HAPPY GAME DAY, BOLT FAM!
The Lions have arrived in Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in an afternoon matchup.
We’ll start the conversation by giving you our staff predictions, and you can keep the chatter going below:
Ryan Watkins: Going into last week I thought the season was hanging in the balance, it might not have been the prettiest win we have ever seen especially against such a bad offense however, as I pointed out in my Daily Links article, I think it showed a new attitude for this Chargers team. This approach to be a genuinely rugged, tough side that wins in multiple ways and doensn’t put the whole weight the win on our quarterback’s shoulders for a 4th quarter final drive.
In my opinion this game was next week then it would come down to how dominant the Chargers pass rush can be but this matchup will require Kellen Moore’s offense to reach new heights that I am not sure they can reach with only one week’s growth from a pretty miserable outing against the Jets. I personally don’t think the Lions defense is that impressive, they seem to play quite static and have very few game changers. To put it simply, at the start of the season I would expect Justin Herbert to hang 30+ points on this defense but in their current form I just don’t see it happening. Missing key receivers and having a running game that is not only ineffective but unreliable to even act as a counter to the passing game has forced Moore into a simpler offense that relies on yards after the catch and if the Lions key in on this I don’t know where he goes from there.
The Lions offense however are retooled after a few key injuries and they now have all options available to them which is a scary prospect for Brandon Staley’s defense. Ben Johnson is a innovative offensive coordinator that uses traditional personnel in a huge variety of formations that put fullbacks out wide and wide receivers in the backfield. This is a huge problem for Staley who has been pretty set in matching the offensive personnel out of the huddle, Ben Johnson will gain advantages here and that could be all the difference an explosive offense like this needs. Jared Goff is a solid quarterback who operates well within the framework of their offense, they use a tonne of diagonal routes that play on pattern match rules so if Staley sticks with his quarters coverage it could be a tough night. If he instead uses man and gives the pass rush time to get home and Tampa 2 as a change up to close off the middle then I could well be proven wrong but Staley has shown a resistance to change this season and that doesn’t bode well for this matchup.
Overall I think the Chargers’ offense won’t have the juice to keep up with a Lions offense that has so many directions they can go in. I actually see the defense getting a pick 6 if Staley gets his coverage calls right to cover the middle of the field but it ultimately won’t be enough. That said, I think the Lions are legit and losing to them would be no shameful thing and doesn’t spell the end of our playoff hopes.
Final Score: Lions win 27-24
Kyle DeDiminicantanio: This is a huge swing game for the Chargers. The offense is certainly in need of some improvements and more creativity in personnel utilization... but the key to a Chargers’ win likely comes from the defense continuing it’s incredibly impressive two game stretch.
I’d take the Chargers’ pass rush over the Lions’, but their offensive line has the Chargers’ gapped by a substantial amount. Detroit is all but guaranteed to get to Justin Herbert a couple of times with Trey Pipkins’ shaky season and Will Clapp struggling to do more than a yeoman’s job replacing Corey Linsley, but if Derrick Ansley and Brandon Staley keep this electric pass rush buzzing, there’s hope for the Chargers.
Derrick Ansley and Brandon Staley laid out some forms two weeks ago, and have mixing and pouring wet concrete for the past two weeks. The new identity and mindset they’ve been working towards is set, but wet. A Chargers’ victory will cement a new sturdy foundation Staley can rebuild the Chargers’ postseason hopes upon; a loss will leave us staring at a pride-sized stampede of pawprints where our hopes for the season had lay.
With so much at stake, I have to believe the Chargers rise to the occasion. The Chargers’ pass rush will finally give the Bolt Fam the statement win promised when Khalil Mack was added to the roster - but it will be emotionally led by a high-motor rookie EDGE that inspires his veterans leaders with his energy and spirit.
Final Score: Chargers 24-16
Arif Hasan: The Lions-Chargers game will almost entirely depend on the Chargers’ ability to create big plays. Los Angeles has the largest discrepancy in the NFL between their average EPA per play and their success rate, ranking 8th and 20th in the two measures, respectively. The Lions have been a good down to down defense, but have had some issues with big plays – ranking 8th and 13th in those measures and 15th in percentage of passing plays resulting in 20 or more yards.
It’s not just through the air, either. In order for their run game to accomplish anything close to useful, they’ve been overly reliant on big runs. Their success rate running the ball ranks 31st in the NFL, with less than a third of their runs generating positive expected points. But when they have been successful, it has been really successful. They rank 21st in total EPA per play and 13th in rate of 20-plus yard runs. Defensively, the Lions have been good at stopping explosive runs – they rank fifth in explosive run prevention rate.
With the Lions defense otherwise outclassing the Chargers offense in many respects outside of this, the Chargers’ best chance will come from big plays to players like Quentin Johnston, Keenan Allen and possibly Derius Davis.
The Lions also like to rely on the big play, though their success rate is still fairly high on offense. The Chargers defense will rely on players stepping up to stop the small mistakes that they haven’t been able to stop all year. The increase in defensive pressure rate in the past four weeks should help – the Chargers otherwise rank pretty low in defensive pressure creation, but with Joey Bosa’s return to form, there is some hope there.
Overall, the Chargers offense and the Lions defense are fairly evenly matched, with both ranked eighth in EPA per play. The Lions offense (11th in EPA per play) does outpace the Chargers defense (22nd) and they aren’t as reliant on yards after the catch or play-action as they have been in previous years.
There won’t be any particular gimmick for Los Angeles to hone in on, they just need to make sure they take advantage of their opportunities. They’ve been great at recovering fumbles but poor at intercepting passes when they’ve gotten their hands on the ball. Goff has not thrown a high rate of interceptable passes, so those chances will be few and far between.
I still have issues trusting Goff but the Lions have clear advantages. I’ll take the Chargers to cover but the Lions to win.
Final Score: Lions 24-22