The Los Angeles Chargers are back in the NFL playoffs after a four-year absence, as they overcame a gnarly rash of injuries to finish 10-7 and claim the fifth seed in the AFC.
They will face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the wild-card round, and they will pose an interesting challenge, as they’re young and inexperienced, yet they ended the regular season with a five-game winning streak.
Unfortunately, the injury bug hasn’t abated for L.A., as it will be without key wide receiver Mike Williams on Saturday.
Chargers’ WR Mike Williams suffered a fracture in his back last Sunday that is expected to sideline him the next two to three weeks, meaning that, barring an LA Super-Bowl run, his season is over, per @LindseyThiry.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 13, 2023
Williams suffered a back injury in Week 18 versus the Denver Broncos, a game that was rendered virtually meaningless right before kickoff when the Baltimore Ravens lost, giving the fifth seed to the Chargers.
Head coach Brandon Staley has come under fire for playing Williams against Denver, especially after he defended that decision, and it seems like his coaching job, which already seemed somewhat tenuous, might be on the line against the Jaguars.
There have been rumors that Sean Payton, who once coached Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl championship, may be interested in Staley’s position, but it isn’t clear if he is even serious about returning to coaching.
Jacksonville is a solid defensive team, but it ranked 19th in passing touchdowns allowed and 28th in passing yards allowed, so the key may be for quarterback Justin Herbert to sling the ball downfield and not be shy about attacking the Jaguars vertically.
Tight end Gerald Everett and wideouts Josh Palmer and DeAndre Carter have merged as decent threats, and one or both of them will need to put up big numbers and possibly make one or two big plays that will dictate the complexion of the game.
The Chargers have a long history of disappointing their fans in the playoffs, but if they band together, perhaps they can leave TIAA Bank Stadium with a victory.