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Chargers Power Rankings Roundup: Bolts hanging on to middling rank after loss to Raiders

The latest loss makes the Miami game a must-win.

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

At 6-5 heading into week 13, the Chargers needed to take advantage of the softer games against the Cardinals and Raiders. They managed to win one of the two which ultimately could seal their playoff fate with the Dolphins and Titans up next in back-to-back weeks. They’re going to need to win at least one of those to avoid needing to rattle off three or more victories to end the season.

As of now, the Chargers are 6-6 and would have to finish 4-1 to improve on their record from a season ago. A 3-2 mark would give them a 9-8 finish once again, which is still somewhat impressive given all the obstacles they’ve had to overcome this season.

Per usual, here’s this week’s power rankings roundup as of week 14.

Bleacher Report - #14

“This year was supposed to be different.”

“After coming up just short of the postseason last year, the Los Angeles Chargers were aggressive in adding pieces on defense in the offseason, signing cornerback J.C. Jackson and trading for edge-rusher Khalil Mack. And quarterback Justin Herbert was going to take the next step.”

“This was going to be the year.”

“Instead, injuries have once again taken a toll. Jackson is out for the season. Left tackle Rashawn Slater likely is too. Wide receiver Mike Williams has missed four games. The defense is atrocious against the run. The offense has been inconsistent. And the Chargers are right back where they were at the end of the 2021 season—on the outside of the playoffs looking in.”

“‘The juxtaposition of Herbert and his classmate Tua Tagovailoa is stunning,’ Sobleski said. ‘Tagovailoa entered the weekend as an MVP candidate. Generally, the Dolphins quarterback is asked to be a distributor. The 2020 No. 5 pick is a point guard on grass who excels as part of a well-devised scheme with a great surrounding cast, whereas the Chargers demand that the No. 6 selection carry the offense. Los Angeles is banged up, and Herbert is often reduced to playing hero ball. As a result, he has been far less successful this season.’” - NFL Staff

CBS Sports - #15

“They just can’t seem to get anything going in terms of consistency. Losing to the Raiders to drop to 6-6 hurts their playoff chances, and they face a must-win game with Miami coming to town.” - Pete Prisco

Sporting News - #16

“The Chargers bolted out to an impressive start against the Raiders but then saw their run defense issue rear its ugly head. There’s simply been too much put on Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler and now Keenan Allen again to win games.” - Vinnie Iyer

Pro Football Talk - #17

“‘We’re three games better than the Rams’ isn’t going to fly.” - Mike Florio

Yahoo Sports - #17

“The Chargers’ loss Sunday dropped their chances to make the playoffs by 13.4 percent, according to Football Outsiders’ playoff odds, the biggest dip in the league for Week 13. Make no mistake: Wasting another year of Justin Herbert on his rookie contract and not getting a playoff berth would be an absolute failure, injuries or not, and Brandon Staley would have to be on the hot seat if that happens.” - Frank Schwab

The Ringer - #17

“The Chargers offense is painfully conservative, and Brandon Staley’s defense is somehow worse than it was last season despite some big-name additions this offseason like Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, and Kyle Van Noy. Injury excuses don’t cut it when teams with less talent—and specifically teams with worse QBs—are finding ways to handle the Chargers on both sides of the ball. If the Chargers lose to Miami this week, their chances to make the playoffs will drop below 15 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight. It’s hard to imagine a situation where the coaching staff is held intact if they miss the postseason again.” - Austin Gayle

ESPN - #17

This isn’t exactly the category you want to be ranked No. 1 in — allowing a league-worst 5.4 yards per carry. But after 13 weeks and despite a significant overhaul to their defensive front, that’s where the Bolts stand. It hasn’t helped that several key defensive players have been sidelined this season, including Joey Bosa, Austin Johnson, Christian Covington and Otito Ogbonnia. Head coach Brandon Staley has emphasized that it takes all 11 defensive players to stop the run. “Run defense is a team operation,” he said. - Lindsey Thiry - #18

“Injuries continue to limit the Chargers during a time when they should be making their playoff push. On Sunday, Justin Herbert was under constant duress during a 27-20 loss to the Raiders in which the Bolts played without their starting left tackle, right tackle and center. It’s not just the offensive line, either. Star pass rusher Joey Bosa (groin) remains sidelined without a timetable to return, while it’s unclear if wide receiver Mike Williams will make it back following his latest high ankle sprain. It’s fair to wonder if — and perhaps time to admit that — this is another year where the Chargers will look back at their roster in August, then compare it to what they finished with in January, and wonder aloud who they ticked off in a prior life.” - Dan Hanzus

The Athletic - #18

“Stop hitting yourself. Despite Las Vegas entering Sunday’s game with one of the most feckless pass rushes in the league, Justin Herbert was hit 13 times, tied for the fifth-most for any quarterback in a game this season. Also tied with 13 quarterback hits in a game? Herbert from last week in the last-minute win over the Cardinals. The Chargers’ offense is in shambles — they were playing backups at four of the five positions at one point Sunday — but this is the franchise’s crown jewel we’re talking about protecting. Another year without the playoffs might necessitate change at the top.” - Bo Wulf