COSTA MESA, Calif. — A postseason berth in hand for the first time in four seasons and coming off a 31-10 blowout victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Rams, the Los Angeles Chargers will go into their regular-season finale against the Denver Broncos with the intent to clinch the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs.
“Our approach is definitely going to be to try to win this ball game and play as well as we can play heading into the playoffs,” coach Brandon Staley said Monday. “I think that there’s certainly an advantage to being the 5-seed, from where I stand.”
The Chargers have won four straight games to improve to 10-6. They clinched a playoff spot in Week 16, then moved into the No. 5 seed on Sunday after defeating the Rams and watching the Baltimore Ravens fall to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Staley left open the possibility that some players might not be available on a case-by-case basis because of injuries but expressed no intention to rest players Sunday.
“Going into the playoffs, you’ve got to be playing football to get to where you want to go,” Staley said. “So we’re going to try and maximize our group heading into the playoffs, that’s for sure.”
Coming off his first game since undergoing groin surgery following Week 3, edge rusher Joey Bosa came out of Sunday feeling healthy and OK, according to Staley. Bosa played 29 snaps (49%) and recorded two tackles.
Safety Derwin James Jr. was inactive Sunday as he continued through concussion protocol,
“He’s working through the protocol,” Staley said. “You’ll be able to know his practice status on Wednesday.”
James practiced twice last week in a limited capacity, according to the Chargers’ participation report, before he was ruled out of the matchup versus the Rams.
As the Bolts are ready for the playoffs, they appear to be peaking at the perfect time on offense, defense and special teams.
Quarterback Justin Herbert broke a two-game streak of no passing touchdowns (the first such streak of his career) against the Rams, as he completed 21 of 28 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Austin Ekeler rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-long 72-yard score, and the Bolts’ 192 rushing yards were their most since posting 238 in a Week 5 30-28 win over the Cleveland Browns.
“I do think that it was the hardest we have played, yesterday on offense,” Staley said. “We finished our plays, run and pass, but particularly in the run game. I thought that our tight ends had, probably, their best game blocking. I think our receivers, probably, had their best game blocking.”
On defense, the Chargers overcame a largely uneven season through Week 13, when they ranked among the NFL’s worst defenses, to catapult to the top of the standings. After allowing an average of 25.8 points per game through Week 13 (ranked 30th), the Bolts have held opponents to an average of 11 points per game during their current four-game win streak, which ranks atop the NFL.