clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The 5 O'Clock Club: Game day - Chargers edition

New, comments

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Oakland Raiders v San Diego Chargers Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

The Chargers are 6-6, one of three teams in the AFC West with a .500 record. In an odd situation, the Chargers are one game shy of qualifying for an AFC wildcard spot, but only a tiebreaker prevents them from being first in their division at the moment. With the Kansas City Chiefs on a 4-game skid, the Chargers have every reason to think that they can get into the playoffs — not as a wildcard team — but as division champs.

They are likely to be fired up and ready to play inspired football this week in Los Angeles against the Redskins, who, conversely, have a losing record and have been practically (if not yet mathematically) eliminated from the playoffs.

Prediction from Ellliott Harrison at NFL.com

A few recent headlines from Bolts from the Blue

Chargers vs. Redskins: Five Keys to Victory

The Los Angeles Chargers face a talented Redskins team on Sunday. Can the defense continue its dominance against a quality quarterback?

Applying Pressure to Cousins

With Redskins tackles Morgan Moses and Trent Williams dealing with injuries, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will have all the opportunity to get after the quarterback. So far this season, Cousins has been sacked 35 times. By comparison, Philip Rivers has only been sacked 13 times.

The Chargers have no problem applying pressure and it will be paramount against a Washington offense that loves to air it out. Although he only has eight interceptions on the year, Cousins is prone to making mistakes.

Feeding Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry

Keenan Allen has had a historic three-game stretch and will look to carry that momentum yet again. Allen will be matched up against Josh Norman, one of the best corners in the NFL. However, the Chargers could use Allen as a decoy and attack the rest of Washington’s subpar secondary.

It’s old news by now, but whenever the Chargers target Hunter Henry five or more times a game, they almost always win. When they don’t they are 0-5. Something tells me that Henry will yet again get his fair share of targets against a suspect defense.

Field Goal Kicking

Nothing is more stressful than watching the Bolts attempt a field goal. Now that Travis Coons is around, the stress level may be a little lower.

After missing his first attempt against Cleveland, he made his next four and gained some confidence. Coons doesn’t have the strongest leg, but if he is automatic from about 40 yards, he’s doing his job.

Protecting the football

Of late, Rivers has done a great job of taking care of the football. He hasn’t thrown a pick in three games and is having one of his best campaigns in recent years. At the moment, the Bolts are plus-11 in turnover differential.

In the last five games, Rivers has thrown the ball at least 30 times. Assuming the trend continues, Rivers can’t force throws down the field. More often than not, Rivers will take a chance and try to make a big play on his own. He needs to play within himself and try not to play hero ball.

Stop the Run

Heading into week 14, the Los Angeles Chargers have the second-worst run defense in the NFL. Although the Redskins don’t have a premiere back, Washington has an intriguing rookie in Samaje Perine.

Even though Los Angeles’ defense has been stellar thus far, the Achilles heel for the unit has been stopping the run. Teams have taken advantage of a weak linebacking corps. The return of Denzel Perryman has helped, but there is still plenty to exploit.

What I didn’t expect from this years team: Thriving on turnovers and big plays

Defensively, the Chargers are 3rd in interceptions per drive & 4th in turnovers per drive. Coming into the year I thought they’d be a bend but don’t break defense that would be pretty good in the red zone. They’re great at limiting teams in the red zone. How the Chargers have managed to take the ball away from teams has been more impressive. We saw it on national TV last week.

Up front you’re seeing Joey Bosa & Melvin Ingram lineup on the same side. That’s created a lot of havoc. You’re also seeing Ingram move around move than ever. He & Chris McCain will often stand up and line up over the center or guard. Confusion creates missed blocks. Missed blocks create quarterbacks chucking and ducking. Chucking and ducking creates turnovers.

If I told you Melvin Gordon was 4th in the NFL in most rushes over 10 yards there’s no way you’d believe me. I still don’t fully believe it. We’ve seen what Austin Ekeler can do subbing in for him. Give him some room to work with as a receiver or runner and Ekeler might be more dangerous. As for Phillip Rivers, he’s tied for 10th with most passes going over 25 yards. I imagine he’d be higher if the offense wasn’t being run through Gordon the first month of the season. Now that the team is opening it up we’re seeing an offense that many fans expected to see coming into the season.

We’re seeing Keenan Allen be the focal point of the offense. That’s doing wonders, it seems. Opening everyone else up. Maybe more importantly, taking the pressure of everyone else. Travis Benjamin can just be a deep threat. He & Keenan are in the upper half of the league in catches over 25 yards. Hunter Henry is slowly but surely taking the reigns as the 2nd threat on this team. Sprinkle in a Tyrell Williams touch here and there and the potential for big plays are everywhere. That’s something the team has been relying on. The run game hasn’t quite worked itself out this year. That’s something I didn’t expect to see, either. But with the weapons on the perimeter, the big plays aren’t going to stop anytime soon.

Casey Hayward Wins AFC Defensive Player of the Month

Hayward doesn’t just pass the eye test. According to Pro Football Focus, Hayward is their highest rated cornerback this season and has claimed three of the five highest graded weekly performances in 2017.

As the Chargers defense continues to improve, much of the credit should go to Hayward. When Hayward shuts down opposing quarterbacks favorite weapons, it can change an entire offensive gameplan. Trusting him in one-on-one situations has allowed defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to send extra pressure on passing downs.

Last season, the Chargers signed Hayward to a three-year $15.3 million deal to be their slot cornerback. After injuries forced him to play outside, it became immediately clear that Hayward was a special player.

Philip Rivers Is About to Be the NFL’s Longest-Running Iron Man...And He’s Not Happy About It

Phillip Rivers will have the longest active streak of consecutive games at 186 this Sunday. Jason Witten is the next closest, at 172.

Instead of cheering, Rivers was understandably perturbed by this news. Philip did not mince words in any way, shape, or form.

Fine, I’m Buying in on a Los Angeles Chargers Playoff Run

John Gennaro can see the Chargers going deep into the playoffs despite their currently 5-6 record. Can you?

A lot can change, and has changed, with how we think of the Chargers’ late-game schedule since the start of the season. However, as of right now, this looks pretty weak:

vs. Cleveland Browns

vs. Washington Redskins

at Kansas City Chiefs

at New York Jets

vs. Oakland Raiders

With a strong offense alone, the Chargers should be able to outscore all of those teams. The dominant defense is a nice little cherry on top, and the Chargers’ solid record of health this season is a big reason why they’re getting better while those other teams are getting worse.

Cincinnati Bengals v San Diego Chargers Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Poll

Which of these players will have the biggest positive impact on the game for the Redskins today?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Samaje Perine
    (44 votes)
  • 4%
    Trent Williams
    (4 votes)
  • 9%
    Zach Brown
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    Vernon Davis
    (2 votes)
  • 6%
    Ryan Kerrigan
    (6 votes)
  • 5%
    Josh Norman
    (5 votes)
  • 11%
    Josh Doctson
    (10 votes)
  • 5%
    DJ Swearinger
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    Matt Ioannidis
    (2 votes)
86 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which quarterback will have the bigger day?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Kirk Cousins
    (32 votes)
  • 60%
    Phillip Rivers
    (50 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now
Oakland Raiders v San Diego Chargers Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images