AFC Playoff Picture: Where Chargers stand in conference standings at bye week

The Los Angeles Chargers are in good shape heading into the bye week.

We’re seven weeks into the NFL season and what Chargers fans want to know most is where the team stands following the blowout loss to the Ravens and heading into the bye week.

A lot can change before the end of the regular season, but Baltimore currently has the first seed in the AFC.

The top-seeded team in each conference earns a bye in the playoffs and division winners receive the No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 seeds. Non-division winners with the best records receive the No. 5 through No. 7 seeds.

AFC Playoff Picture after Week 6: 

  1. Baltimore Ravens (5-1) 
  2. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)
  3. Tennessee Titans (4-2)
  4. Buffalo Bills (4-2)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)
  6. Las Vegas Raiders (4-2)
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)

In the hunt: 

  • Denver Broncos (3-3)
  • Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)
  • Cleveland Browns (3-3)
  • New England Patriots (2-4) 
  • Indianapolis Colts (2-4) 

AFC playoff matchups if the season ended today: 

  • No. 2 Chargers vs. No. 7 Steelers
  • No. 3 Titans vs. No. 6 Raiders
  • No. 4 Bills vs. No. 5 Bengals 

So as of now, Chargers fans can take a deep breath because the team is in a comfortable position for the postseason through the first seven weeks of the season. When they return from the bye, Los Angeles has the sixth-easiest schedule.

Chargers Highlights: RB Austin Ekeler posts second touchdown vs. Raiders

Austin Ekeler gets his second TD of the night.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler got his second touchdown of the night from an 11-yard rush.

Ekeler finishes the game with 117 rushing yards, 28 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.

Check out how Ekeler found the end zone:

Los Angeles extended their lead with Ekeler’s touchdown by two scores.

Watch: Chargers strike first vs. Raiders on Donald Parham’s TD catch

Chargers get on the board first with a Donald Parham TD.

After a 35-minute delay, the Chargers and Raiders kicked things off in SoFi Stadium, and it was the Bolts who struck first.

On a 12-play, 75-yard drive, quarterback Justin Herbert was a perfect 6-of-6. Herbert threw his first touchdown of the night with a four-yard pass to tight end Donald Parham in the back of the end zone on third down.

Check it out:

Los Angeles currently leads, 7-0.

Friday’s injury report for Chargers ahead of AFC West showdown with Raiders

Friday’s injury report for Chargers ahead of matchup with Raiders

The Chargers had their second practice ahead of Monday night’s division matchup with the Raiders.

There were seven players listed, with four limited players and three who participated in a full practice. Not one player worked on the side during the practice portion open to the media. 

Most notably, veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen was once again a limited participant with a sustained ankle injury; however, there’s been nothing to suggest that Allen’s status for the AFC West showdown is in danger. 

The other three limiteds listed on Friday’s injury report include: cornerback Chris Harris Jr., defensive lineman Justin Jones and long snapper Matt Overton. Head coach Brandon Staley expected Jones to return to practice fully yesterday, but he remains listed as a limited player. 

Edge defender Joey Bosa, who is dealing with a foot/ankle injury, fully participated in back-to-back practices. Safeties Alohi Gilman and Derwin James also practiced fully, an improvement from their status Thursday. 

Speed, strength of Raiders pose threat for Chargers

Speed and strength of Raiders pose a potential threat for Chargers in Week 4.

The Chargers will be facing an undefeated Raiders team in a Monday night division matchup. Las Vegas poses a threat, looking much sharper now than previous seasons. 

The speed and strength of Vegas are two aspects the Bolts must try to restrain this weekend. 

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is performing with unexpected versatility. He utilized a number of offensive weapons with all six of his touchdowns being caught by different receivers through the first three weeks.

Vegas is putting up some striking statistics with Carr leading the league in passing yards with a total of 1,203 as well as being the only team to have four receivers with more than 200 yards. 

Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill gave his thoughts on the Raiders passing game: “They’re playing fast, they’re playing at a high level.”

“They’re built extremely well on offense because they have a complete offense,” head coach Brandon Staley said. “They’re very well-coached. They’re a very complete offense, and that’s where they’re the same as Kansas City. They’re dangerous on every down.”

On the other side of the ball, former defensive coordinator for the Bolts, Gus Bradley, will be guiding Vegas in an effort to limit the effectiveness of Los Angeles’ offense.

The Raiders defense currently ranks 10th in expected points added per play (-0.02) and sixth in opposing pass yards per attempt (6.2).

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said the team is preparing for some different looks from Bradley, but he expects him to stick with what he knows. “They’re not trying to out-trick you. They’re trying to out-execute you.”

The Raiders have some familiar faces on the team with cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. and linebacker Denzel Perryman, both of whom are starting and are playing great football.

Perryman played six seasons with the Bolts but did not re-sign. Hayward was released by the Chargers during the offseason after his fifth season.

Up to this point, Bradley’s unit has fared well against the Ravens, Steelers and Dolphins, and he will now look to extinguish a red-hot Chargers QB Justin Herbert.

Chargers WR Joe Reed named Day 3 pick who could make immediate impact

The Los Angeles Chargers have a few rookies who should carve up a role in 2020.

The Chargers have a knack for using the third and final day of the draft to find players that go on to make their presences known as early as their rookie seasons.

Recently, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski named fourth-round pick running back Joshua Kelley as his prediction to be the most productive rookie for Los Angeles.

Well, you can add another player into the mix.

ESPN’s Todd McShay, who wasn’t able to partake in the draft coverage because he was diagnosed with COVID-19, released his thoughts from the event, which included his instant-impact Day 3 picks.

Among the five listed was former Virginia wide receiver Joe Reed, the team’s fifth-round selection.

Reed is built like a running back at 6-foot and 224 pounds, and he has some speed. But what I really like about this pick is his versatility. Reed has experience out wide, in the slot and occasionally in the backfield. And I love the fifth-rounder’s special-teams ability — he has 17 career tackles with that unit and was one of the more dangerous return men in the country at Virginia. He might not see a ton of targets early on behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but his ability to line up all over and make contributions on special teams should provide an impact in Year 1.

It was expected that the Chargers were going to take a wide receiver a lot earlier on, but they were unable to because they didn’t have a Day 2 selection after sacrificing the picks to move up and get linebacker Kenneth Murray.

The expectations also included them getting a true vertical threat. With Reed, the 6-foot and 224 pound wideout, he was primarily used on short passes. But he typically turned them into big gains, forcing 15 missed tackles on 77 receptions, per Pro Football Focus.

Reed isn’t slow by any means, as he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. But he was hindered by the poor quarterback play in college, which resulted in limited opportunities down the field.

It’s expected that Reed will be used as a gadget player, lining up in the slot, out wide, and even in the backfield. He will be used in sweeps, shovel passes and slants, similar to the role that the 49ers gave Deebo Samuel last season. He could also develop into the deep option that Los Angeles could benefit from.

Along with that, he should be the frontrunner to win the starting kick returner job, given his impressive production for the Cavaliers, which included becoming the first player in school history with two kickoff returns in the same season.

Joining Kelley and Reed is K.J. Hill, the team’s seventh-round selection, who could make an immediate impact in Year 1. Hill, the savvy route runner and ball magnet, could carve up a role in the slot.

Chiefs’ Tyrann Mathieu talks what he will miss most about ex-Chargers QB Philip Rivers

Former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will forever be remembered for his intensity on the field.

Quarterback Philip Rivers will be missed for a handful of things that he was able to do for the Chargers franchise within the past 16 seasons.

For Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu there’s one notable thing that he will miss Rivers for – his trash talking.

On a segment with NFL Network’s Kay Adams, Mathieu further explained that what he’d be missing the most is Rivers’ exceptional trash talking by including an incident in the final matchup in 2019.

“I think they were on the 10-yard line,” Mathieu said. “They were like going in the end zone, and Rivers, he’s not in the huddle, but he’s kind of standing off to the side. He’s looking at me and Frank Clark, and he’s like, ‘Hey, Frank Clark! Hey 32! They gave you all all that money, when are you guys going to make a play?’”

So what happened on the next play after Rivers’ remarks? He was picked off by Mathieu.

Other than that encounter, the two-time All-Pro has nothing but respect for the 38-year old quarterback and will miss playing him twice per year.

“I’m going to miss him,” Mathieu said. “He’s just so funny man, and he means no harm and you know that, but somehow he still finds a way to get under your skin. He’s a good guy man, at heart. He’s pretty hilarious on the field. Especially since he doesn’t use any foul words.”

In his 16-year career for the Chargers, Rivers started in 224 games since the start of the 2006 season. He threw for 59,271 career yards with a 64.7 completion percentage, 397 touchdowns and 198 interceptions.

Touchdown Wire predicts Chargers’ record in 2020

Will the Los Angeles Chargers turn things around after a disappointing 2019 season?

The 2020 NFL schedule is slated to be released on Thursday. We know who the Chargers will play this upcoming, but we have yet to find out when and where.

Even though we don’t know the exact dates and times to all 16 of their games, we at least know their opponents to start making predictions on how we believe the year will shape up.

After finishing with a disappointing 5-11 record in 2019, Touchdown Wire’s Barry Werner believes that Los Angeles will only improve their win column by two more games in 2020, finishing with a 7-9 record.

Anthony Lynn will have to decide when to test Justin Herbert as a starter when the Bolts fail to light it up in the first part of the season. Forgive Tyrod Taylor if he has seen this script before.”

Oddsmakers have the over/under for the Chargers’ win total set to 7.5.

I believe Los Angeles is capable of finishing 9-7 or 10-6 this season. I will break down each game soon, explaining the process on each of my projections.

Quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert might not necessarily perform at a Pro Bowl level. But no matter how the quarterback play plays out, the schematic changes on both sides of the ball and talent on the roster should be able elevate their success rate.

The biggest determining factor to their success will be the health of the team. The Chargers have shown that they can compete with any team in the league, but when the injuries to their key players start to stack up – just like last year – it will hinder them immensely.

Looking at Chargers’ strength of schedule in 2020

The Los Angeles Chargers will have a little bit easier schedule this season than in 2019.

The wait is finally close from being over.

The Chargers, along with the 31 other teams in the league, will know when and where they’re playing in the 2020 season on Thursday at 5 p.m. PT.

We know who the Bolts will be playing, but how will they fare against their opponents?

Based on the 2019 win percentages of 2020 opponents, Los Angeles has the 23rd-hardest schedule this season. Their upcoming opponents posted a combined 126-130 (.492) record last season.

The Chiefs (.500), Raiders (.496) and Broncos (.512) all have tougher schedules than the Chargers.

However, offseason acquisitions made by Los Angeles and their opponents will certainly have an impact on this.

Here is the strength of schedules across the NFL:

1. New England Patriots: 137-118-1 (.537)

2. New York Jets: 136-119-1 (.533)

3. Miami Dolphins: 135-120-1 (.529)

4. San Francisco 49ers: 134-120-2 (.528)

T5. Buffalo Bills: 134-121-1 (.525)

T5. Detroit Lions: 134-121-1 (.525)

T5. Atlanta Falcons: 134-121-1 (.525)

T8. Arizona Cardinals: 132-123-1 (.518)

T8. Houston Texans: 132-123-1 (.518)

T10. Los Angeles Rams: 131-123-2 (.516)

T10. Minnesota Vikings: 131-123-2 (.516)

12. Denver Broncos: 131-125 (.512)

T13. Seattle Seahawks: 129-125-2 (.508)

T13. Chicago Bears: 129-125-2 (.508)

15. Green Bay Packers: 128-126-2 (.504)

T16. Indianapolis Colts: 128-127-1 (.502)

T16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 128-127-1 (.502)

T18. Carolina Panthers: 127-127-2 (.500)

T18. Kansas City Chiefs: 128-128 (.500)

20. Tennessee Titans: 127-128-1 (.498)

21. Las Vegas Raiders: 127-129 (.496)

22. Jacksonville Jaguars: 126-129-1 (.494)

23. Los Angeles Chargers: 126-130 (.492)

24. New Orleans Saints: 125-130-1 (.490)

25. Philadelphia Eagles: 124-131-1 (.486)

26. New York Giants: 123-132-1 (.482)

27. Cincinnati Bengals: 122-134 (.477)

28. Washington Redskins: 118-136-2 (.465)

29. Cleveland Browns: 118-138 (.461)

30. Dallas Cowboys: 117-138-1 (.459)

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: 117-139 (.457)

32. Baltimore Ravens: 112-144 (.438)

3 burning questions for Chargers in 2020

The Los Angeles Chargers look to bounce back after a disappointing 2019 season.

After finishing 5-11 in a very disappointing 2019 season, the Chargers are hoping to turn it around as they enter the new season in their new stadium in Inglewood, CA.

After some changes to the roster on both sides of the ball this offseason, there are some questions surrounding Los Angeles heading into training camp that need to be answered in order for them to be contender.

Let’s look at those three questions:

What will the offense look like without Philip Rivers?

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The 16-year marriage between the Chargers and QB Philip Rivers came to an end this offseason. Taking over under center are Tyrod Taylor and rookie QB Justin Herbert, the No. 6 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The main difference between the two and Rivers is from an athleticism standpoint. However, that’s going to be the difference between how the offense was run with Rivers and now with Taylor and Herbert. Rivers was dropping back into the pocket with five to seven steps to buy him time to throw, with very little opportunities to scramble.

With the new system in place for Taylor and Herbert, there will be more pistol formation, more play-action and more run-pass option. The Chargers offense is going to look a lot more like the Ravens offense last season. Head coach Anthony Lynn and Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman coached together in Buffalo in 2015 and 2016.

Taylor and Herbert have the skill sets to run some of the concepts the Ravens do, like zone read and other quarterback option runs, which was hardly ever the case when Rivers was under center for Los Angeles.

Despite the change in offense, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler will help guide the offense, along with newly added draft selections – Joshua Kelley, Joe Reed and K.J. Hill