The San Diego Chargers are 3-5 at the midway point of the season, despite having placed 17 players on injured reserve this season. Now, the Tennessee Titans bring one of the league’s toughest running games to San Diego in a game that Chargers fans have to see as a must-win for their Bolts.
Despite all of the injuries this team has suffered this season, the Chargers have been in every game. Philip Rivers is putting together another terrific season and Melvin Gordon has turned it around in a major way from his rookie season. Defensively, Casey Hayward has stepped up in the secondary and Denzel Perryman continues to show that he is a special player. Plus, first-round pick Joey Bosa looks like he can be one of the game’s dominant pass-rushers.
There’s plenty of hope for the future, but the 2016 season is not lost just yet. However, a loss at home to the Titans and it could be. So, what do the writers from Bolt Beat have to say? How do each of them seeing this game go down? We asked them that question, and their answers are below. Each writer’s win-loss record for the season is in parenthesis.
Conor Denton (4-2): “San Diego has their backs against the wall. Another loss before the bye week essentially ends all postseason hopes. The Titans are better than people are giving them credit for. However, I don’t see them traveling across the country and beating the Chargers at home. Expect John Pagano to sell out on the run early and force Mariota to beat him. If Rivers can shake off a bad performance last week and give the Bolts an early lead, they should be able to win this one quite comfortably. San Diego wins 34-17.”
John Burress (1-5): “The winning streak starts here!!! Chargers D creates havoc in the Titans backfield while Gordon and Rivers go nuts against the ex Oilers. Bolts by 9.”
Kevin Valenzuela (2-0): “While the Titans will be a tough game with Demarco Murray reemerging as an elite RB, Marcus Mariota making strides in his 2nd year, and a stingy defense, I still expect the Chargers to continue to try and establish the running game and Philip to pick the defense apart. The Bolts do have a lot of injuries this week so it’s important that we try and keep the defense off the field as much as possible. But I believe that Melvin Gordon is really starting to hit his stride and will have a good game and the Chargers will win a close and gritty game 24-20.”
Louis Gorini (6-2): “This next game is a must win for the Chargers. San Diego is a better team than Tennessee. Only problem is, the Chargers are throwing out a bunch of 3rd string and practice squad players on Sunday. Due to injuries, San Diego is extremely inexperienced in the middle of their defense. The Titans will be able to exploit the middle of the field. My heart says the Chargers defeat the Titans, days before the San Diego new stadium vote. But my brain thinks the Chargers don’t have enough fire power to defeat Tennessee. For the first time this season, I’m going with my heart on this one. Chargers 21 Titans 17.”
Sean Begler (4-4): “Another loss more than likely seals the Chargers offseason fate. This game, including all that remain for the rest of the season, is a must win. The Tennessee Titians are a decent team who are also fighting for a potential playoff spot, so don’t expect them to concede easily. The Titians have a dynamic running back combo in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, their offense for the most part is placed on their shoulders. If the Chargers defense can stop the run game holding them to field goals, the Chargers offense should be able to outscore the Titans. I predict this game going to the Chargers 27-24.”
Bill Burgin (3-2): “Mariota will be the deciding factor in Sunday’s game, if the defense can contain him Chargers win, if not things can get ugly. I think the Chargers defense will realize how important this game is and rally to beat the Titans 27-21.”
Matt Pagels (5-3): “I was wrong about the Chargers beating the Broncos. They had their chances (how do you not run the ball when you’re at the 2-yard line?), but they couldn’t pull off the win. Still, winning two-of-three games against the best defense (Denver) and best offense (Atlanta) is impressive. This is a big game against Tennessee, and it’s now time for the Bolts to go on a winning streak. If they do, a shot at the playoffs is realistic because of a weak AFC (even NFL.com believes in the Chargers..crazy, right?). It starts with the Titans, and Bolts will get this win.”
Travis Wakeman (4-4): “I believe the Titans might be the most underrated team in the league. Their offensive line is stout and if it wins the battle up front and that running game gets going, the Titans can run right over you… literally. But the Chargers are like the cat with 9 lives. This team just keeps getting up and fighting back despite 17…. SEVENTEEN players being on injured reserve and we’re only halfway through the season. I think home-field advantage is the difference in this game and the Chargers will win because they have Philip Rivers, who throws a late touchdown to keep the Chargers’ season alive. Chargers 20, Titans 19.”
Writers picking San Diego- 7
Writers picking Tennessee- 1
What do you guys think? Let us know who wins this game and how in the comments section below.