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3 storylines to watch for Chargers-Bills

The Chargers will have loads of fresh energy when they take the field on Saturday night.

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images

The Chargers will take the field against the Bills on Saturday night without Brandon Staley leading the way for the first time since Week One of the 2021 season. Edge rushers coach Giff Smith is now the interim while JoJo Wooden has replaced Tom Telesco as general manager.

Once the news broke that Staley was out, the Chargers only had a few days to get back into the swing of things. Regardless of what they have to play for, there are three games remaining on the schedule that must be played. Every individual player on the roster will have their reasons for finishing this season out strong, but will it all culminate to be enough to steal a win along the way? Or are the Chargers headed on a crash course with a potential top-five pick in this year’s NFL draft?

Only time will tell.

With that aside, here are the three biggest storylines I’ll be watching when the Bolts take the field inside SoFi Stadium on Saturday night.

1.) What kind of Chargers team will we see in their first game under interim head coach Giff Smith?

The last time the Chargers took the field for an NFL game, they looked like a Group of Five team from the collegiate who stumbled out of the wrong tunnel. The Raiders scored their first opening drive touchdown in the previous 20 drives and then proceeded to beat the Bolts down so hard that they had no choice but to fire both head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco.

It’ll be nine days since that shellacking when the Chargers take on the Bills in another primetime game, this one being the first exclusively streamed on Peacock. I don’t think the Spanos family wants to be humiliated on national television for a second consecutive week, and that goes for the players, as well. With that in mind, I foresee a much better team-effort from the Chargers this Sunday.

2.) Which players down the depth chart will earn more playing time?

In Brandon Staley’s final game as head coach, the staff gave third-string running back Isaiah Spiller the bulk of the carries with the team fighting from behind from the very first drive of the game. He ended with 16 total totes for just 50 yards, but that was much more of a workload compared to starter Austin Ekeler who carried five times for just nine yards.

Rookie linebacker Daiyan Henley also got into the game for a handful of snaps near the end, which got me thinking that the staff could officially be punting on the season and that means they need to start looking at the players further down the depth chart.

Against the Bills, I’ll be watching carefully to see which young players get the nod to take on a bigger snap count. Ownership needs to know who could potentially be relied upon during a transitional year in 2024 and they’ve got three full games to see who is and who isn’t taking advantage of the opportunity.

3.) Will Khalil Mack finally break 100 sacks?

Another game, another week where I hope we get to see Khalil Mack finally cross over the 100-sack mark for his career. He’s gone without a quarterback takedown the past two weeks and that’s also cost him the league lead as he’s fallen from number one to number three behind Danielle Hunter (15.5) and T.J. Watt (16.0).

Mack can also continue pushing to be amongst the league leaders in tackles for loss as he currently sits with 15. That total has him tied for sixth in the league alongside Trey Hendrickson and Jonathan Greenard. The current leader in the clubhouse is Hunter who sits with a massive 21 stops behind the line of scrimmage.