(Mandatory Image Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Written By: Joseph Yun
The reeling and desperate Titans travel to Tinseltown to take in all the sights that the City of Angels has to offer. If they’re lucky, they could stay in town postgame to catch a Lakers game at Crypto.com Arena (it’s forever Staples to me!). They also make a return trip to the palatial Kroenke Dome called SoFi Stadium from last season. While they’re there, they could pick up a few stadium-related tips for their own new future building. The Chargers need a win to keep themselves alive in the race for the seventh seed. Tennessee needs a win so that the Jaguars don’t catch up to them in the AFC South standings.
Chargers’ key numbers + info
Note: All statistics courtesy of pro-football-reference.com
HC: Brandon Staley (16-14 career)
OC: Joe Lombardi
DC: Renaldo Hill
2022 Record: 7-6 (2-3 AFC West)
PPG Against: 25.1
Rush yards: 1,098
Rush yards allowed: 1,911
Avg. per rush attempt: 3.7
Avg per attempt allowed: 5.4
Pass completion rate: 67%
Pass completion allowed: 62%
Leading Rusher: Austin Ekeler (153 attempts for 634 yards and eight touchdowns; 93 receptions for 623 yards and five touchdowns)
Leading Receiver: Josh Palmer (61 receptions for 665 yards and three touchdowns)
Leading Tackler: Drue Tranquill (108 tackles; four passes defended, six tackles for loss, one interception, three sacks, four passes defensed)
Key Additions: OT Jamaree Salyer (rookie), G Zion Johnson (rookie), WR DeAndre Carter, TE Gerald Everett, DE Morgan Fox, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Khalil Mack, JT Woods (rookie), P JK Scott, K Cameron Dicker
Key Losses: DE Joey Bosa (IR), CB J.C. Jackson (IR), OT Rashawn Slater (IR), K Dustin Hopkins (IR), Jalen Guyton (IR), DT Austin Johnson (IR), OT Bryan Bulaga
The Chargers lead the all-time series 28-18-1. They have played 11 times since the transition to the Titans name, with the Chargers winning nine. The teams have split the series since the Chargers moved to Los Angeles. The average scoreline has been 30-18 in favor of the Chargers. Tennessee has been winless in seven tries on the road against the Chargers with the average margin of victory just below 16 points.
Keys to a Titans Victory
Find a passing attack
- The Chargers, much like every Tennessee opponent, will laugh hysterically at their limited weapons and load up the box to stop Derrick Henry. The Titans will need to scheme up a passing attack without the services of Treylon Burks and backup runner Dontrel Hilliard. Rookie tight end Chig Okonkwo has come alive over the past several weeks so there is that. In order to have any success, Todd Downing will have to have a fever dream with both Chig and veteran Austin Hooper leading the way. The good news is that elite safety Derwin James is doubtful to play so both tight ends should have space.
- Austin Ekeler is the not-so-secret sauce behind the Chargers high powered fireworks show. As countless fantasy owners know, he’s the league’s ultimate PPR freak show. He owns a line of over 600 yards in both rushing and receiving, putting him in rare company. Joe Lombardi hasn’t met a screen he doesn’t like yet so the Titans’ wounded defense will have to play short to intermediate a ton.
In the Zone
- It would help alleviate some pressure off the wounded defensive backs if the Titans weren’t so exclusively reliant on man coverages against some of the best “my ball” receivers in the world. The issue is that the Chargers have weapons that can bust zone coverage all day. Kevin Byard can only do much against this level of weaponry and a quarterback who can aim it wherever he pleases.
Keys to a Chargers Victory
Make Mike Leach Proud
- The Titans' secondary is beyond porous and decimated by injury. LA has a flotilla of weapons like the venerable Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams, along with young veterans like Joshua Palmer and DeAndre Carter. Justin Herbert is one of the league’s superstar passers. It’s high time that OC Joe Lombardi unleashes his signal-caller by launching a full-scale deep ball assault. An aerial display to make the recently departed Coach Leach proud.
Expose the defensive front
- The Titans are literally too injured to play even half of their starters. Lombardi might actually call more short to intermediate pass plays in this game to expose the underbelly of the Titans' defense. Tennessee is missing its top linebackers as Zach Cunningham is still out and David Long, Jr went on IR this week. Denico Autry is out another week as well.
Attack the offensive line
- Tennessee has the worst offensive tackle situation in the league with Dennis Daley getting the lion’s share of the reps at left tackle. He’s been beyond horrid since Taylor Lewan got injured. Khalil Mack and KVN should have a field day against him. The left guard is also a weak point as Aaron Brewer just doesn’t have the physicality to hold up. If the Chargers can get home via the left, Ryan Tannehill won’t have time to find his paucity of weapons. The Bolts’ secondary probably could kick back and relax.
Injury Report - Titans @ Chargers
What are the Odds?
(note: all odds courtesy of vegasinsider.com)
BetMGM has the Chargers being 2.5-point favorites at -115, the money line at -150 for LA, and the Titans at +125. over/under is set at 46.5.
Caesar’s has the Chargers being three-point favorites at -115, the money line at -160 for LA, and the Titans at +135. The over/under is set at 46.5.
WynnBet has the Chargers being three-point favorites at -105, the money line at -160 for LA, and the Titans at +130. The over/under is set at 46.5.
FanDuel has the Chargers being three-point favorites at -104, the money line at -152 for LA, and the Titans at +128. over/under is set at 46.5
LOS ANGELES 45