The Los Angeles Chargers (6-6) won their third straight game as they finished off the winless Cleveland Browns (0-12) with a final score of 19-10. It has been a miraculous season for the Chargers, as they have officially erased their 0-4 start to the season and sit in a three-way tie for the AFC West. They still have work to do and weaknesses to overcome, but the Chargers look poised for a playoff push.
Week 13 Los Angeles Chargers Takeaways
Chargers Offense Struggles to Score, yet Still Manages to Impress
Philip Rivers and the Chargers found yards incredibly easy to come by, but touchdowns eluded them. The offense stacked up over 400 yards and made it look easy. Unfortunately, that offensive explosion did not translate into many points, as they scored only one touchdown in their six redzone trips. Their kicking woes continued, as new kicker Travis Coons missed his first attempt of the day, from only 30 yards out. Coons turned it around, however, and made his next four.
Rivers was brilliant yet again, slinging the ball around the field to the tune of 344 yards and one touchdown. He has been on a tear of late, as in his last three games he has put up 1029 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions.
A big part of Rivers’ success of late has been the performance of veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen. Though he started the season slowly, he too has caught fire in recent weeks and has looked the part of a top five receiver. Allen’s numbers in the first nine games: 44 receptions for 596 yards and one touchdown. The Chargers went 3-6 in those nine games. Allen’s numbers in the last three games: 33 receptions for 436 yards, four touchdowns. The Chargers have won all three of those games. The Chargers should absolutely continue to feed Allen the football. Good things happen when he is targeted heavily.
Chargers Defense Seals the Victory, Avoids Another Collapse
The Chargers, in recent years, have been struggling to overcome two separate, persistent problems. First, they have been plagued by injuries. Second, they find creative ways to lose close games.
They seem to have more or less avoided the injury issue this season. They did lose promising rookie offensive lineman Forrest Lamp to an ACL injury in the preseason. Star corner Jason Verrett is out for the season as well. However, for the most part, this team is very healthy.
The Chargers still have a knack for losing games that they should have won. They lost their first two games on blown field goals, both of which were shorter than fifty yards. They found a way to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars by a field goal in overtime, despite intercepting Blake Bortles twice in the last few minutes of regulation. These close games are enough to drive any die hard Bolts fan into crippling depression that slowly gives way to merely a perennial pessimism towards their hometown faithful.
For these reasons, it was great to see the Chargers defense stand tough in the final few moments of the game this Sunday. Late in the fourth quarter, the Browns were mounting an impressive drive and looked poised to reduce the Chargers lead. However, Joey Bosa stripped the ball from rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, and linebacker Denzel Perryman recovered the ball. After the Chargers ran enough off the clock so that the game was likely out of reach, the Browns were knocking on the door again. This time, safety Adrian Phillips picked off an errant throw by the young Kizer, officially sealing the victory.
The Chargers made many mistakes in this game, but they made the plays that mattered. Hopefully, this signals a change for the Chargers fortune.
The Chargers and the Chiefs: Two Teams Trending in Opposite Directions
In Week Five of this season, the Kansas City Chiefs had just won their fifth game, still perfect on the season. The Chargers, meanwhile, barely managed their first win over the New York Giants, who were also winless at the time. The Chiefs looked poised to make a deep playoff push, and possibly win the Superbowl. The Chargers appeared destined for a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
That’s not the case any longer.
The Chiefs and Chargers sit tied for the division lead along with the Oakland Raiders.
The Chargers have caught fire, boasting an excellent offense and hard nosed defense that is particularly tough against the pass. They still have a few weaknesses, however. They often struggle on special teams, especially in the kicking game. This kicking situation is made worse by their penchant for burning out in the redzone, leading to empty possessions.
Still, even with these nagging handicaps, they look like the strongest team in the AFC West. The Chiefs have struggled in all facets of the game, but their formerly high-powered but suddenly pedestrian offense is chief among their concerns.
The Raiders have potential, but the Chargers, overall, have outperformed them: The Raiders rank 20th on total offense and 22nd on total defense, while the Chargers rank 10th on total offense and 17th on total defense. They also have the most difficult schedule of the three teams as they face the Cowboys and Eagles in addition to the Chargers and the Chiefs.
It’s going to be an exciting end to the AFC West, with all three teams playing each other once. Any of them could take it, bu the Chargers are clearly in the best position.
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