The Los Angeles Chargers go into Week 8 of the NFL season with a 2-4 record, they will travel to Denver, CO to play the Broncos.
Both teams will go into this game with 2-4 records and their season has largely been affected by bad luck and injuries.
The more troubling record is for the Chargers who have lost 7 straight AFC West divisional games, their last win was against this same Broncos team on December 30th, 2018
The Chargers woes in the AFC West have been well documented, however under a new quarterback with some games under his belt, after starting his first game against the defending AFC West and Super Bowl champions, the Chargers look to end that streak and start a new one this Sunday.
What has changed?
The 2018 season was a fantastic year for the Los Angeles Chargers, they finished the season 12-4 and even beat the Cheifs in Arrowhead Stadium almost claiming the AFC West that season. One of the things that were different from 2018 than any other normal Chargers season, was the lack of injuries suffered by the team.
For a large majority of the season, the Chargers stayed healthy and were able to show what a fully-healthy Chargers team was capable of.
Unfortunately, their season ended in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, on a cold day in Foxborough, MA where they were blown out by the Patriots.
Since that day in January, the Chargers injury woes returned and their luck seemed to run out, starting their slide in the AFC West and starting the 7 straight losses in divisional games.
If the Chargers lose this Sunday they will tie the Detroit Lions for the longest losing streak within a division with 8.
Things are different this year, however, and the Chargers have new hope under rookie quarterback Justin Herbert.
The Chargers 2020 season has been characterized by injuries, bad breaks, and several blown leads. However, the post-bye Chargers that got their first home win against the Jacksonville Jaguars looked like a very different team than we saw before the bye. There were two key players to the switch, and those players will be a big factor this week in their success against the Broncos and turning this season around.
The first one being Melvin Ingram, he had been placed on IR for the last three weeks and in his absence, the Chargers overall defense has struggled to stop the run and get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. When Ingram stepped on the field last week, everything changed. The Chargers defense had more first downs in the first quarter than the Jaguars has total yards. The defense played great out of the gate, however, they faltered as the game went on and it almost cost the Chargers the game.
Melvin Ingram helped rally the troops and finish out the game for the Chargers which they had struggled to do in previous weeks. Ingram did not record a sack in the game against Jacksonville, but his presence on the quarterback and his leadership on the defense made all of the difference in the game.
The second key player is more obvious, it’s rookie Justin Herbert. We spoke on him in our writeup last week about how the Chargers coaching staff had started to open up the playbook more for Herbert and were giving him more freedom with the offense. That showed in Week 7, the Chargers became more pass-heavy in early downs, which helped them to avoid big deficits on third downs and made the offense more efficient.
Anthony Lynn still wants to incorporate the run more, but Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson have simply not been efficient enough behind this makeshift offensive line to continue to run inefficiently. The Chargers lost their lead in the third quarter, but Justin Herbert led them back into the game with a strike to one of his favorite targets Jaylon Guyton for a 70-yard touchdown.
Herbert now leads the NFL in 50+ yard touchdowns with 4, and he’s playing at an extremely high level right now. The Chargers will look to continue to open up the playbook and help him develop as a quarterback which should only help the Chargers offense more.
The Chargers will need to continue to win the turnover battle and avoid costly mistakes against the Broncos this week.
This will be the Chargers first and only high altitude game this year, that will be something to keep an eye out for as conditioning really cant prepare you for the altitude in Colorado.
The Chargers will need to win this game to end their streak but also move up in the AFC West, as they get ready for an even more Challenging Raiders team next week.
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