It’s still the preseason, but let’s take a look at the “most important” preseason game for the Los Angeles Chargers versus the Los Angeles Rams.
Week 3 of the preseason is known as “dress rehearsal” around the league as most teams play their starters for at least a half. This means we’ll finally get to see Philip Rivers play with the starters for more than one drive. While I don’t put much stock, if any, into the preseason results, it will be interesting to see how the starters play in the game. Let’s dive into some of my predictions.
The Good: First Team
The Chargers first team offense will look good out there. While there are still some justified questions about the offensive line, the return of Rivers should mean a more efficient offense. Certainly much more efficient than Cardale Jones or Kellen Clemens. I expect the Chargers to play it somewhat conservatively with some of their players though, especially guys like Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin, who both suffered season-ending injuries last season. I think you’ll see a fairly good Chargers offense that will decide to play it somewhat safe, especially after injuries to Odell Beckham Jr. and Julian Edelman.
I think you’ll also see a good week for the first team defense, who played very well last week following a bad first quarter against the New Orleans Saints last week. If defensive coordinator Gus Bradley can eliminate some of the Chargers early mistakes, they should be good to go against a mediocre Rams offense. The big key here is to stop the running game.
I also expect some big preseason names like Dexter McCoil and Desmond King to step up.
The Bad: Clemens and Jones, offensive line
I have very little faith in Clemens or Jones to do much of anything in this game against the Rams. While there are some offensive line issues that affect both quarterbacks, both have made eyebrow-raising decisions against Seattle and New Orleans this preseason. Jones’ near pick-six against the Saints looked particularly bad.
The offensive line also has some responsibility here. While they looked good when Rivers played against Seattle, they’ve looked like a mess when any other quarterback plays. Again, part of that is on the quarterbacks and part of it is sub-par blocking.
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What to Watch For: NO INJURIES
Man, I feel like we just have to hold our breath every week on this one. We escaped last week without any major injuries, but with the starters playing a full half, you have to be somewhat concerned. I’m hoping the Chargers find a balance between playing it conservatively and too conservatively in playing the starters. While we can’t sustain injuries, we can’t just hold everyone back with no reps before Week 1 against Denver either.
Final Prediction: Chargers win, 28-27
This will be an interesting matchup, but I have the Chargers winning based off a strong first half, 28-27. I think Jared Goff will play in his usual mediocre fashion, causing issues for Todd Gurley and the run game. While I think the Chargers will have a pretty good first half, I expect Clemens, Jones and the backup offensive line to struggle big time in the second half. I’m also very interested to see how defensive standouts like McCoil and King play as well.