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Los Angeles Chargers-Denver Broncos Takeaways

Week 17 of the NFL season has come to an end, and the playoff picture is starting to take shape. Prior to this week, only one spot in the playoff picture was actually clinched (the Kansas City Chiefs clinched the AFC West title). Now, 5 spots have been clinched: the AFC West title (Chiefs), the AFC South title (Tennessee Titans), the AFC North title (Cincinnati Bengals), along with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. If the Bills win next Sunday, then they clinch the AFC East title; if the Bills lose and the Patriots win, then the Patriots claim the AFC title. There are only two spots remaining in the wild card race, which are currently held by the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers.

The Los Angeles Chargers played the Denver Broncos last Sunday. After a brutal loss to the Broncos in Week 12, the Chargers looked for their chance to return the favor. And return the favor they did, with a dominant 34-13 win. Here are the Chargers-Broncos takeaways.

Main Takeaways

This Team Can Beat Anyone If They Wanted To

This may be a bit of an overreaction. However, the Chargers already beat two AFC division winners  (Bengals and Chiefs). They also beat two of the other teams in the playoff race (Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers). The Chargers that took the field on Sunday against the Broncos were a whole different team than their last matchup. They were confident, poised, and didn’t make any stupid mistakes. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi didn’t make many confusing play calls like he usually does. When these Chargers come out to play, the rest of the league gets put on notice.

Andre Roberts May Be Back

Andre Roberts could be the Chargers’ answer to their issue with field positioning. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports)

Andre Roberts was a First-Team All-Pro return specialist for the New York Jets back in 2018, as well as a Second Team All-Pro in 2020 for the Buffalo Bills. Along with being a Pro Bowler for the past three seasons, it’s safe to say that Roberts is an elite return man. However, his time spent in Houston with the Texans was lackluster at best. Much like the rest of the Texans, there was very little opportunity for Roberts to showcase his talents. This explains why the Texans released him in October 2021.

The Chargers picked him up in free agency quickly, which proved to be a smart decision on their part. In the past two weeks he has played, Roberts averaged 74.5 yards per kick return, with a 101-yard kick return touchdown against the Broncos. If Roberts can be that elite kick return specialist from back in his Jets and Bills days, then the Chargers will never need to worry about terrible field position again.

The Chargers Offense is Elite When They Play to Their Potential

Justin Herbert proved that he is the main man to watch whenever he steps on the field. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Not much of a hot take here. When fully healthy, the Chargers have one of the most talented offensive cores in the entire league. Justin Herbert is a bona fide superstar quarterback. He can make throwing for 237 yards and two touchdowns look easy. His 45-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams was an absolute dime; certainly worthy of the moniker “El Principe Azul” (The Blue Prince).

Herbert is great and all, but the other skill players deserve some love, too. Austin Ekeler is the perfect running back for this offense. While he may not contribute heavily in the run game, his contributions in the receiving game complement Herbert beautifully. He provides Herbert with a great check-down option if his primary targets aren’t open. Ekeler has great hands, and he is shifty and a very strong runner. Good luck tackling Ekeler in the open field with just a cornerback or free safety; he’ll just stiff-arm them or run them over. With 58 rushing yards on 17 carries (3.4 ypa) and a touchdown, Ekeler was primarily used in early-down or goal-line situations in the run game. However, his three receptions for 54 yards were useful for moving the sticks and getting first downs. That do-it-all utility is perfect for Herbert to rely on.

And one would be remiss to not mention this fantastic receiving core. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are both fantastic receivers who serve important roles for Herbert. Allen’s shifty routes, elite burst speed, and good hands make him a first-down machine. Meanwhile, Williams’s large build and bully playstyle make him one of the league’s elite deep threats. These two, along with speedy deep threat Jalen Guyton, make up one of the best receiver cores in the league.

Final Thoughts

Brandon Staley was truly blessed to get this head coaching job. Staley inherited a stacked team that simply needed a true leader at head coach. And most weeks, he truly looks like he can be that guy. With games like this past one against the Broncos, Staley can inspire hope in the future for Chargers fans across the nation. Staley will inevitably prove to be the right coach for this team, something the Chargers have been sorely lacking since the Marty Schottenheimer, or even Don Coryell days. These were the Chargers-Broncos takeaways.

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