The Chargers’ “Fight for L.A.” — the slogan they’ve used as the rallying cry in their move from San Diego to Los Angeles this offseason — will get about as good a start as the team could’ve hoped.
With immense pressure to win right away as they enter a new market, the Chargers’ 2017 schedule begins with the team’s claiming the national and local spotlight.
A Monday night opener and then three straight games at the StubHub Center in Carson give the team a shot to get off to a hot start and grab the attention it desperately needs.
“It’s a heck of a schedule,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said in a statement. “Like we have so many times, we get to open up in that second game of the ‘Monday Night Football’ doubleheader. Getting to do it in Denver, which is one of my favorite places to play, is as good as it gets. Then we have that three-week stretch to open our new home.
“That three-week stretch at StubHub Center can be a heck of a way for us to get fans excited and get us off to a good start, so that stands out too.”
The Chargers also will be on a big stage, playing the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. The team hadn’t played on Thanksgiving since 1969, the longest absence in the NFL.
“Every year I always wonder if that will ever be us playing in that game,” Rivers said. “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.”
The biggest quirk in the schedule involves four trips to the East Coast that are spread out throughout the season. The team’s bye, in Week 9, comes between games in New England and Jacksonville.
The season schedule:
Sept. 11: at Denver, 7:15 p.m. PT (ESPN) — The Chargers open the Anthony Lynn era on “Monday Night Football” against the team with which the rookie coach won Super Bowl championships as a player. Lynn and new Denver coach Vance Joseph were also once teammates.
Sept. 17: MIAMI, 1 p.m. (Ch. 2) — In their home opener at StubHub Center, the Chargers will face Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, who broke out in a big way in 2016. It’s a tough test for Gus Bradley and the Chargers’ new defense.
Sept. 24: KANSAS CITY, 1:15 p.m. (Ch. 2) — The Chiefs haven’t lost to the Chargers since December 2013, a span that has included five decisions by eight points or less. The last time the Chargers beat Kansas City, Chase Daniel was the losing quarterback.
Oct. 1: PHILADELPHIA, 1 p.m. (Ch. 11) — Former Chargers Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles both ended up with the Eagles, so this game gives Philadelphia a chance to look at its 2023 starting running back, Melvin Gordon.
Oct. 8: at New York Giants, 10 a.m. (Ch. 2) — Eli Manning didn’t want to be drafted by the Chargers and forced a trade to the Giants. Thirteen years later, Manning is still trying to beat his “former” team, having lost three meetings.
Oct. 15: at Oakland, 1:15 p.m. (Ch. 2) — With the Raiders’ days in Oakland numbered, the Chargers will look to turn it around in front of the Black Hole. After winning in eight of nine trips there, the Chargers have dropped two in a row in Oakland.
Oct. 22: DENVER, 1:15 p.m. (Ch. 2) — The Chargers’ top free-agent signee, offensive tackle Russell Okung, will square off against his former teammates, including Von Miller, one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
Oct 29: at New England, 10 a.m. (Ch. 2) — The defending Super Bowl champs host the Chargers in a battle of two of the NFL’s most productive quarterbacks of the last decade-plus, Rivers and Tom Brady.
Nov. 5: Off.
Nov. 12: at Jacksonville, 10 a.m. (Ch. 2) — The Chargers defense will be in the spotlight as coordinator Bradley returns to face the team he coached for four seasons before being fired last season.
Nov. 19: BUFFALO, 1 p.m. (Ch. 11) — Lynn faces the team and franchise with which he made a meteoric rise, moving from running backs coach to offensive coordinator to head coach in a 16-game span.
Nov. 23: at Dallas, 1:30 p.m. (Ch. 2) — The Chargers will spend half their season playing in the NFL’s most modest stadium in Carson and, in a massive contrast, they’ll spend Thanksgiving in the league’s most extravagant cathedral.
Dec. 3: CLEVELAND, 1 p.m. (Ch. 2) — The Chargers can get revenge for one of their worst performances a season ago, when they lost to the winless Browns after Josh Lambo missed an attempt at a last-second field goal that would’ve forced overtime.
Dec. 10: WASHINGTON, 1 p.m. (Ch. 2) — The football team from Washington plays in the Los Angeles area for the first time since 1994, when it closed out the Rams’ tenure in Anaheim by beating them on Christmas Eve.
Dec. 16: at Kansas City, 5:15 p.m. (NFL Network) — Last season, the Chargers opened the season in Kansas City. In a sign of what the season was to become, Keenan Allen was injured and a late lead was blown, resulting in a heartbreaking loss. This year, the Chargers go there with for a late-season Saturday night battle.
Dec. 24: at New York Jets, 10 a.m. (Ch. 2) — Another of Lynn’s former teams. He learned the duties required to run a team while with the Jets, taking on a lot of Rex Ryan’s work after he named Lynn associate head coach.
Dec. 31: OAKLAND, 1:15 p.m. (Ch. 2) — If the Raiders live up to expectations and if the Chargers live up to their potential, the regular-season finale has a chance to be one of the toughest (and most expensive) tickets in the Los Angeles area this year.
Dates and times for the Chargers’ preseason games also were announced: Aug. 13, Seattle, 5 p.m.; Aug. 20, New Orleans, 5 p.m.; Aug. 26 at Rams, 5 p.m.; Aug. 31, at 49ers, 7 p.m.