CHARGERS (4-4) vs. LIONS (6-2)
When: 1:05 p.m. Sunday
Where: SoFi Stadium
TV/Radio: Ch. 2/98.7 FM; 105.5 FM/94.3 FM (Spanish)
Line: Lions by 3
Notable injury designations: Chargers: None. Lions: OUT: G Halapoulivaati Vaitai (back). DOUBTFUL: DL Levi Onwuzurike (hip). QUESTIONABLE: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (ribs), T Dan Skipper (ribs).
What’s at stake: A victory over the Lions would extend the Chargers’ winning streak to three, a sign they have moved past their middling start to the season. A loss would indicate they’re not over it and have a great deal of work to do in order to join the NFL’s upper echelon. The Chargers need victories in six of their final nine games in order to match last season’s 10-7 record.
Who’s better: Unlike the New York Jets and Chicago Bears, the Chargers’ last two opponents, the Lions are a complete team in every sense. Their offense, led by former Rams quarterback Jared Goff, is every bit as strong as their defense. Neither the Jets nor the Bears had the same sort of balance, led as they were by novice quarterbacks. Detroit ranks ninth in the 32-team NFL in points, one spot behind the Chargers, and second in yardage, 13 spots ahead of them.
Matchup to watch: If the Chargers can generate anything close to the pressure they put on Jets quarterback Zach Wilson during a 27-6 victory this past Monday night, they might have a chance at disrupting the plans of Goff and the Lions. The Chargers sacked Wilson eight times in a dominant showing. Goff has completed 68.3% of his passes for 2,174 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Chargers win if: The Chargers need to play their best overall game of the season, getting an equal high-level efficiency from their offense, defense and special teams. The Lions are the best team they have faced since their 31-17 loss Oct. 22 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers put it all together in their 30-13 victory over the Bears on Oct. 29, but had to rely on their defense and special teams to beat the Jets. Their offense generated only one drive longer than 50 yards. Their touchdown drives were of 50 and 2 yards. They also scored a TD on rookie Derius Davis’ 87-yard return.
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Fantasy sleeper: With wide receivers Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer sidelined by knee injuries, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert must rely all the more on Keenan Allen, an 11-year pro with all the skills and experience you would expect from such a seasoned vet. Look for Allen to continue as Herbert’s top target. Allen caught half of Herbert’s 16 completions against New York. Herbert and rookie Quentin Johnston haven’t formed a reliable connection yet and Jalen Guyton is just rounding into form after a year-long layoff because of a knee injury.
Prediction: The Lions will be well-rested after their bye week and the Chargers will be playing after a shorter week than usual to recover and prepare for Detroit after their victory Monday over the Jets. The oddsmakers made the Lions a slight favorite. Who are we to argue? Lions 24, Chargers 21.