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Chargers’ pass-catching group continues to electrify

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 14: Tyrell Williams #16 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates a touchdown in the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 14: Tyrell Williams #16 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates a touchdown in the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Nearly halfway through the 2018 NFL season and the Los Angeles Chargers pass-catching core of wide receivers, and running backs, continues to prove they are one of the finest in the league. 

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has been outstanding through seven games of the season. The veteran signal caller has 17 touchdown passes to just three interceptions and is completing 69.1 percent of his passes en route to a 5-2 record. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the favorite to win Most Valuable Player by seasons end, but Rivers should not be far behind.

As well as the Alabama-born gunslinger has played this year, Rivers has been gifted with the luxury of some stellar weapons. Even without their star tight end Hunter Henry, the Chargers group of pass-catchers has been lights out in 2018. Are they the top playmaking unit in the NFL? No, but they are certainly near the top and have contributed greatly to L.A.’s solid start to the year.

The Bolts’ pass-catching corps starts with their three-headed monster at wide receiver featuring Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams. Allen is not having as monstrous a year as he did in 2017, but the 26-year-old wideout is still the Chargers’ top producer in 2018. The former first-round pick leads the team with 41 catches for 501 receiving yards but has just one touchdown.

That’s where both of the Williams’ come in to play, as each wide receiver has hauled in four touchdown catches. And what is making this corps even scarier is that Tyrell has started to find a groove over the last two games.

The Chargers’ second wide receiver on the depth chart has back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. This includes a three-catch, 118-yard performance with two scores against the Cleveland Browns in Week 6. Williams followed that up with four receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in Week 7, highlighted by a 75-yard score early in the first quarter.

Moreover, Tyrell’s recent output has been extremely valuable given that Mike Williams has cooled off after a strong start to the year. After recording 80-plus yards in Weeks 1 and 3, Williams has just 119 receiving yards off six catches over the last four games, but the former Clemson Tiger has the talent to break out with a stellar performance in any given week.

The wide receivers have played really well overall this season, but what separates the Chargers’ pass-catching corps from a majority of the NFL is the effectiveness of the running backs. L.A.’s dynamic duo of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler have been excellent on the ground and through the air in 2018.

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Gordon has racked up 30 receptions for 279 receiving yards and three touchdowns in six games, which includes a nine-catch, 102-yard output against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1. His reception total is second on the Chargers behind Allen. Add his receiving numbers to his rushing production, and the Chargers may have a sleeper MVP candidate in the backfield. 

Ekeler has been quite efficient as well in the aerial attack. The second-year scatback has hauled in 19 catches for 233 receiving yards and three scores in seven appearances. One of Ekeler’s end zone trips came off a 44-yard catch-and-run play in Week 5 against the Oakland Raiders.

When looking at the Chargers’ stable of running backs and receivers, five players stand out as viable pass-catching options for Rivers. The depth of this weapons corps in the air is certainly one of the deepest in the NFL when factoring in both positions.

And if the Chargers pass-catching corps continues performing at a high level, then considering them the league’s best group would not be hyperbolic.

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