NFL

Will the Chargers Right the Ship, Win at Least 9 Games in 2024?

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath@ffaidanmcgrath
Will the Chargers Right the Ship, Win at Least 9 Games in 2024?

The Los Angeles Chargers are shaking things up for the 2024 NFL season after finishing with the worst record in the AFC West at 5-12 last season. The team parted ways with head coach Brandon Staley and longtime general manager Tom Telesco partway through the year, and they will now begin anew with Jim Harbaugh at the helm.

While they do have a franchise quarterback in tow, the Chargers are a franchise with more question marks than answers for the upcoming season. The presence of Justin Herbert gives the team a level of stability that other franchises might envy, but he might have to do a lot of heavy lifting this year to help his team get back on track.

That makes their line of 8.5 wins on FanDuel Sportsbook's Win Totals Betting Odds market particularly interesting. Herbert has a career 30-32 record and has won 9 or more games in 2 of his 4 seasons. Is the arrival of Harbaugh enough to get him back over that line this year, or will the Chargers succumb to the challenges their thin roster creates?

All NFL odds via FanDuel Sportsbook, and they may change after the article is published.

Los Angeles Chargers 2024 Win Total Odds

Chargers Over/Under 8.5 Wins

  • Over: -144
  • Under: +118

Odds to Make the Playoffs: +106
Odds to Win the AFC West: +350 (2nd)
Odds to Win the AFC Championship: +2100 (t-8th)
Super Bowl Odds: +4000 (t-15th)

Key Offseason Coaching Changes:

  • Fired Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco as head coach and general manager
  • Hired Jim Harbaugh and Joe Horwitz

Why Los Angeles Could Win Over 8.5 Games

  • Justin Herbert Is a Stud
  • Jim Harbaugh Has a Track Record of Success
  • A Relatively Soft Expected Schedule

If you're trying to sell someone on the Chargers, you're going to start with Justin Herbert. The former Oregon Ducks passer set the NFL record for most passing touchdowns as a rookie (31) and has thrown for more passing yards (17,223) in his first four seasons than any other quarterback in league history -- even after missing a handful of games.

Despite the turbulence around him in Los Angeles since entering the league, Herbert's career numbers are extremely impressive. He has averaged 7.3 adjusted yards per attempt with a 4.7% touchdown rate, a low 1.7% interception rate, and just a 5.1% sack rate.

With CFP Championship-winning coach Jim Harbaugh running the program now, there's hope Herbert can start putting more wins on the board going forward. Harbaugh has an impressive resume, including a 49-22-1 record as an NFL head coach and a 133-52 record at the college level.

His tenure with the San Francisco 49ers saw him take over a team that finished their previous season at 6-10. They went on to post double-digit wins in each of the next three consecutive seasons with Harbaugh at the helm before parting ways with him after an 8-8 campaign.

In hindsight, I think it's fair to say the 49ers made the incorrect decision there, siding with then-GM Trent Baalke over Harbaugh. Baalke's four drafts with Harbaugh at head coach produced just two players who would go on to receive Pro Bowl nominations despite the rest of the team's enviable success. The 49ers' loss became Michigan's gain, as the program went on to go 89-25 in his tenure before winning the CFP Championship in 2023. Now, the Chargers will look to capitalize on San Francisco's mistake, as well.

There's a chance Harbaugh and Herbert hit the ground running in their first season together, too. According to Sharp Football's strength of schedule metrics, only the Atlanta Falcons are expected to face an easier schedule than the Chargers in 2024.

In addition to playing in an AFC West that features two teams we don't expect much from this year in the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders, they'll get to take on the soft NFC South, as well as a slate of other AFC teams with low expectations like the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots. Their schedule could gift them a surprising number of wins in 2024, and that could be a big factor in why their current betting odds favor the over on 8.5 wins.

Why Los Angeles Could Win Under 8.5 Games

  • The Offense Lost a Lot of Players
  • The Defense Has Been Trending in the Wrong Direction
  • This Looks Like a "Rebuild" Year

It's no secret that the Chargers had some serious issues as they headed into the offseason -- it's part of why they parted ways with Staley and Telesco back in December. With several aging players on hefty contracts, the new Chargers brass had to make some uncomfortable decisions as soon as they took over the controls.

That included parting ways with all three of Herbert's top pass-catching options over the past few years. Austin Ekeler is now with the Washington Commanders, Keenan Allen was traded to the Chicago Bears, and Mike Williams is now a member of the New York Jets. With those guys out of town, it's not really clear who will be playing on offense this year.

Based on their current depth chart, we could see a lot of Josh Palmer, Quentin Johnston, and rookie Ladd McConkey this year. Palmer has yet truly rise above WR3 status despite opportunities over the past few years, while Johnston posted one of the worst rookie seasons we've seen in recent years. McConkey is a second-round pick rookie with upside, but he was never his team's top pass-catching option and had a single-season high of just 762 receiving yards. They're probably on the short list of "worst receiver rooms" in the league for the upcoming season.

Normally, we'd say that means we'd expect the Chargers to run the ball a lot, but their backfield now consists of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards -- two players the Baltimore Ravens let go this offseason after struggling to stay healthy. With two injury-prone running backs and an incomplete offensive line, the Chargers' ground game might not get the job done.

The offense can't really afford to sputter if the defense plays as poorly as they did a season ago. The Chargers allowed the ninth-most points (398), the fifth-most yards (6,170), and the seventh-most yards per play (5.5) in the NFL last year. They'll be relying on Joey Bosa -- who has played in just 14 games over the last two seasons -- and a 33-year-old Khalil Mack to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

Mack and Bosa are great players, but things just haven't worked out on defense for Los Angeles these past two years. This is a defense with more question marks than locked-in starters heading into this campaign.

Based on the sum of all of the Chargers' actions this offseason, it does feel like they're entering a "soft" rebuild. Harbaugh likely doesn't want to tank in his first year back in the NFL, but the team's new management had to recalibrate after inheriting a thin roster with aging talent.

While Harbaugh and Herbert should give the team a steady floor, they might not have enough talent or depth on the roster to be a real contender this year -- this could be a team that loses a lot of tight, one-score games.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.