Los Angeles Chargers on a quest to break out of the up-and-down pattern – NFL Nation

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DENVER – What is it about a team that allows it to play really well one week and then fall apart the next? And then do it again?

I suppose if coaches really knew that, they would all be tied for the Super Bowl. It is a human game played by people with a myriad of emotions, plans, quirks, questions about family and who ate what when.

That said, how can the Los Angeles Chargers perform at a high level in Week 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles and Week 11 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, but below par in Week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings and most recently against the Denver Broncos? And how can the Chargers break out of this pattern and collect consecutive victories for the first time since early October?

Chargers is not the only team facing this problem. Every team in the AFC West is 6-5 except the Kansas City Chiefs, who have won four in a row and are in first place with 7-4.

“I was thinking about it today,” running back Austin Ekeler said after Sunday’s 28-13 loss to the Broncos. “We win a match, we lose a match, then we win a match, then we lose. Where is this mentality? But we catch this mentality after a loss, and how do we apply it to practice in this week.I hope we can do it but it’s different to go in after a loss and I do not like that.

“You want the same mindset, whether we won or lost, or whether you had a good or a bad fight. We are human, so we feel the emotions, so we do our best to get in and have the consistent mindset. “It’s a new week, it’s a new opponent.”

And this week, the new opponent is the 7-4 Cincinnati Bengals, which is a game ahead of the Chargers in a crowded AFC wild-card race that goes into Sunday’s game at Paul Brown Stadium (13.00 ET, CBS). The Bengals come in hot after beating the Steelers 41-10 in the past week and the Las Vegas Raiders 32-13 the week before.

But the Bengals, a game after the Baltimore Ravens in AFC North, have also had their share of ups and downs, after losing to the Cleveland Browns 41-16 in Week 9 and to the low New York Jets the week before that. So they probably ask themselves the same questions as the Chargers. Five of their matches have been settled with three points, two of which go to overtime.

“I think of a lot of things, I think it’s the NFL,” said Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. “The Denver Broncos are really well trained and they have some really good guys on that side of the ball. It was not good enough of us today and that’s what we have to tackle.”

Against Denver, Herbert went 28-for-44 and 303 yards and two touchdown passes, but also two interceptions, including a pick-six in the fourth quarter by Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II that put the game out of reach. It did not help that he was without a run (Ekeler had 12 draws for 31 yards, while Joshua Kelley only had a move for 5 yards) and that the offensive line gave up 19 pressure, something Chargers coach Brandon Staley said took the offense out of rhythm.

The Chargers need a second running back to step up behind Ekeler, and a third wide receiver shows up in addition to Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. And a defense that needs to get healthy and step up. These things would help the Chargers put together a final race that could give them a playoff spot, even a division title.

“We’re in a fight,” Staley said. “It’s been the type of season for us. It didn’t matter if we started 4-1 or not, we had to fight to be 4-1. It was a match. You heard me talk about illusions and things like that. that’s how it was a match when we were 4-1, it’s been a match when we lost a pair – three out of four, or whatever it was. It’s been a match and it is still a struggle.

“What we have to do, as a team, is that we have to keep figuring it out together. If your head is not straight, you will not figure it out. We will try to stay connected and move on. to Cincinnati the best we can. “

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