The Los Angeles Chargers are set to face the 6-2 Detroit Lions this Sunday at 1:05 PT at SoFi Stadium. Chargers vs Lions promises to be a great game and also serves as a pivotal test for both teams to prove the validity of their spot as two of the best teams in the NFL right now.
This will only be the 13th time these teams have met face-to-face, with the Chargers winning 7 out of the 12 matchups. This time, however, the Lions open as 3-point favorites based on the DraftKings Sportsbook. However, the Chargers have all the makings to not only give the Lions a tough time, but actually win, and spoil the Lions’ aspirations for the NFC’s first seed. The key to for the Chargers is on the shoulders of the trenches and the play of Justin Herbert.
Chargers vs Lions- Detroit’s High-Flying Defense
On the defensive side of the ball, the Chargers will have a grueling test against the electric Detroit offense. Regarding pass offense, the Lions rank 10th in dropback success rate. For rushing offense, the Lions rank 11th in rush success rate and 10th in yards per carry.
The Lions’ offensive line cannot be overlooked for the success of this offense. Ranking 3rd in pass-blocking for PFF. Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker anchor this group, only allowing two sacks and 14 pressures in 18 games. Furthermore, this will be the first time Detroit’s leading back, David Montgomery, and the five starting offensive linemen are expected to be healthy since Week 1.
The key to disrupting the rhythm of this offense will be up to the Chargers’ best defensive unit, their defensive line. Led by Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, the Chargers currently rank 2nd in sacks for the year. If this deep group can consistently win their matchups up front and sack or pressure Jared Goff, the Chargers secondary will have a higher chance of keeping up with the Lions’ receivers.
The Chargers rank poorly in basically any passing defense-grade, so if the defensive line can rush Jared Goff, it can lead to poor decision-making on his part, and hopefully to turnovers. Goff currently has the highest interception percentage of his career with the Lions, the Chargers need to be able to take advantage of that.
Furthermore, the Chargers have only allowed over 100 yards rushing twice this season. However, the Chargers have faced poor rushing offenses apart from the Dolphins and Cowboys so far, so this will serve as a great test for the defense.
Chargers vs Lions: Herbert, Allen, and Ekeler. Oh My.
The Chargers’ offense will have an equally tough test when facing the Lions’ defensive group. It seems the Chargers, mostly Justin Herbert and new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore have found the offense’s identity after a rough start to the season. The Chargers currently rank 10th in yards per attempt and 8th in points per game. As well, Herbert currently has the 5th best QBR. This is despite the teams losing key weapons such as Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer.
Herbert has the opportunity to take advantage of an inconsistent pass defense, which has struggled at times. However, a key matchup will be whether right tackle Trey Pipkins III can contain the disruptive Aidan Hutchinson. Pipkins currently ranks 50th among tackles, so this is a matchup to keep an eye on. If Pipikns can contain Hutchinson consistently, Herbert will be able to take care of the rest.
It seems the key to the Chargers’ success on offense will lie in the passing game, as the rushing attack will most likely struggle. Although the return of Austin Ekeler has proven to be a spark of new life, the Chargers’ rushing attack has been one of the weakest in the whole NFL this season, ranking at a measly 31st run-blocking grade from PFF. Furthermore, the Lions have only allowed 100 yards or more to one opponent the whole season.
This will be a key matchup for both teams moving forward. The Lions are currently seeking the first seed in the NFC, after not having any real competition in the NFC North this year. The Chargers desperately need to win this game to get above .500 on the year and keep their playoff hopes alive, as they currently sit just outside the AFC playoff picture. Both teams will surely be seeking to establish themselves as one of the best teams in the NFL. The game will be available through CBS, NFL+, Paramount+ and YouTubeTV.