By Dave Thomas
With eight games in the books, the Los Angeles Chargers are now in their bye week.
After winning three straight following an 0-4 start to the season, the Bolts wasted a number of opportunities in their most recent contest, dropping a 21-13 decision on the road in New England to the Super Bowl champions.
So where do things head from here?
Bolts Need Strong Start To Second Half Of Season
In order to start the second half of the season the right way, the Chargers will need a strong performance when they head to Jacksonville for a Nov. 12 meeting with the Jaguars. To date, the Jags (4-3) are sitting in a two-way tie (Tennessee) for the lead in the AFC South. A season ago, the Chargers dominated the visiting Jags in rolling to a 38-14 victory.
From there, Los Angeles will come home to Carson, California to host the Buffalo Bills. Like Jacksonville, Buffalo has also been a surprise this season, sporting a 5-2 record heading into action against the New York Jets on Nov. 2.
A quick turnaround then leads to a Thanksgiving Day clash in Dallas with the Cowboys. If Los Angeles can come out of November with a 2-1 or even 3-0 mark, it will keep itself in the hunt for an AFC playoff spot come January.
Keeping Gordon Healthy
In their loss to New England, the Chargers wasted a solid performance from starting running back Melvin Gordon. Battling injuries this season, Gordon rushed for 132 yards and a TD against the Patriots. For the season, Gordon has accumulated 526 yards on the ground on 131 carries. Altogether, he has eight touchdowns this season, with four on the ground and four through the air.
Although veteran QB Philip Rivers (2,028 yards passing, 13 TD’s, 6 INT’s) has proven he can still get the job done, a healthy Gordon takes pressure off of the signal caller.
The second half of the season also needs to see second-year tight end Hunter Henry get more catches. Through eight games, Henry has 23 receptions for 312 yards and a pair of scores.
Bosa And Ingram Wrecking Havoc
On the other side of the ball, defensive ends Melvin Ingram (31 tackles, 8.5 sacks) and Joey Bosa (38 tackles, 8.5 sacks) have proven to be nightmares for opposing offensive linemen. If both can keep up this pace in the second half of the season, the Chargers are more than likely going to be in most games heading into the fourth quarter.
While the Los Angeles pass rush has been potent at times, the loss to the Patriots showed that more work is still needed. Although he is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, Brady had too many occasions where he had all kinds of time to pass or even run the ball if he wanted to. Clamping down on opposing QB’s over the last eight games of the season will be imperative for this Chargers team.
If Los Angeles wants to make its first season in its temporary home a memorable one, it will likely need to win six of its final eight games to have a decent shot at a wild card spot.
So enjoy the bye week and look forward to what should be an exciting eight games of football.
- Nov. 12 – at Jacksonville
- Nov. 19 – BUFFALO
- Nov. 23 – at Dallas
- Dec. 3 – CLEVELAND
- Dec. 10 – WASHINGTON
- Dec. 16 – at Kansas City
- Dec. 24 – at New York Jets
- Dec. 31 – OAKLAND