The 2023 Chargers schedule is out.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the Bolts schedule:
1. High-octane home opener
Get your popcorn ready early as the Chargers will host the Dolphins in Week 1 in a matchup of AFC playoff teams from a year ago.
The Dolphins had one of the league's most explosive offenses in 2022 but were stymied at SoFi Stadium in December when the Bolts defense limited them to just 219 net yards.
Can Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley put together another masterful gameplan to slow down the Dolphins?
And the other side of the ball will be fascinating, too, as Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore makes his debut with the Bolts. The Chargers offense will face a tough task against a unit that now includes cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was traded to Miami this offseason.
Miami will surely want to get off on the right foot as they look to compete for an AFC East title, while the Bolts will be vying for their second straight home win in a season opener.
2. A massive season finale
The AFC West crown (and a top playoff seed) could be on the line in Week 18.
The Chargers host the Chiefs and could be looking to break all sorts of streaks in the season finale.
For one, the Bolts surely know that Kansas City has won nine road straight games against them. And the Chiefs are also riding a seven-season streak of winning the AFC West.
Perhaps a potential Chargers win in Week 18 snaps both of them?
For now, the date and time of this game is TBD. But the stakes are high — and there's plenty of reason to think they could be — don't be surprised if this is a primetime game.
One final thing to note: the Chargers will be at home in the season finale for the first time since 2017.
3. Need a fast start
The Bolts open at home against Miami before back-to-back road games against the Titans (Week 2) and Vikings (Week 3). Then comes a Week 4 home game against the Raiders in the first division game of the season.
Given the gauntlet of the Chargers schedule late in the season (more on that later), the Bolts would be wise to get off to a fast start in the first month of the season.
We hit on the Dolphins game above, but the Titans tilt is another rematch from the 2022 season. The Bolts won that one in gritty fashion and Week 2 in Nashville figures to be the same.
The Week 3 matchup in Minnesota pits Staley against one of his best friends in Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell in one of the most fascinating matchups of the season.
The Bolts then return home for a matchup against the Raiders, a team the Chargers obviously know well and usually play close games with.
Staley will undoubtedly have his team focused on a quick start in the first month.
4. An early bye week
The Chargers have an early bye week this season in Week 5.
That's among the earliest weeks a team can have a bye.
And while most teams usually prefer a midseason break, the Chargers will play the schedule as it's constructed … even if it means 13 straight games to close out the season.
5. Here come the primetime games
The schedule lights up with primetime games after the bye, with three of the following four games under the bright lights.
The Bolts host Dallas on Monday Night Football in Week 6 as they welcome one of the league's most well-known teams. Moore also gets a chance to face his former team as he spent the past four seasons as the Cowboys offensive coordinator.
The Chargers are then back in primetime at home against Chicago on Sunday Night Football in Week 8.
Then comes perhaps the most high-profile game of the season, a Monday Night Football clash with the Jets in Week 9. And while the travel back to the West Coast will be tough, the chance to see Justin Herbert against Aaron Rodgers on the big stage will be worth it.
The Bolts are slated to play six primetime games in 2023, with the three above making up the first half of them. All will off a different kind of test for a Bolts team that has a chance to make a statement in the second quarter of the season.
Oh, yeah. The game sandwiched in between all those primetime contests? Week 7 in Kansas City, which just might be the toughest game of the entire season.
All in all, the Chargers have six primetime games, the most a team can have.
6. NFC tilts at the halfway point
With 18 weeks on the slate, the Bolts will shift their focus to the NFC at the midway point of the season.
The Bolts host the Lions in Week 10 on a short week after the Jets game. This could be a battle of two of the league's top offenses at this point in the season.
The Chargers then hit the road for a Week 11 game in Green Bay and a rare matchup at Lambeau Field. The Bolts will play at the historic venue for just the sixth time in team history.
Given how competitive the AFC should be this season, don't discount these pair of NFC games at the halfway point. If the Bolts win both, they'll have plenty of momentum for the final two months.
Take a detailed look at who the Bolts will face in the 2023 season!!
7. An all-AFC in the home stretch
All eyes will be on the AFC playoff field from Week 12 on as the Chargers close out the season with seven straight games against conferences foes.
The Bolts alternate home and away games down the stretch beginning with a Sunday Night Football clash against the Ravens in Week 12 at SoFi Stadium.
Derwin James, Jr., vs. Lamar Jackson? Sign us up for that.
The Bolts then travel to New England (hello, J.C. Jackson's homecoming) before hosting the Broncos.
A quick turnaround to Las Vegas in Week 15 close out the Bolts-Raiders 2023 matchups with a game on Thursday Night Football. This is the Chargers lone Thursday game of the season.
The Bolts then get a mini-bye before yet another primetime game in Week 16 against Buffalo on Saturday night at home. Then it's a trip to Mile High before hosting the Chiefs in the season finale.
The final seven games feature plenty of storylines and big-time opponents, but the common theme is that they are all against AFC foes.
If the Bolts are in contention for a playoff spot entering Week 12, they will certainly earn their way in given the tough slate.
8. Short rest for pair of AFC West road games
The Chargers will play at the Chiefs in Week 7 on short rest and stop me if you've heard that before.
The Bolts did the same thing last year as they played at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night in Week 2.
They get a few extra days this time around, but a Monday to Sunday turnaround is never easy, especially when you have to go to Kansas City following a matchup against Dallas.
The Chargers play on Thursday night in Week 15 this season … and it's another divisional game on the road on short rest.
Granted, the trip to Las Vegas is perhaps the closest flight the Bolts could have, but this marks the fifth time in six years that the Thursday night game is on the road at a divisional foe.
9. Seeing the Broncos late
The Bolts went 2-4 in their division in 2022 and will be looking to better that record this season.
A pair of late-season games against Denver could be critical to both the Chargers playoff hopes and their AFC west chances.
The Bolts host the Broncos in Week 14 and then turn around and head to Denver in Week 17.
That's a fairly quick turnaround as far as the same division opponent goes.
It will be interesting to see where the Broncos are at that point in the season under first-year head coach Sean Payton.
10. Avoiding the cold
At first glance, the Chargers could have had as many as five cold weather games in 2023 with road tilts in Denver, Kansas City, New England, New York and Green Bay.
(Yes, it gets cold in Minnesota but the Vikings play indoors).
Let's count it as a win that the Bolts play just two games where weather could be a factor: Week 13 at New England and Week 17 at Denver.
Honestly, the Chargers wouldn't complain about the weather and would play anywhere and in any conditions.
But only getting two cold weather games is better than three or four.
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