For the fourth time in their past five games, the Chargers narrowly escaped an opponent. This time they did it by a walk-off field goal following a wild, back-and-forth final quarter that saw the ball change hands a number of times.
This team keeps winning, but analysts are keeping themselves reserved when it comes to putting much weight in their recent success. Even after winning four of their last five, their two blowout losses at home have severely limited their potential for upward movement.
At any rate, they’re still firmly within the top half of the league and their currently projected to earn the seventh seed in this year’s postseason. However, the next two games against the 49ers and Chiefs could quickly derail their momentum.
Let’s go ahead and check out how the Bolts shook out in this week’s power rankings roundup.
Sporting News - #10
“The Chargers have injuries on their offensive line, defense and in their receiving corps. But they have fought hard with Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler leading the way with just enough timely stops. Brandon Staley is doing an underrated job of coaching with a shorthanded team.” - Vinnie Iyer
The Ringer - #11
“The Chargers were no. 6 in our preseason rankings, but they aren’t a top-10 team on this list now because of failures on both sides of the ball—notably an ineffective early-down offense and a run defense that is softer than room-temp butter. Los Angeles ranks 21st in offensive success rate on first and second downs, which leaves Justin Herbert in obvious passing situations and forced to play hero ball on third and fourth downs to sustain drives. Defensively, the Bolts are 28th in points allowed per game and yards allowed per play in large part because offenses are just having their way with them on the ground. No defense in the NFL is allowing a higher yards-per-carry average (5.7) than the Chargers entering Week 10.” - Austin Gayle
Yahoo Sports - #12
“A good win on the road for the Chargers. They caught a huge break on a quirky play that led to the game-winning field goal. (Good teams are also lucky.) Could this be a positive sign for the Bolts? Next: at San Francisco 49ers” - Barry Werner
Pro Football Talk - #13
“In a game between two teams that don’t seem to want to win, someone still had to.” - Mike Florio
The Athletic - #14
“...the Chargers escaped with a win in Atlanta despite missing Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but they remain maddeningly mediocre on both sides of the ball.” - Bo Wulf
Pro Football Network - #14
“‘Frustrating’ is becoming too kind an adjective to describe the Chargers’ offense. Joe Lombardi and Tom Telesco have put a rucksack filled to the brim with cement and strapped it to Justin Herbert’s back. The young QB is consistently forced to thread the needle in a scheme as predictable as a fan being upset about a loss by their favorite football team.”
“Despite investing heavily in run defense during the offseason, the Chargers still can’t stop the run. Despite ranking inside the top 10 in rushing success rate on defense before the Falcons game, LA ranks 27th in rushing EPA on defense.”
“The Chargers have huge games against the 49ers and Chiefs upcoming, and if their offense can’t bring more explosiveness, they won’t be able to compete.” - Dalton Miller
CBS Sports - #15
“They won their fourth close game of the season against Atlanta, which was a must-win game. The offense showed some life in the passing game, which it had to do.” - Pete Prisco
NFL.com - #15
“Justin Herbert is making it work. The quarterback made big throws when it counted on Sunday, leading the Chargers to a 20-17 win over the Falcons without his top two wide receivers. It’s unclear how much more time Mike Williams and Keenan Allen will miss, but Herbert showed in Atlanta that he can make playmakers out of complementary roster pieces like Josh Palmer and DeAndre Carter. Absurd fun fact: Austin Ekeler had zero touchdowns in the Bolts’ first three games, but has 10 — ten! — in the last five. Ekeler is an underrated gem who will continue to eat as long as the L.A. wide receiver room remains a M.A.S.H. unit.” - Dan Hanzus
ESPN - #15
“Ekeler leads the NFL with 10 touchdowns, including six rushing and four receiving. He has rushed for a touchdown in five consecutive games, the longest such streak currently in the NFL. And he leads the league with 457 yards after the catch, ahead of last season’s triple crown winner Cooper Kupp (406). In a season when the Chargers have been plagued by injuries, Ekeler continues to be available and has been a standout option for quarterback Justin Herbert.” - Lindsey Thiry
USA Today - #15
“They became the third team in league history to trail by double digits after the first quarter in four straight games. Remarkably, the Bolts have gone 3-1 in that stretch.” - Nate Davis