NFL schedule: Chargers, Harbaugh have 3 prime-time games

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Sporting Tribune's Fernando Ramirez reports on the Los Angeles Chargers' schedule, which was released on Wednesday and begins at home.

COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Chargers released their schedule on Wednesday. At first glance, they have only three prime-time games, which was unexpected with former University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh taking the Chargers’ reins.

Those prime-time games are Oct. 21 at Arizona (Monday night) streaming on ESPN+, Nov. 25 vs. Baltimore (Monday night) on ESPN and Dec. 12 at Kansas City (Sunday night) on NBC.

The schedule release is the Super Bowl of social media teams. The last two years the Chargers have used anime to announce their schedule release. They used the popular video game “The Sims” to announce it this season.

Here is the full schedule:

Week 1: vs. Las Vegas Raiders

DATE/TIME/TV: Sept. 8, 1:05 p.m., CBS

SERIES HISTORY: Raiders lead series, 69-58-2

LAST MEETING: Dec. 14, 2023 — Raiders 63-21, at Las Vegas

QUICK THOUGHTS: There were rumors of Harbaugh coaching the Raiders since he was at Stanford. The Raiders strength is their pass rush while the Chargers beefed up their offensive line, so this will be a heavyweight fight. The Raiders have a lot of weapons that the Chargers defense needs to notice, including wide receiver Davante Adams and rookie tight end Brock Bowers. 

Week 2: at Carolina Panthers

DATE/TIME/TV: Sept. 15, 10 a.m., CBS

SERIES HISTORY: Panthers lead series, 6-1-0

LAST MEETING: Sept. 27, 2020, Panthers 21-16, at Los Angeles

QUICK THOUGHTS: Panthers coach Dave Canales has helped Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield turn their careers around. What he does for Bryce Young will be worth watching. The Chargers will find out quickly.

Week 3: at Pittsburgh Steelers

DATE/TIME/TV: Sept. 22, 10 a.m., CBS

SERIES HISTORY: Steelers lead series, 24-11-0

LAST MEETING: Nov. 21, 2021, Chargers 41-37 (OT), at Los Angeles

QUICK THOUGHTS: By this point, who knows if it will be Russell Wilson or Justin Fields starting? Both should test the defense while the Steelers will test Justin Herbert with T.J. Watt rushing the passer and Minkah Fitzpatrick at the safety position. Also, watching Mike Tomlin coach against Harbaugh will be fun.

Week 4: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

DATE/TIME: Sept. 29, 1:25 p.m., CBS

SERIES HISTORY: Chiefs lead series, 69-58-1

LAST MEETING: Jan. 7, Chiefs 13-12, at Los Angeles

QUICK THOUGHTS: This is the first installment of Harbaugh vs. Andy Reid since the former returned to the league. Kansas City has won the last five and the Chargers haven’t beat them since Brandon Staley’s first game with them. This also is a measuring stick for the Chargers against the Super Bowl champions. Besides, Herbert vs. Patrick Mahomes is always a great game.

Week 5: Bye week

Week 6: at Denver Broncos

DATE/TIME/TV: Oct. 13, 1:05 p.m., CBS

SERIES HISTORY: Broncos lead series, 73-55-1

LAST MEETING: Dec. 31, 2023, Broncos 16-9, at Denver

QUICK THOUGHTS: Sean Payton vs. Harbaugh should be an interesting matchup. Harbaugh owns a 3-1 record against Payton, but these are new teams and different players. The Broncos will feature a new quarterback and new weapons on offense. Their defense will look completely different without safety Justin Simmons. Patrick Surtain is still one of the best corners in the NFL.

Week 7: at Arizona Cardinals

DATE/TIME/TV: Oct. 21, 6 p.m., ESPN+ (streaming)

SERIES HISTORY: Chargers lead series, 11-4-0

LAST MEETING: Nov. 27, 2023, Chargers 25-24, at Arizona

QUICK THOUGHTS: There was a little frustration from Chargers fans after Matt Prater missed a 51-yard field goal that gave Arizona the fourth pick in the NFL Draft that allowed them to pick Marvin Harrison Jr. This game will feature the rookie receiver and quarterback Kyler Murray. 

Week 8: vs. New Orleans Saints

DATE/TIME/TV: Oct. 27, 1:05 p.m., FOX

SERIES HISTORY: Chargers lead series, 7-6-0

LAST MEETING: Oct. 12, 2020, Saints 30-27 (OT), at New Orleans

QUICK THOUGHTS: Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa and Derwin James are familiar with Saints quarterback Derek Carr. Expect them to try and get after Carr to disrupt him as they have in the past. Carr’s offense features Chris Olave, who is a dynamic young receiver that can do everything. New Orleans defense features Tyrann Mathieu and Marshon Lattimore.

Week 9: at Cleveland Browns

DATE/TIME/TV: Nov. 3, 10 a.m., CBS

SERIES HISTORY: Chargers lead series, 19-9-1

LAST MEETING: Oct. 9, 2022, Chargers 30-28, at Cleveland

QUICK THOUGHTS: The Browns featured a top three defense in 2023, so it will be a challenge for the Chargers offense. Their offense will feature Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper, so the secondary will be tested.

Week 10: vs. Tennessee Titans

DATE/TIME/TV: Nov. 10, 1:05 p.m., FOX

SERIES HISTORY: Chargers lead series 29-19-1

LAST MEETING: Sept. 17, 2023, Titans 27-24 (OT), at Tennessee

QUICK THOUGHTS: The Titans are a mystery because they have a lot of good pieces but it will be on new coach Brian Callahan to get the most out of them. They will be a good test for the Chargers offense, especially with Jeffrey Simmons and T’Vondre Sweat at defensive tackle and the addition of L’Jarius Sneed from the Chiefs.

Week 11: vs. Cincinnati Bengals

DATE/TIME/TV: Nov. 17, 1:25 p.m., CBS

SERIES HISTORY: Chargers lead series, 23-15-0

LAST MEETING: Dec. 5, 2021, Chargers 41-22, at Cincinnati

QUICK THOUGHTS: This will be Joe Burrow vs. Herbert II, adding a lot to this matchup. Both quarterbacks are from the same draft class, so they will be tied until the end. How the Chargers guard Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins will be something to watch. Also, the Bengals have a solid pass rush with Trey Hendrickson.

Week 12: vs. Baltimore Ravens

DATE/TIME/TV: Nov. 25, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

SERIES HISTORY: Ravens lead series, 9-6-0

LAST MEETING: Nov. 26, 2023, Ravens 20-10, at Los Angeles 

QUICK THOUGHTS: This will be the much anticipated Harbaugh Bowl (Jim’s Chargers vs. John’s Ravens). Jim hired several members of the Ravens organization, so that will be a factor. Also, it will be a measuring stick for the Chargers because Baltimore is one of the better teams in the AFC.

Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons

DATE/TIME/TV: Dec. 1, 10 a.m., CBS

SERIES HISTORY: Falcons lead series, 8-4-0

LAST MEETING: Nov. 6, 2022 — Chargers 20-17, at Atlanta 

QUICK THOUGHTS: Kirk Cousins is the new quarterback for the Falcons, who will most likely be improved. They have Drake London, Bijan Robinson and Kyle Pitts, who are three dynamic weapons. Raheem Morris should help improve a defense that continues to grow. 

Week 14: at Kansas City Chiefs

DATE/TIME/TV: Dec. 8, 5:20 p.m., NBC

SERIES HISTORY: Chiefs lead series 69-58-1

LAST MEETING: Jan. 7, Chiefs 13-12, at Los Angeles

QUICK THOUGHTS: It will be interesting to see how the Chargers look at this point. Plus, Mahomes vs. Herbert and Reid vs. Harbaugh for the second time.

Week 15: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

DATE/ TIME/TV: Dec. 15, 1:25 p.m., FOX

SERIES HISTORY: Chargers lead series, 8-4-0

LAST MEETING: Oct. 4, 2020, Buccaneers 38-31, at Tampa Bay

QUICK THOUGHTS: The Bucs took some teams by surprise last year, even with Tom Brady’s departure. Baker Mayfield took them back to the playoffs and they have a lot of talent on offense with receivers Mike Evans and Chris Goodwin. On defense, the Bucs have safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who flies all over the field. 

Week 16: vs. Denver Broncos

DATE/TIME/TV: Dec. 22, 1:05 p.m., FOX

SERIES HISTORY: Broncos lead series, 73-55-1

LAST MEETING: Dec. 31, 2023, Broncos 16-9, at Denver

QUICK THOUGHTS: Second crack at the Denver Broncos.

Week 17: at New England Patriots

DATE/TIME/TV: Dec. 28 or 29, time TBA, TV TBA

SERIES HISTORY: Patriots lead series, 27-16-2

LAST MEETING: Dec. 6, 2023, Chargers 6-0, at New England

QUICK THOUGHTS: Will it be Jacoby Brissett or Drake Maye? That will be something to watch. Don’t expect the same scoreline as last season as this should be a higher scoring game. But with the weather late in December, you never know.

Week 18: at Las Vegas Raiders

DATE/TIME/TV: Jan. 4 or 5; time TBA, TV TBA

SERIES HISTORY: Raiders lead series 69-58-2

LAST MEETING: Dec. 14, 2023, Raiders 63-21, at Las Vegas

QUICK THOUGHTS: They finish the season in Vegas. Will it be the end of the season or a game before the playoffs?