Ben on the Bolts: Preseason predictions

SAN DIEGO - Every year, I’m asked to predict the Chargers final record, and every year, I’m tempted to go against the grain.

Everyone says the Chargers are a worse-than-average team? I’ll forecast an 11-5 season. Peter King is writing that the Chargers will win the Super Bowl? I’ll take 6-10, thank you very much.

If you think about it, there’s a certain logic to throwing logic out of the window.

Even the most seasoned football experts get many of their preseason predictions wrong.

An average of more than 5 new teams have made the playoffs every year since divisional realignment. It pays to go against the herd.

This year, most people are predicting a Chargers finish of somewhere between 6-10 and 8-8.

Sure, a few diehard Chargers fans paid a visit to Rose-Colored Lenscrafters, and think Mike McCoy is going to lead this team to the playoffs in his first season.

The doom-and-gloomers, meanwhile, are wondering whether the Chargers will take Jadeveon Clowney or Teddy Bridgewater with the first pick in the draft.

Despite my normally optimistic nature, it’s hard to avoid the harsh reality that the NFL is a rough sport, players will get injured, and the Chargers don’t have one of the deeper rosters in the league.

If a couple more key players go down for the season, 4-12 seems well within the range of probable outcomes.

Still, I find encouragement in the writing of Bill Barnwell from Grantland.com, who points out that the Chargers went 1-5 in games decided by 7 or less points last season, and still went 7-9. Teams like that generally improve the following year.

And while the Chargers roster is full of holes and question marks (O-line, secondary, D-line depth, wide receiver), these are basically the same problems that plagued the bolts in 2012, and they still managed 7 wins.

Is it possible the Chargers win a bunch of close games, and turn into a 10-win team, just like Tom Telesco’s previous franchise did? Of course it is. Should we expect that to happen? Not by a long shot.

So I’m left pondering the same numbers just about everyone else is…6-10, 7-9…boring and unoriginal.

Still, I want to make a unique prediction, and I want to back it up with an intelligent-sounding argument, so here it is…the Chargers will go 6-9-1 in 2013.

A tie? That sounds pretty dumb, Ben.

OK, I’ll admit ties are rare in the NFL. The Chargers, though, seem like a team that could pull it off.

A good enough defense to dominate a game in overtime, but an offense with enough holes to fail and cash in on any of the opportunities presented to them.

I can see that happening in one of the 16 games.

And I bet it’s the only 6-9-1 Chargers prediction you read about this season.

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