Chargers head to Houston needing a victory
December 30, 2021
Following their overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at SoFi Stadium last week, the Los Angeles Chargers will travel to Houston to battle the Texans in a Sunday afternoon game at NRG Stadium. The game will help to determine if the Chargers can make it back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2018 season and for only the third time in the past twelve seasons.
Seven teams from the AFC will make the playoffs this season and the Chargers are in the thick of the battle for one of the seven playoff berths. With a record of 8-6 for the season, the Chargers are currently the No. 6 seed in the playoffs if the season ended today. A win on Sunday will clinch a winning record for the Chargers in 2021.
Ten of the sixteen teams in the American Football Conference have 6 or 7 losses. The Chiefs have four losses, the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans five losses each. There are 13 teams in the AFC that are still very much alive in the playoff race. Only the Texans, New York Jets, and Jacksonville Jaguars have been eliminated from the playoffs in the AFC.
At his Monday press conference, Charger head coach Brandon Staley acknowledged that the Chargers are locked in a battle for the playoffs. “The standings are tight, and it’s been that way all season,” said Staley. “When you look at the standings, you know that we’ve played most of those teams, so you know how competitive it is. Each team that’s on that list is in a fight right now. As the season has progressed, you’ve seen all those teams’ kind of slide back and forth.”
The Chargers have three games remaining on the schedule; at Houston, home against the Denver Broncos, and on the road at Las Vegas against the rival Raiders. If the Chargers win all three, they are in the playoffs. Two out of three might make it, and anything less than that and the Chargers will be watching the playoffs from their living rooms.
But with the parity in today’s NFL, the Chargers can beat anyone, especially with Justin Herbert at quarterback. “I know that we feel really confident in the team that we have because I know that we’re battle-tested,” said Staley. “Our message was that we needed to learn from the reality of the game against Kansas City. I was really proud of the way our guys competed. What we wanted to do is really focus in on those things that we can improve on from the game, that we can carry with us to Houston.”
The Charger will be without linebacker Joey Bosa on Sunday in Houston, as he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. Bosa is unvaccinated and will need to go through a mandatory 10-day isolation period before he can return to the team. The Chargers will hopefully have safety Derwin James back, who is listed as day-to-day.
The Texans have a record of 3-11 and are ranked last offensively at 265.4 yards per game. The Texans are also ranked last in offensive rushing yardage per game at 77.4 yards per game and 31st in passing yardage per game at 188.0 yards per game. They average 14.8 points per game, which ranks 31st in the NFL. On paper, the game favors the Chargers, and they are a 9.5-point favorite to win the game. But as the Titans learned after a 22-13 loss to the Texans in Nashville earlier this season, games are not played on paper.
“What we have to continue to do on this practice field, we have to continue to improve because I think that our team still has another gear it can get to,” said Staley. “That’s your goal, as a coach, is for your team to truly play its best at the end. We’re going to try and have a great week of practice this week. We have full respect for the Texans. It’s going to be a tough game on Sunday.”