2. The third-down defense will make or break this Chargers team
The Chargers have undergone a tremendous defensive turnaround in recent weeks, going from one of the worst offenses in the sport to the best. Sure, the competition that they have played has not necessarily been the best but these are still NFL offenses that they are facing. To put together the stretch that the Chargers have put together it not easy, regardless of opponent quality.
A big reason why the Chargers have turned it around defensively has been the third-down defense. The Bolts were horrible on third down last season and that has completely changed late this season. Prior to Week 17, the Chargers had the best third-down rate of the last three weeks, allowing just 18.75% of third-down attempts to convert.
The Rams had a bit more success on third down in this game but it was still a pretty good showing by the Chargers. Baker Mayfield and co. converted four of 11 third downs, going 0-4 on third downs in a second half that they were shut out in.
There are still areas of this Chargers defense to attack. The Bolts showed some leakage in the run defense against Cam Akers and the safety play was less than ideal in this game. However, playing as a cohesive unit can overcome some of the talent deficiencies and that is what we have seen in recent weeks.
Playing as a unit also makes you a much harder team to convert against on third down. Whether it be the assignments in coverage or the fantastic blitz packages that Brandon Staley has dialed up, as long as this team can continue playing as a unit on third down the defense will give the offense a chance to win every game.