4 takeaways from Chargers’ 2024 schedule

The NFL released the 2024 schedule for all 32 teams last week, giving fans their first opportunity to examine the gauntlet their favorite team will run through as they chase the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl. The Chargers’ schedule was no different, as the NFL gave LA a few opportunities to prove themselves in their first season under new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Here are four things to take away from the schedule release.

Harbaugh Bowl in primetime

It seems only right that the first matchup between the Harbaugh brothers in Jim’s return to the NFL is under the brightest lights possible. While Jim has been away leading Michigan to a national championship, John has remained the coach of the Baltimore Ravens, who will travel to Los Angeles the week of Thanksgiving for Monday Night Football on ESPN. The matchup also brings two of the best quarterbacks in the league to primetime television, with Lamar Jackson leading the Ravens against Chargers franchise quarterback Justin Herbert. New Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz also spent 25 years with the Ravens climbing through the front office ranks.

No Thursday Night Football

The Chargers are one of only six teams not to be featured on Thursday Night Football in 2024, joining the Panthers, Colts, Jaguars, Titans, and Cardinals. Of those six teams, Los Angeles has the most primetime games this season with three—two on Monday Night Football and one on Sunday Night Football. Most Thursday Night Football matchups are divisional showdowns, but Las Vegas and Kansas City are booked for the Black Friday game on Amazon Prime this year. That would leave the Broncos, who will instead appear on Amazon’s broadcast against the Saints in Sean Payton’s return to New Orleans. Instead, the Chargers’ divisional matchup with the Chiefs in Week 14 will be on Sunday night on NBC.

Key home stretch

After traveling to Cleveland in Week 9, the Chargers get three straight AFC opponents at home in consecutive weeks, which could ultimately be a key stretch for a potential playoff push. LA plays Tennessee in Week 10, Cincinnati in Week 11, and has the aforementioned Baltimore game in Week 12 before going on the road to face Atlanta and Kansas City in Weeks 13 and 14. While the Titans may not be a consensus playoff contender, LA’s last four games against Tennessee have ended with a total score differential of 2 points in the Titans’ favor. If quarterback Will Levis takes a step forward with a renovated wide receiver corps, it’ll be a hard-fought game on both sides. Cincinnati and Baltimore, assuming both teams stay healthy, are much more obvious contenders for the playoffs and, thus, could be more important obstacles for the Chargers. A win streak during the home stretch could prove key for playoff contention and positioning if LA held head-to-head wins over the Bengals and Ravens, at least one of whom will be relegated to wild card contention. Wins over all three teams in that stretch would also do wonders for Los Angeles’ conference record, a key playoff tiebreaker.

Second straight Week 5 bye

For the second year in a row, the Chargers will have their bye week during Week 5, leaving them with 13 consecutive game weeks to close the season. Los Angeles is one of four teams to have the earliest possible bye week, joining Detroit, Philadelphia, and Tennessee. On one hand, that could prove useful to a team adjusting to new systems on offense and defense. Four weeks of game tape with a full week off to review what’s being executed correctly and not and tweak things could result in a team firing on all cylinders coming out of the bye. That could be a recipe for the Chargers making a run into late winter. On the other hand, we’ve seen what such an early bye week has done to the Chargers injury-wise before. Yes, the hope is that Ben Herbert mitigates some of those issues with his magic strength and conditioning program. But Los Angeles lost a ton of contributors down the stretch as the wear and tear of the season wore on them, and that looms as a concern with such an early bye. That’s especially true with so many players with lengthy injury histories on the roster in 2024.

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire