Rested after having a bye week, the Detroit Lions are back and ready to play some football. The last time we saw the Lions, they defeated the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football at Ford Field; now they go on the road to take on the Los Angeles Chargers.
Detroit hopes to get some players back from injury, as the team has been down both starting guards Jonah Jackson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai and running back David Montgomery. The way things are trending, all three players will be back, along with center Frank RAgnow. They will be needed against a strong Chargers defensive line. Detroit faces another scrambling quarterback in Justin Herbert, and scrambling quarterbacks have been a thorn in the side of the Lions’ defense this season.
For the past two seasons, the Lions have played better in the second half of the season compared to the first. After a 6-2 start to the 2023 season, they would love to continue that trend. Some NFC North foes gained ground on Detroit while the team rested, so now it’s their turn to be able to answer back and restore their lead in the division.
Let’s look at the Los Angeles Chargers in the Detroit Lions Week 10 scouting report.
2023 Los Angeles Chargers
2023 season thus far (4-4)
Week 1: Loss against Miami Dolphins 36-34
Week 2: Loss against Tennessee Titans 27-24
Week 3: Win against Minnesota Vikings 28-24
Week 4: Win against Las Vegas Raiders 24-17
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Loss against Dallas Cowboys 20-17
Week 7: Loss against Kansas City Chiefs 31-17
Week 8: Win against Chicago Bears 30-13
Week 9: Win against New York Jets 27-6
- 8th in points scored, 21st in points allowed
- 12th in DVOA
- 8th in offensive DVOA (8th in pass DVOA, 20th in run DVOA)
- 23rd in defensive DVOA (21st pass DVOA, 20th in run DVOA)
- 8th in special teams
Don’t let their record fool you here; the Chargers are not a team that can be ignored by the Lions heading into this week’s matchup. Despite being 4-4, the Chargers are a team looking to avenge what happened to them last season in the playoffs. Head coach Brandon Staley is on the hot seat and knows his team needs to make and possibly win a playoff game to keep his job.
The team hired former Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for the same position, and Herbert is improving with Moore calling the plays. Herbert is on pace for a career-high seven rushing touchdowns on the year. What has hindered this team so far this season? Injuries. Herbert injured his finger back in Week 4, which has limited him and the offense. Still, the finger is getting better now, and Herbert’s been able to adjust and play with the non-throwing hand finger wrapped up.
It’s not just Herbert, though, who has dealt with injuries this season. Running back Austin Ekeler missed three games due to an ankle injury and wide receiver Mike Williams tore his ACL. Their starting center Corey Linsley is dealing with a non-emergent heart issue and others have also missed time, but the rough patch seems to be over. The Chargers are getting back to full strength, which isn’t good for the Lions.
The defense is the biggest issue on the Chargers right now, featuring one of the worst secondaries in the league. It’s still got a solid run defense unit, though. Also, the pass rush is something that Detroit can’t ignore: someone Lions fans remember terrorizing them for years in linebacker Khalil Mack leads the Chargers with nine sacks. He isn’t alone, as linebacker Joey Bosa has 6.5 sacks and defensive end Morgan Fox has 5.5.
Even if the Lions get Ragnow and Jackson back, the offensive line will be tested by the Chargers defensive line this week, and they will need to hold their own if the Lions offense is going to try to put up some points. If the offensive line can’t open up holes for the run game, Goff could struggle to move the ball through the air in the face a lot of pressure from the defensive front seven.
Traded away CB J.C. Jackson.
Key players ruled out: C Corey Linsley (NFI), WR Mike Williams (IR), WR Josh Palmer (IR),
Key players to monitor: None
The Chargers aren’t dealing with too many injuries right now, but the ones they are dealing with are difficult. Linsley has been on IR since Week 4 as he is dealing with a non-emergent heart issue, and it doesn’t sound like he will play again this season. Injuries also struck the wide receiver room this season: Williams tore his ACL in Week 3 against the Vikings and Palmer was put on IR last Sunday, knocking him out for at least four weeks.
The Chargers did make a trade back in early October as they traded away Jackson and a seventh-round pick in 2025 for a sixth-round pick in 2025 from the New England Patriots. Jackson was just one year into his five-year, $82.5 million contract extension, and while Jackson didn’t live up to his contract like the team thought they would, Chargers GM Tom Telesco claimed that signing Jackson was a “mistake.” The team didn’t believe Jackson was as committed as the rest of the team and continued to give him chances to prove himself. Ultimately, he was traded to New England as a failed signing by the front office.
Biggest strength: Run defense
The Chargers have allowed 718 rushing yards this season, averaging 89.75 yards a game, putting them tied for sixth-least in the league. While the secondary has been struggling this season (more on that in a minute), the run defense has kept the Chargers in games. Linebacker Kenneth Murray has been a big help in that regard, leading the team in tackles with 60, six tackles for loss, three pass deflections, two sacks, and an interception.
This season, the Chargers have held running backs like Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard to under 100 yards in their matchups. Their last three games may have been their most impressive performances, though. The Chargers held the Chiefs to 68 rushing yards, the Bears to 73, and the Jets to 64.
Detroit will have its work cut out for them. Even if the Lions have their offensive line at full strength and get Montgomery back, it will be strength against strength when they face the Chargers, as Jackson explained on Tuesday.
“They’re a great front,” Jackson said. “They’ve got the two edge guys and then they’ve got those big dogs in the middle. They emphasize on stopping the run. They’re like sixth in the NFL, and then they’re like top-five in sacks, so it’s a good unit vs. another good unit. So it’s going to be a good battle.”
Biggest weakness: Secondary
The Chargers defense is a tale of two side: the front seven have done well stopping the run, but the secondary has been beaten often. The Chargers have allowed 2,288 yards through the air, putting them at third-worst in the league in passing yards allowed. Trading away their starting cornerback in Jackson didn’t help matters either.
It appears once a talented quarterback is on the opposite side, things get challenging for the group. The Chargers lost to three of the four best quarterbacks they’ve faced: Patrick Mahomes, Tua Tagovailoa, Kirk Cousins (the one they beat), and Dak Prescott. The other victories came against a list of quarterbacks that don’t exactly scare defenses: Aidan O’Connell, Tyson Bagent, and Zach Wilson. Detroit has a talented quarterback in Jared Goff, along with a solid wide receiver group that will target this secondary all Sunday afternoon.
Key matchup: Lions Passing Game vs. Chargers Secondary
If the Lions struggle against the Chargers’ run defense, then the passing game is where they will need to attack the most. If the Lions can run on the Chargers, that makes it even worse for the secondary, as the play-action passes will run wild, and things won’t look good for LA.
Detroit has a lot of weapons for the Chargers to deal with, from wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Jameson Williams, and even newly acquired Donovan Peoples-Jones to tight end Sam LaPorta and running back Jahmyr Gibbs. These will be big asks for the Chargers defense to try and slow down, and if they can step up in a big game against a solid quarterback, the Lions have a shot at a road win.
Vegas line for Sunday: Lions by 2.5