The countdown to Week 1 is on.
With the season kicking off in a couple of days, NFL analysts and publications have released their power rankings leading up to the first game. Take a look at where the Bolts are ranked heading into the 2022 season:
No. 9: Dan Hanzus - NFL.com
Will Justin Herbert win MVP? In two seasons, Herbert has quickly established himself as one of the most exciting and productive quarterbacks in pro football. Now, with a strong supporting cast on both sides of the ball, this feels like the time where Herbert rampages through a season and enters the conversation as the best player in the sport... But Herbert is flat-out special, and he has the potential to be the difference-maker in a loaded AFC West.
No. 6: NFL Staff - Bleacher Report
Among teams that failed to make the postseason last year, none are ranked higher in these power rankings than the Los Angeles Chargers.
On some level, it's not hard to see why. In Justin Herbert, the Chargers have one of the NFL's best young quarterbacks. As Chargers quarterbacks coach Shane Day told Steven Ruiz of the Ringer, Herbert is only just scratching the surface of what he can do at the NFL level... In wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, Herbert has one of the better one-two punches in the league at his disposal. Austin Ekeler is a do-it-all running back who scored 20 total touchdowns in 2021. After adding edge-rusher Khalil Mack and cornerback J.C. Jackson, expectations are high for the Chargers defense this season.
No. 5: Bo Wulf - The Athletic
Justin Herbert practically guarantees a top-five offense, while his rookie contract allowed the team to spend big on defense to improve the No. 26 unit by DVOA. Meanwhile, Brandon Staley's commitment to proper in-game decision-making should pay off over the long run. If you're a fan of process, the Chargers are for you.
Check out the best photos from the Chargers first practice of Raiders week on Monday at Hoag Performance Center.
No. 5: Sam Monson - Pro Football Focus
Few teams were as aggressive this offseason as the Chargers, who seem determined to capitalize on the talent they have at quarterback in Justin Herbert. Far from regressing, Herbert's second season built on his stellar rookie campaign, so the Chargers spent a ton of money to surround him with talent. Adding a player such as Khalil Mack should improve everything up front, and J.C. Jackson adds to a secondary that has a lot of ball skills as a unit. Drafting Zion Johnson should ensure that the line in front of Herbert remains solid.
No. 6: Austin Gayle - The Ringer
There's something comforting about the Chargers resuming their rightful place as the most hyped team in August. But unlike in past years, these Chargers look ready to back it up. Star quarterback Justin Herbert is the favorite to lead the NFL in passing yards (+500) and all but cemented as a top-five player at his position. With a bunch of new defensive additions to help fix last year's biggest weakness, there are no excuses for second-year head coach Brandon Staley and Co. They've spent as much as they can on the lottery ticket that is an elite quarterback on a rookie contract in Herbert. It's time to cash in.
No. 4: Vinnie Iyer - Sporting News
The Chargers deserve all the preseason hype they are getting. Justin Herbert still hasn't hit his ceiling after two stellar seasons and between the line and weapons, he's loaded to push his game higher. The defense just needs to stay healthy to be destructively daunting with Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa, J.C. Jackson and Derwin James.
No. 9: Pete Prisco - CBS Sports
Getting Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson in free agency will make this defense so much better. The offense with Justin Herbert will again be dynamic...
No. 7: Frank Schwab - Yahoo Sports
The Chargers have been trying to find a backup for running back Austin Ekeler. Maybe free-agent addition Sony Michel, cut by the Dolphins at the end of the preseason, will be the answer. Michel had some good moments with the Rams last season.
No. 8: Lindsey Thiry - ESPN.com
The season will be a success if … the Chargers advance to the AFC Championship Game.
That's a lofty expectation for a team that failed to advance to the playoffs last season and has appeared in the postseason only twice since 2013. However, Herbert helped produce one of the NFL's top offenses in 2021, and after significant shortcomings on defense, the Bolts invested significant resources on that side of the ball. They traded for All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack and signed Jackson -- the NFL's interceptions leader (25) since 2018 -- along with defensive linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson and Morgan Fox in free agency.
No. 15: Mike Florio - Pro Football Talk
No. 6: MMQB Staff - Sports Illustrated
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