The Los Angeles Chargers face the 2-8 Arizona Cardinals this Sunday. It’s a ‘must win’ game especially as matchups against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs are just around the corner.
The AFC playoff picture is on a knife-edge. The 9-2 Chiefs are being chased hard by the 7-2-1 Steelers. Three teams, including the Chargers are a game behind at 7-3. The stakes are high at this stage of the season.
Week 11 closed out with a sense of disappointment for those associated with the Chargers. An unlikely defeat to the Denver Broncos became a reality. The Chargers had their worst performance of the season. Looking at the defeat with a glass half-full mentality puts last week‘s loss into perspective. The Cardinals provide another opportunity for the Bolts to step up to the plate, get back to winning ways and show their quality. Philip Rivers gave his thoughts when he addressed the media, via Chargers.com
We’ve had a good run. Shoot, we’re still sitting at 7-3. There’s no satisfaction, no settling, but we’ve got a lot to look ahead to and it’s right in front of us with Arizona (Cardinals) coming into town. I don’t think there’s any sort of relaxing. We’ve had a heck of a week at practice. I felt we did a lot of really good things out there. We just did the things we haven’t done – the things we have been able to stay away from, the crucial mistakes we’ve been able to stay away from – we didn’t today.
Time to improve
The offense is loaded with talent yet the Chargers have managed only two games where they‘ve posted 30 points or more. A week 11 preview suggests that the Chargers needed to improve on scoring more points and reducing the turnovers. The offense lost the edge and momentum against Denver because of indiscipline.
The Denver defeat does several things for a capable 7-3 team. It gives them a sense of focus and allows them to address their costly mistakes. Team captains have an opportunity to remind everyone they should take nothing for granted in the NFL. Denver’s win serves as a blueprint for the harsh reality of not executing the game plan.
Arizona‘s rush defense is ranked as one of the poorest in the league. Melvin Gordon has been a big contributor to the Chargers offense. No.28 is trying to shake off a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for the London game. The Chargers injury report lists Gordan as probable for the game. If cleared to play Gordon will be aiming to rush for his fourth 100-yard game of the season.
Cardinals Head Coach Steve Wilks started Josh Rosen under center in last week’s defeat to the Oakland Raiders. Rosen has had little pass protection. The rookie was the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft. His introduction to pro-football has been a tough one, getting sacked 22 times. Joey Bosa is expected to start his first game of 2018. No.99 will be hungry to register his first sack since returning from injury.
The home stretch
Expect the Chargers to come out of the traps with plenty of purpose. Week 12 could be one of the most important games for the Bolts. The AFC playoff race has many permutations. There are three home games and three road games left for Coach Lynn to lead his team to January football. A dominant performance will boost morale and keep the pressure on the teams ahead of them. Can the Chargers respond to last Sunday’s defeat with a good performance and a win?