: bye
Oct. 31: vs. Patriots
Nov. 7: at Eagles
Nov. 14: vs. Vikings
Nov. 21: vs. Steelers
Nov. 28: at Broncos
Dec. 5: at Bengals
Dec. 12: vs. Giants
Dec. 19: vs. Chiefs
Dec. 26: at Texans
Jan. 2: Broncos
Jan. 9: at Raiders
Strength of schedule: 17th, .493
The biggest names stand out: the Chiefs in Week 3 and Week 15. Kansas City has improved its offensive line (as have the Chargers) and figure to be as dangerous as ever. The Cowboys are always interesting and should not be ignored in Week 2, especially if Dak Prescott is healthy and back at full strength. But the Chargers should have Derwin James back and he is dangerous, too. It could come down to the kicking game, which has proved interesting at best in Charger-land in recent years.
One storyline to watch
Was Justin Herbert a one-hit wonder with rookie luck? Or is he the real deal? The Chargers have surrounded Herbert with offensive linemen in the offseason with All-Pro center Corey Linsley in free agency and drafted Rashawn Slater to play left tackle. And they are working with a somewhat familiar playbook from the Lynn regime. But is Herbert as good as described, or will the second-year yips set in? They have a healthy Austin Ekeler at running back it seems and big Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are there at receiver, but can Herbert find them for big plays?
What Vegas thinks
If the Chargers are as good as projected, they should be a playoff contender and go over the expectation of 9 wins. If they don't, the grand project of hiring Brandon Staley from the Rams and his band of coaches from his past will fail in year one.
The Chargers will make the playoffs for only the third time since 2009 and beat the two-time defending AFC champion Chiefs at least once. They also have the Raiders and Broncos in their division and will beat them as well.