COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Most teams would not want their bye-week break to happen during a four-game winning streak. It comes at a good time, though, for the Los Angeles Chargers.
At 5-2, they have a winning record during their off week for the first time since 2014 despite not having one of their key defensive standouts play a game. Los Angeles is hoping Joey Bosa will be available when it begins preparations for its Nov. 4 game at Seattle.
Bosa has been out since early in training camp with a foot injury. He has spent the last two weeks rehabbing at the team facility during the team’s road games at Cleveland and Tennessee in London.
“I think it’s going to be really important for him,” coach Anthony Lynn said last week about the bye week for Bosa. “It’ll give us another week and not have the stress of missing a game. I think it can do nothing but help him.”
The Chargers struggled with their pass rush early in the season, but have 10 sacks over the past three games, which is tied for fourth-most in the league during that span. Defensive ends Isaac Rochell, Melvin Ingram and Darius Philon each have two sacks.
Bosa’s return would create more matchup problems for opposing offenses. He has 23 career sacks in two seasons, including an NFL-record 19 in his first 20 games. The Chargers are ranked 16th in the league in total defense and have struggled on third down as opponents are converting 46.1 percent of the time. That is the third-worst percentage in the league.
Offensively, Philip Rivers is off to one of the best starts of his 15-year career. He’s second in the league with a 117.8 passer rating and has a completion rate of 69.1 percent. Rivers’ favorite target over the past three games has been Tyrell Williams, who has 10 receptions for 302 yards and three touchdowns.
Melvin Gordon is fifth in the league in yards rushing (466), but missed the game against Tennessee due to a hamstring injury. Lynn said he held Gordon out in the hopes the injury would not linger and that the fourth-year back would be ready for the last two months of the regular season.
Gordon is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, which is over a yard better than his career average of 3.95 yards. He also has 30 receptions and is on pace to surpass his career high of 58 from last season.
“I don’t know what it is, we’re just ‘clicking’ right now,” Williams said. “Everybody is trusting the running backs to run and catch. Receivers are making plays and the offensive line is playing really well.”
The Chargers will also need to make a decision about their kicker next week. Caleb Sturgis has missed four extra points in five games before suffering a quadriceps injury on Oct. 10. Michael Badgley has made all three of his field-goal attempts and is 7 of 7 on extra points.
Los Angeles is looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and has put itself in good position. Its schedule is favorable in November as it will face only one team with a winning record. The December slate will be more of a challenge as it includes a late-season trifecta against Cincinnati (Dec. 9), at Kansas City (Dec. 13) and then Baltimore on Dec. 22.
“We’ve kind of picked up, in some ways, where we left off last year (when the Chargers won nine of their final 12),” Rivers said. “We need to keep it going, though. We know the great teams sustain that over the long haul.”