Game Overview ::
By Mjohnson86 >>
- The Chargers are seeking the coveted 5-seed which would avoid a first-round game with the Chiefs, Bills, or Bengals – however, there is also a path to them not needing a win in order to secure that spot.
- Denver gave Kansas City a good game last week and they are always very competitive at home.
- The Broncos do not own their first-round pick and a win would be a positive note to end an unbelievably disappointing season.
- This should be a very competitive and spirited AFC West battle to end the season.
How LOs Angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Chargers have found their way into the playoffs with a fast-paced offense and a defense that has had ups and downs but has found ways to make plays at the right times this season. Los Angeles will be either the 5-seed or 6-seed in the AFC, with Sunday’s games determining exactly where they end up. The difference between the #5 and #6 seeds is relatively large, with the better seed getting to face either the Titans or Jaguars in the first round of the playoffs rather than the Bills or Bengals. The Ravens travel to Cincinnati for a 1:00 pm game on Sunday and if the Ravens lose that game (they are currently 9-point underdogs with a 17% implied probability to win) then the Chargers will be locked into the 5th seed regardless of the outcome of their game and will be aware of that fact when their game starts. The Chargers will have to submit their list of inactive players before knowing the outcome of the Ravens game, so we should expect them to have all of their key players dressed and ready, but if the Ravens lose then this game could quickly be turned into a glorified preseason game for many of the key Chargers players.
From a philosophical standpoint, the Chargers have built their offense as a high-volume passing unit that also plays with great tempo – ranking 5th in the NFL in both Pass Rate Over Expectation and Situation Neutral Pace of Play. The Chargers passing game operates primarily in the short and intermediate areas of the field, mixing in occasional deep shots that become more frequent when their backs are against the wall and/or when big play receiver Mike Williams is healthy. The Chargers have run the ball a bit more lately and have been using backup running back Joshua Kelley more consistently to spell Austin Ekeler in running situations. The Denver defense was lights out for the first half of the season but has dropped off considerably of late – allowing 31.8 points per game over the last four weeks (albeit, two of those games were against the Chiefs and one was the Christmas Day “we’re not playing for Hackett anymore” performance). If the Chargers need to win and their offense is all systems go, we should expect them to continue their renewed focus on their running game (the relative weakness of the Broncos defense) and pepper short-area targets to Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler, as they did in their first matchup where they actively avoided challenging star Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain who was shadowing Mike Williams.