It didn’t have to be an important game that the Chargers needed to win. It didn’t have to have suspense and drama to be a memorable contest. It was actually the exact opposite of the typical “classic” games of history but that didn’t stop it from being an absolute blast to witness.
In last year’s week 11 match-up against the Buffalo Bills, the Chargers put up 54 points thanks to quarterback Nathan Peterman serving up five interceptions on a silver platter in the first half, alone. It resembled the plot of the movie “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs” except all the food that fell from the sky were errant throws.
Coincidentally, the Chargers will face a second rookie quarterback for the Bills in as many years. The team recently announced that rookie Josh Allen will receive the starting nod after he took over for Nathan Peterman in the second-half of last week game against the Baltimore Ravens. Peterman threw two interceptions and helped the Ravens amass a 40-0 lead.
With last year’s contest still fresh in the fan base’s mind, and last week’s debacle only adding to the fire, Chargers fans are going to be full steam ahead on the idea that there’s almost no doubt the Bolts will inevitably put the Bills through a table on Sunday.
However, fans should know better with this team. Before we all get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at three storylines I’ll be watching carefully against the Bills.
1.) Is Josh Allen next in line for a baptism by fire?
Before Peterman was benched against the Ravens, he was absolutely dismal. He finished the game 5-of-18 for just 24 yards and two interceptions. Josh Allen finished the things out but wasn’t too much better. He completed just six of his 15 passes for 74 yards as they inevitably lost 47-3.
It may not feel correct to say it, but the Chargers still have one of the best secondaries in the league. You can say what you want about Tyreek Hill and what he did this past Sunday but Hill is on his own level in this game. There is no one who can sniff Hill’s game on the Bills’ roster which makes this match-up all the juicier.
The only thing Allen will have going for him heading into this game is that he won’t have to worry about defensive end Joey Bosa chasing him around the field.
Do I expect the Chargers to collect another five interceptions off of Allen? No, but i’d say an interception or two is realistic even though the Bills will likely rely on their running game in order to take some of the load off the rookie’s shoulders.
Which leads wonderfully into the next section...
2.) Can the Chargers shut down LeSean McCoy after their stout performance against Kareem Hunt?
In last year’s match-up, McCoy was close to the only thing the Bills had going for them offensively. In the blowout, Shady rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries. He also added a 12-yard touchdown reception which made him responsible for half of the team’s points.
McCoy might have a rougher go of things this time around as the Chargers looked surprisingly stout in an impressive outing against last year’s rushing leader, Kareem Hunt. Hunt collected just 49 yards on 16 carries, averaging just a hair over three yards per tote.
This was a silver-lining lost in the noise stemming from Tyreek Hill and his eye-popping, multi-faceted performance. Across last year’s games against the Chiefs, Hunt amassed well over 300 yards and most expected more of the same. Fortunately for the Bolts, the new additions of linebacker Kyzir White, safety Derwin James, and defensive tackle Justin Jones already look to be paying dividends for the team.
3.) Will 2018 second-round draft pick LB Uchenna Nwosu find himself on the field for more than two snaps?
The first game of the 2018 season was reminiscent of the opener last year against the Broncos in that both contests featured minimal snaps for a player that was expected by the entire fan base to have a much bigger role from the jump. Last year it was tight end Hunter Henry coming off his spectacular rookie season where he tied for the league-lead in touchdowns with eight.
This year, that player was outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, a guy who was drafted to compete with Kyle Emanuel for the OTTO linebacker position in DC Gus Bradley’s defense. Nwosu had himself one of the most impressive preseason performances along with fellow rookie Kyzir White. To our non-surprise, White got a starting nod against the Chiefs but Nwosu found himself on the outside looking in. It probably didn’t make anything worse after watching Emanuel fumble around in coverage and single-handedly give up a touchdown.
I mean, come on. Nick Dzubnar even got snaps and not just run-of-the-mill snaps, either. Dzubnar was in on a goal-to-go situation in which the Chiefs scored far too easily.
By no means did fans expect Nwosu to start, but he showed enough in the preseason to warrant snaps. It was well-noted that Nwosu was getting a lot thrown at him due to his ability to play a plethora of roles in this defense so, again, not the most surprising thing to see him play in a limited fashion.
Luckily, Coach Lynn recently announced that #42 will see an increase in snaps against Buffalo which will finally allow us to get a good look at the team’s top four picks from this year’s draft on the field together for the first time.