The LA Chargers defeated the Tennessee Titans 20-17 on Sunday afternoon to drastically increase the team's playoff chances. Every preferred outcome happened for the Bolts in Week 15, making it a launching-off point for the team's playoff push.
Week 15's win was not necessarily a pretty one. The team played wonderfully on the defensive end but could not pull away offensively. Justin Herbert didn't play his best ball, but showed up when it mattered most. At the end of the day, the Chargers were the last team that scored and that is all that mattered.
There was a lot to take away from this game, even if it was frustrating to watch at times.
7 quick observations from the Chargers win over the Titans:
1. Justin Herbert is THAT GUY
Justin Herbert did not have his best stuff for most of this game. Some of it had to do with the pass rush, some of it had to do with flawed play-calling. Some of it simply had to do with Herbert, who is a humanoid that actually looked human in this game.
All that being said, when it was time for Herbert to buckle down and lead the Chargers on a game-winning drive that is exactly what he did. That is what elite quarterbacks do. Humanoid quarterbacks do this:
2. Joe Lombardi doesn't know that he has THAT GUY at quarterback
Watching this offense go to work for 90% of the game is frustrating. The team will usually put together a good scripted drive and then will play great when their backs are against the wall late in game. The game script between those moments is awful and is limiting this team.
This is an offense predicated on making the right reads, throwing into tight windows and essentially being perfect. It is not an offense that takes many shots downfield and has Herbert acting more like a game manager than a freak, humanoid quarterback.
Every single time the Chargers have to throw the script out of the window and allow Herbert to use his playmaking ability the offense moves down the field with ease. There is a time for being tactical and surgical in the NFL. I get that. But let your quarterback play.
3. Running in the red zone works! Do it more!
The Chargers made it into the red zone twice in this game and scored in both trips. For a team that has struggled immensely in that area of the field, that is great! The trick? Running the ball more. The Chargers spammed the run with Joshua Kelley and Austin Ekeler and it worked! Do it more!
4. The "Keenan Allen is washed" people look real silly
Keenan Allen had a bad game against the Las Vegas Raiders in his second game back from injury. He still put up 88 yards and a touchdown. But still, that prompted a flurry of "Keenan Allen is washed" takes that we disputed at the time.
Allen continued to be Herbert's go-to option in key must-have-it situations in this game. He finished with eight catches for 86 yards a week after putting together a good game against Miami in which he had 12 catches for 92 yards.
5. Brandon Staley's defense has been GOOD since the bye week
A lot of Chargers fans were upset that the "defensive guru" wasn't showing up for the team. While the overall numbers are not great for the season, Brandon Staley's defense has really turned it around after the bye and the last two weeks particularly have been exceptional.
The defense has allowed an average of 21.6 points per game since the bye week. Heading into this game, opposing quarterbacks were completing just 55.2% of their passes since the bye. Ryan Tannehill completed 68.2% of his passes for only 165 yards with an interception.
6. Sebastian Joseph-Day and Breiden Fehoko are a fantastic duo against the run
Breiden Fehoko has long deserved a bigger role on this Chargers defense and he has finally gotten it because of injury. Fehoko has been really good in the chances that he has received. He and Sebastian Joseph-Day have been a menace against the run together.
Derrick Henry's final stat line looks good but outside of a few big runs, the Chargers were able to contain King Henry, which is all you can ask for.
7. Chargers fans should finally start to feel excited...
This team has played really well the last two weeks. Not only have the Chargers beaten back-to-back playoff teams but they are getting healthier by the week. Joey Bosa's return is around the corner. Rashawn Slater might be back soon. Derwin James should return before the playoffs.
They have to get there first but I promise you that the Chargers are the wild-card team that nobody is going to want to play in the playoffs.