For the past several weeks, many have been picking the Los Angeles Chargers to win the AFC West and possibly even reach the Super Bowl this season.
But plenty had seen that movie before, and they dismissed it as the usual blind optimism surrounding the Chargers that they never quite live up to.
But on Sunday versus the Las Vegas Raiders, another team that has high hopes this year, Los Angeles looked mighty and very capable of meeting its lofty expectations.
A look at the final score – 24-19 Chargers – doesn’t really tell the story of how impressive the team looked.
In reality, the Bolts proved why many are considering them legitimate championship contenders this season, and that proof came from many areas.
Justin Herbert Was Amazing
Justin Herbert had a banner 2021 season, throwing for 5,014 yards and 38 touchdowns, and he has emerged as a true MVP candidate this year.
Yet, some wondered or even predicted that his numbers would fall somewhat in 2022.
In fact, some fans even think he’s overrated and not that potent.
Justin Herbert is a good QB but my gosh the Chargers are being so overrated for a QB who hasn’t done anything, he hasn’t even ever made the playoffs lmao. And very very possible he doesn’t make it again this year 😂
— Vane_Xo🦋 (@vanessa_jjX) September 5, 2022
On Sunday, he made those foolish fans eat crow.
He went a remarkable 26 of 34 for 279 yards while throwing three touchdowns passes and zero interceptions and avoiding getting sacked even once.
Herbert posted a passer rating of 129.4 on the day, and he was in a lovely rhythm throughout.
His accuracy was amazing not just because he made the right reads, but also because of how he threw the ball to the precise spots needed to ensure secure receptions for his receivers.
.@chargers QB; Justin Herbert was nothing short of amazing Sunday and the #Bolts needed everything in his bag of tricks to derail the @Raiders Great game on both sides. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/0YKeW6P40S
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 12, 2022
Los Angeles spread the wealth offensively, as Keenan Allen had four catches for 66 yards, DeAndre Carter had 64 yards and a touchdown on three catches, and tight end Gerald Everett hauled in three balls for 54 yards and one touchdown.
Defense Was The Key
But the most impressive aspect of the Chargers’ win on Sunday was their defense, something that was a bone of contention for them last year.
He completed only 22 of 37 passes while throwing three interceptions and getting sacked five times.
Three of those sacks were made by pass rusher Khalil Mack, perhaps the biggest addition L.A. made on defense this offseason.
— FanSided (@FanSided) September 11, 2022
Mack also had three tackles for loss and four total hits on Carr.
The Raiders’ signal-caller did manage to throw two touchdown passes, which kept them in the game, but they never led and played catch-up for much of the contest.
The Chargers front seven also managed to hold Las Vegas’ running game in check, as Josh Jacobs had just 57 yards on the ground.
A Reason For Concern
The thorn on the stem of the blooming rose that was Sunday’s win is the hamstring injury that Allen suffered.
Although nothing is official, the team is preparing for Thursday’s showdown versus the Kansas City Chiefs as if he won’t be able to play.
I’m told “given that it’s a hamstring and such a short turnaround, it would be unlikely.” Source adds that it is “plausible he could be a go.”
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) September 13, 2022
Hamstring injuries are tricky, as quite a few of them reoccur, and given how early it is in the season, it may be wise for the Chargers to have an abundance of caution regarding Allen.