Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com

As the (8-7) Los Angeles Chargers look to finish their second season playing in the innovative SoFi stadium with a win, they face their division rival (7-8) Denver Broncos with an opportunity to make the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2018. Though they squandered an opportunity to maintain control of their destiny with their loss to the Texans last week, this week they will have key players return to their lineup bolstering their chances to repay the Broncos for beating them a few short week ago.

Even though the Broncos’ will be without their starting quarterback on Sunday, in their week 12 match up the Chargers played without their spirited rookie Asante Samuel Jr. and last week they played without Pro-Bowlers Derwin James Jr., Joey Bosa and Corey Linsley. Each of those guys will be available this week, along with Austin Ekeler and Mike Williams, who also missed last week’s game in Houston. 

With the playoff within their grasps, I asked Staley earlier in the week what making the playoffs in his initial season as a head coach would mean to him. He stated when asked, “I say this will full respect to you, and I respect the question, and I understand it fully — we have to play the Denver Broncos on Sunday. That’s where our full focus is. It’s not on that other stuff. We have to treat this week with the respect that it deserves. Our focus is on Denver and their team, their players and their coaching staff.”

In regards to their week of practice in preparation for this critical game Staley was pleased with their week of practice stating the mood of the team was, “Extremely upbeat, extremely focused. I would say that the execution level has been where we expect it to be. The response has been exactly what I would expect from the men and the women in our organization.”

As an organization, the Chargers came out focused against the Broncos. Though their Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley went out with a back injury, they were confident with Scott Quessenberry filling in for Linsley. They rushed for over 100 yards as a team on Sunday, and they avoided giving up any sacks against the Broncos, who have registered 35 sacks through 16 games this season. They also forced a turnover, recorded a sack, held the Broncos the 27.2 percentage on third downs, and returned a kick-off for the first time since 2012.

“I was just pleased with the way that we performed this week, the entire week; not just here at the game, I felt like we practiced well, we prepared well, and then at the game, felt like we brought the right type of energy, the right type of focus and had the right level of execution today.” Staley said in his post-game zoom conference.

This week the Chargers out-maneuvered injuries, COVID 19, and the introduction of new players into their lineup. With arguably their most complete win of the season, the Chargers put up 34 points while holding the Broncos to 13 points in this game. Each of their touchdown scoring drives exceeded 49 yards. That 101-yard kick return in the fourth quarter seemed to boost the team morale. 

About their mid-season acquisition kick-returner, Andre RobertsStaley said, “He’s like having another coach on the field. He’s seen a lot. He’s lived through a lot. This guy’s been a Pro Bowl-caliper player. He’s meant a lot to me. I’m just really proud of him. Game ball to him today; he was fantastic.”

With this win, the Chargers reclaim control of their playoff fate. They face their long-time division rivals Las Vegas Raiders for the opportunity to prance into this season’s playoffs tournament. With identical records, next week’s game vs. the Raiders is a win-and-get-in scenario for both teams.

Pro-Bowler Keenan Allen caught four passes for 44 yards on Sunday. This gives him 503 catches in five seasons, and he becomes only the ninth player in the league’s history to reach 500 catches in a said five-year span. The five-time Pro Bowler also eclipses the 100 receptions mark this season for his fourth season doing so Allen also is one of 10 players ever to have four seasons with at least 100 receptions

Starting Pro-Bowl quarterback Justin Herbert, at 23 years, 298 days old, becomes the third-youngest player to reach 800 completions. Herbert took only 31 games of his career to get 800 completions. He has done this faster than any player in NFL history. After Sunday, Herbert now has 35 touchdowns on the season, setting the team’s single-season passing touchdowns record. He becomes the sixth player ever to throw for 35 touchdowns before turning 24 years old and the second-youngest player to reach 65 career passing touchdowns (Dan Marino did so at 23 years, 93 days old).

Herbert would say post-game about his recent accomplishments, “I think it’s special because I was a Chargers fan growing up. I knew about all of those guys. I watched them all. They’re football legends. To be able to be even in the same conversation with them is a huge honor.” The modest Herbert, rarely acknowledges his success, yet remains steadfast on achieving team success.

I was wrong about them winning 11 games this season, however, winning 11 games’ meant they would be firmly in the playoffs and competing for a division title. Should they win next week, they will reach that ten-win mark and be one game off my prediction? But yes, they do have to beat the Raiders on their home field at Allegiant Stadium.

Kindly share your thoughts on the Charger’s progress this season; are they better than you expected, or are they playing above their heads; do yid you have them making the playoffs this season? You can contact me by reaching out on Twitter @whatsgoodnsport or email or voiceofthefans@outlook.com. I’d love to hear any suggestions you have on what angles, or players, on this Los Angeles Chargers team you would like to read about this season. 

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