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2018 Los Angeles Chargers game-by-game predictions

COSTA MESA, Calif. – The Los Angeles Chargers will be road warriors in 2018. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers have to travel 30,797 miles round trip this season, including a home game in London in Week 7 against the Tennessee Titans.

Only the Oakland Raiders (31,716) travel more miles than the Chargers. That said, the Chargers have the ninth-easiest strength of schedule in the NFL to start the regular season at .480. In the Chargers' second season in Los Angeles, coach Anthony Lynn should have the advantage of continuity in a year of transition for the rest of the AFC West.

“Missing out on that playoff tiebreaker left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, so schedule release day is pretty nice in that it helps us lock in on the job at hand for 2018,” Lynn said. “You know for months who you’re playing and where, but the 'when' brings everything that much more into focus. Looking at the schedule, there’s no doubt we have our work cut out for us. But I’m excited about this team and know we’ll be up for the challenge.”

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 4:05 p.m.

Losers of eight straight against the Chiefs, the Chargers will face second-year pro Patrick Mahomes for the first time, as the Texas Tech product makes his second career start. Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley should have some wrinkles in store. Record: 1-0.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.

The Chargers intercepted Nathan Peterman five times in the first half in a runaway win over the Bills last season. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will likely get a chance to chase around another inexperienced quarterback in the team’s season opener, whether it’s AJ McCarron or a rookie the Bills take in the draft. Record: 2-0.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.

The Chargers get an up-close look at their crosstown-rival Rams and the dream team they constructed during the offseason. Should be a tough game for the Bolts after traveling across the country a week earlier to face a physical Buffalo squad. Record: 2-1.

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, vs. San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m.

The Chargers face quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the first time and the StubHub Center should be filled with 49ers fans. But I’ll take Philip Rivers and his cast of playmakers against a young San Francisco defense. Record: 3-1.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, vs. Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m.

The Chargers face coach Jon Gruden for the first time since his return to the NFL after a nine-year absence. Expect the Raiders, swept by the Chargers last season, to struggle against their AFC West rivals as Gruden works to change the culture in Oakland. Record: 4-1.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.

The Browns should be much improved and actually played the Chargers tough a year ago at the StubHub Center, so this game won’t be easy. However, the Browns will struggle to score points. Record: 5-1.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, vs. Tennessee Titans, 9:30 a.m.

The Titans are physical and do a great job creating a diversity of runs led by athletic quarterback Marcus Mariota, and the Chargers have to prove they are better at stopping the run. Record: 5-2.

Week 8: Bye

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m.

The Chargers travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks for the first time since 2010. The Bolts usually play the Seahawks tough, but could struggle with the crowd noise and a resilient Seattle defense. Record: 5-3.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m.

Gruden should have his Raiders rounding into shape by the second half of the season, and the Chargers usually struggle to steal a win in the Black Hole. Record: 5-4.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, vs. Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m.

The Chargers will get their first look at Case Keenum as signal-caller for the Broncos, who will have to do a better job of protecting the quarterback to have a chance in this one. Record: 6-4.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, vs. Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m.

Let go midway through last season by the Broncos, former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy landed in Arizona as the Cardinals' offensive coordinator. Will Sam Bradford still be Arizona’s quarterback by this point of the season? Not sure it will matter. Record: 7-4.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.

The Chargers travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers for the first time since 2012. The Chargers are 2-8 against Pittsburgh over the last 10 meetings. Record: 7-5.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, vs Cincinnati Bengals, 4:05 p.m.

The Chargers are 19-14 against the Bengals, including 10-7 at home all-time. They should make it 11 in this one. Record: 8-5.

Week 15: Thursday, Dec. 13, at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m.

The Chiefs hosted the Chargers on a nationally televised, Thursday night game last season and the Bolts fell short. The Bolts suffer the same fate here. Record: 8-6.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 4:05 p.m.

Talent former Chargers safety Eric Weddle faces his former team for the first time. All of those practice battles between Rivers and Weddle will happen for real in this one. Record: 9-6.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m.

The Chargers haven’t won in Denver since 2013, but will find a way to get this one and sweep the Broncos for first time since 2010. Record: 10-6.