By Dave Thomas
Sitting at 3-5, the Los Angeles Chargers look to kick off the second half of their season in style when they visit Jacksonville Sunday.
Coming off of the bye week, the Chargers know that the margin for error over these last eight games is slim, to say the least.
Currently tied with Denver (3-5) for third place in the AFC West, the Bolts have to win six of their remaining eight contests to realistically have a shot at an AFC playoff berth. Of course, winning all eight games would all but guarantee the Chargers a return trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Bolts Not Dealing With Major Injury Issues
One of the advantages of the bye week is it allows the team a chance to get healthy.
Although Los Angeles had some bumps and bruises after the loss to New England two Sundays ago, they head into the meeting with Jacksonville in pretty good shape. Of the handful of players battling injuries as of Friday, none are stars that the Chargers simply can’t afford to be without. That said, the all-hands-on-deck approach typically works better.
The Bolts are hoping for the return of linebacker Denzel Perryman on Sunday. Perryman, who recorded a team-leading 72 total tackles a season ago (56 solo stops), has been sidelined since the pre-season opener with an ankle injury. If he’s able to go against the Jags, it gives the Chargers yet one more weapon on defense.
That defense has been anchored so far this season by the play of defensive ends Melvin Ingram (8.5 sacks) and Joey Bosa (8.5 sacks), along with the efforts of linebacker Hayes Pullard (leads team with 59 total tackles). Pullard, who has been dealing with a neck injury, is listed as questionable for Sunday.
Can Chargers Run Table?
Now Los Angeles hopes to get their play going in the right direction, as they still have some tough AFC battles ahead.
The Chargers have to visit AFC West-leading Kansas City on Dec. 16, with a New Year’s Eve battle versus the 4-5 Oakland Raiders at home looming, too.
In looking back at the first half of the season, Los Angeles could have come out of play at 5-3, losing games in Denver and at home versus Miami that were certainly winnable. If they win both those games, they are right there in the AFC West race. As it stands, the Chargers find themselves in a logjam in terms of the AFC Wild Card race halfway through the season.
Heading into action this weekend, the Chargers sit behind Buffalo (5-3), Miami (4-4), and Baltimore (4-5). Meanwhile, New England (6-2), Pittsburgh (6-2), and both Tennessee (5-3) and Jacksonville (5-3) are in first place in their respective divisions.
The Chargers have some work to do in order to get to the top. While a win over the Jaguars is only one game, it would be a nice victory in the Chargers’ belts as they hope for a second-half run to post-season action.
Los Angeles reported the following injury update as of Friday:
- (LB) Denzel Perryman (Ankle) – Full Practice
- (C) Spencer Pulley (Knee) – Full Practice
- (OT) Joe Barksdale (Foot) – Did Not Practice
- (LB) Hayes Pullard (Neck) – Limited Practice