Running back Austin Ekeler was a key factor in the Los Angeles Chargers clinching their spot in the playoffs a few weeks ago. They will be one of the three Wild Card teams in the AFC, but their seeding is not yet known. Given the recent form of the Baltimore Ravens, there is a chance for the Chargers to be the top Wild Card team.
The No. 5 spot in the AFC is a coveted one because it means that you will avoid having to play the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals or Kansas City Chiefs during Super Wild Card Weekend. Whichever team earns the top Wild Card spot will travel to take on the AFC South winner, either the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans, which isn’t as daunting of a task.
Knowing what is at stake, the Chargers are planning to play all of their starters this weekend against the Denver Broncos. While the team aspect of things is very important, some individual accolades could be achieved.
Austin Ekeler has been a standout for the Chargers this season. He is one of the best dual threats in the NFL and is arguably the best pass-catching back in the league. Through 16 games, he has already set a career-high in receptions with 103, gaining 686 yards and scoring five times.
That performance thus far has put Ekeler on the cusp of making history. He is only 14 receptions away from setting the record for most catches by a running back in NFL history, which is held by Christian McCaffrey. While playing for the Carolina Panthers in 2019, McCaffrey caught 116 passes.
14 receptions is certainly a lot to have in a game, especially for a running back. Achieving that total in Week 18 would set a new career high for him in a single game while also taking down the all-time record.
There have been two games this season in which Ekeler has been targeted at least 14 times. So, while it is unlikely that he breaks the record, it is certainly not outside the realm of possibility.
One of those instances came against the Denver Broncos, who Ekeler and the Chargers will be facing off against in the regular season finale. In Week 6 against Denver, with Keenan Allen sidelined, Ekeler was targeted 16 times, catching 10 passes for 47 yards.