Chargers Vs Bills: 3 Key Matchups To Watch In Week 16

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The Los Angeles Chargers need to come out hot, especially after an EMBARRASSING loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. They have nothing to lose, so they might as well play their hearts out for the remainder of their schedule. Here are some matchups to watch in Chargers vs Bills

3 Matchups To Watch In Chargers vs Bills

Syndication: Democrat and Chronicle
Chargers vs Bills: Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK

1. James Cook vs The Chargers Run Defense

Running back James Cook was on fire in the Bills matchup against Dallas. His yards after contact (88), rushing yards (179), and first downs (nine) were all season-highs, and he had his second rushing touchdown of the year.

The Chargers run defense, along with other parts of the defense, has been inconsistent, and both Raiders running backs Brandon Bolden and Zamir White had their first rushing touchdowns of the year against the Chargers on Thursday. Bolden’s run in particular was an explosive 26-yarder to the end zone that just couldn’t be stopped.

Considering Cook’s ability to keep runs alive after contact, any broken or missed tackles will go a long way in screwing up the Chargers’ ability to win this game. In particular, I’m looking at players like edge rusher Tuli Tuipulotu, linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr., safety Derwin James Jr., cornerback Asante Samuel Jr., and safety Alohi Gilman, who all have double digits in missed tackles this year, to have flawless games.

In addition to Cook finding his groove this past week, Josh Allen is not afraid to use his legs and had the most rushing yards of the team (394) before Sunday’s game. Not only will the Chargers have to contain Cook but they’ll also have to stop Allen if he manages to get out of the pocket.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers
Chargers vs Bills: Yannick Peterhans-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Yannick Peterhans-USA TODAY Sports

2. Chargers Receiving Core vs Bills Secondary

Last week I was worried about the Raiders receivers taking advantage of the Chargers secondary—which they did—and though I’m still worried about wide receiver Stefon Diggs running all over them, I’m more worried about this Chargers offense against this powerful Bills secondary, especially safety Jordan Poyer and cornerbacks Taron Johnson and Christian Benford.

Despite his seven receptions, CeeDee Lamb only had 53 receiving yards with one rushing touchdown in Sunday’s game. Johnson in particular kept Lamb to 30 yards with four receptions while in coverage. Johnson also had a pass breakup on Lamb as did Poyer. Benford shut down wide receiver Brandin Cooks, keeping him to one reception while in coverage and eight receiving yards. 

Lamb and Cooks are stars, but they met a team that wasn’t going to give them an inch. With how the Chargers receivers and tight ends struggled last week, especially now that Keenan Allen is ruled out, it’s going to be a challenge to succeed with this secondary in place. 

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
Chargers vs Bills: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

3. Easton Stick Vs Expectations

Going into last week, there was a lot of talk about Easton Stick’s experience, despite not having started an NFL game, he was in the Chargers’ system for five years, learning from the likes of Philip Rivers, Tyrod Taylor, and Justin Herbert.

His impressive college career was a point of emphasis, and there were a few moments last game, mostly when the starting defense was finally out, where he made some good plays, but he fell short. He had two fumbles on two sacks and looked more like a rookie than a veteran in the wings waiting for his shot.

Granted, so much of what happened was not Stick’s fault, and he didn’t have a lot of prep time, but that game certainly didn’t scream “leader.”  Maybe he was hyped up too much or maybe it’s a matter of getting accustomed to this offense without Herbert, but for this next game, these expectations will still be there.

In fact, after that pitiful performance, those expectations will only be heightened. The questions of, “ Is this the right backup for this team?” and “Will he do better than that disaster of a game?” will keep coming.

On Monday the Chargers signed Will Grier to the active roster. In his press conference today, interim head coach Giff Smith said that Stick is still their starter but he also said about the signing of Grier, that it gives them their best opportunity to win. So if Stick can’t exceed or at minimum meet expectations, maybe Grier can.