All it takes is one look at the Chargers' 2017 schedule to know Los Angeles is in for an exciting campaign.
The Anthony Lynn era begins against the team he won two Super Bowls with as the Bolts head to Denver for a Monday Night Football showdown with the Broncos. Other highlights include three straight home games to open StubHub Center as well as a Thanksgiving visit to the Dallas Cowboys. It marks the Chargers' first time playing on Thanksgiving since 1969 before the NFL-AFL merger.
"To play Thanksgiving in Dallas is awesome," said Philip Rivers. "Every year I always wonder if that will ever be us playing in that game. That's a game the whole country watches, and now we get to play in it so that's awesome. Dallas on Thanksgiving is as big as it gets."
"This is the time of year where we lay a foundation for the season ahead, and the schedule release helps bring everything that much more into focus," said Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn. "You always have goals, but now we really know what we're looking at as a team, as a coaching staff, and as an organization. From opening in the division on Monday Night Football at Denver to closing the season at home against a rival like Oakland and everything in between, we now know the challenges that lie ahead. I know our organization will be ready to embrace those challenges."
To kick off the 2017 season, the NFL decided to save the best for last as the Chargers visit the Broncos for the second game in ESPN's annual Monday night doubleheader. While the Bolts have played in the game often, it marks their first appearance since 2014.
The Chargers then return home to Los Angeles, where they'll remain for three straight weeks for the first regular season games at StubHub Center.
"That's going to be dope," Keenan Allen said. "I can't wait to play there. It's going to be crazy in that place, and exciting to play in front of our fans in that (environment) a lot early on."
It's also the first time the team has had three consecutive games at home since 2010, and kicks off a stretch in which L.A. plays five out of their next seven against playoff teams from last season. The home stand begins with the Miami Dolphins, followed by the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Bolts then head cross-country for their first of four east coast trips to play the New York Giants. It marks the fourth time Rivers will square off against Eli Manning since the two were traded for one another in the 2004 NFL Draft. The Chargers are 3-0 against the Giants over that span.
L.A. faces a tough three game stretch leading into a Week 9 bye, starting with a trip to the Black Hole against the Oakland Raiders. They'll return home to host the Broncos before heading to Foxborough, where they'll play the reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.
It will be an emotional game after the bye for Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley as the Bolts face his former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars where he served as head coach from 2013-16. Meanwhile, this marks the fifth-straight season the Chargers will play the Jags.
One week later it's Lynn's turn to face a former team as the Buffalo Bills head to StubHub Center. Lynn served as running backs coach, offensive coordinator and interim head coach over the past two years for the Bills.
Next, the Chargers take the national stage in the highly-anticipated Thanksgiving game in Dallas that features some of the top rookies from last season. The Cowboys boast the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott while Los Angeles features Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa and Hunter Henry.
Visits from the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins kick off the Bolts' December slate. The Chargers then return to primetime one week later for a Saturday night showdown in Arrowhead against the Chiefs. Finally, they hit the road for the last time to play the New York Jets on Christmas Eve before ending the regular season at home against the Raiders on New Year's Eve.
The Bolts are set to face a whopping 57 Pro Bowlers in 2017.