DENVER – What’s up with a team that allows them to play really well one week and then fall apart the next? And will it work again?
I suppose if the coaches really did know, they’d all be Super Bowl-bound. It is a human game that is played by people, with countless emotions, intrigues, quirks, questions about family and who ate what and when.
How can the Los Angeles Chargers do well in week 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles and week 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but below average in week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings and most recently against the Denver Broncos? And how can the Chargers break out of this pattern and win for the first time since the beginning of October?
The Chargers aren’t the only team facing this problem. Every team at AFC West is 6-5, with the exception of the Kansas City Chiefs, who have won four in a row and are first at 7-4.
“I thought about it today,” said running back Austin Ekeler after losing 28:13 at the Broncos on Sunday. “We win a game, we lose a game, then we win a game, then we lose. Where is that mentality? But we capture that mentality after a loss and how we use it in training this week. I hope we can manage it. ” , but after a defeat it’s different and I don’t like that.
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“They want to have the same mindset regardless of whether we won or lost, or whether you had a good game or a bad game. We are people so we feel the emotions so we do our best to get in and have them consistent thinking that it’s a new week, it’s a new opponent. “
And this week that new opponent is the 7-4 Cincinnati Bengals, one game ahead of the Chargers in a crowded AFC wildcard race, entering Sunday’s game at Paul Brown Stadium (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS). The Bengals are getting hot after beating the Steelers 41-10 last week and the Las Vegas Raiders 32-13 the week before.
But the Bengals, one game behind the Baltimore Ravens at AFC North, also had their ups and downs, having recently lost to the Cleveland Browns 41-16 in Week 9 and the New York Jets the week before that. You’re probably asking the same questions as the chargers. Five of their games were decided with three points, two of which went into overtime.
“I think of a lot of things, I think it’s the NFL,” said Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. “The Denver Broncos are trained really well and they have some really good guys on this side of the ball. It wasn’t good enough for us today and we need to address that again.”
Against Denver, Herbert went 28-for-44 and 303 yards and two touchdown passes, but also two interceptions, including a pick-six in the fourth quarter by Bronco cornerback Pat Surtain II, who put the game out of reach. It didn’t help that he was without a running game (Ekeler had 12 carries for 31 yards while Joshua Kelley only had one carry for 5 yards) and that the insane offensive line gave up 19 presses, said Chargers coach Brandon Staley threw the offense out of rhythm .
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The Chargers need a second running back to step behind Ekeler and a third wide receiver to appear alongside Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. And a defense that needs to get well and strengthen. These things would help the Chargers put together a finals that could land them a playoff spot or even a division title.
“We’re fighting,” said Staley. “It’s been such a season for us. It didn’t matter whether we started 4-1 or not, we had to fight to be 4-1. That was a fight. You heard me talk about illusions and all that So it was a fight when we were 4-1, it was a fight when we lost a couple – three out of four or whatever it was, it was a fight and it’s still a fight.
“What we have to do as a team is figure it out together. If your head isn’t straight, you won’t figure it out. We’re going to try to stay connected and move on to Cincinnati the best we can.”