Los Angeles Chargers Make Bold Lineup Decision For Week 18

Brandon Staley, Chargers
NFL Analysis Network

The Los Angeles Chargers are faced with the age-old question numerous teams have to answer at the end of the season. Should they play their regulars or get some rest ahead of what they hope will be a lengthy postseason run?

The Chargers clinched a playoff berth in Week 16, when they defeated the Indianapolis Colts in dominant fashion, 20-3. It is the first time that Los Angeles will be in the postseason in four years, but their seed is not yet determined.

Knowing what is on the line, the Chargers will be playing all of their regulars, within reason, against the Denver Broncos in Week 18. Head coach Brandon Staley shared their plan on Monday.

“Our approach is definitely going to be to try to win this ball game and play as well as we can play heading into the playoffs,” Staley said. “I think that there’s certainly an advantage to being the 5-seed, from where I stand.”

Riding a four-game winning streak and winners in five out of their last six games, the Chargers have risen to the top Wild Card spot in the AFC and are currently the fifth seed. They surpassed the Baltimore Ravens this week with their victory over the Los Angeles Rams as the Ravens are in a free fall with Lamar Jackson sidelined.

That is a coveted spot in the playoffs as the No. 5 seed will go on the road to face the AFC South champion, either the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans. The sixth seed will have to travel to take on the Buffalo Bills or Cincinnati Bengals, which is a much taller task.

However, it will be on a case-by-case basis. The Los Angeles Chargers are going to do everything they can to win the game, but there Staley did leave the possibility of some players being held out of the game.

“Going into the playoffs, you’ve got to be playing football to get to where you want to go,” Staley said. “So we’re going to try and maximize our group heading into the playoffs, that’s for sure.”

Defensive stars Joey Bosa and Derwin James Jr. are who many people likely assume Staley is referring to. Bosa returned to the lineup for the first time since Week 3 against the Rams. James is progressing through concussion protocol and was inactive in Week 17.

Getting both players healthy for the postseason is likely the team’s No. 1 concern with a playoff spot locked up. They will find a way to make things work for at least one more game should they both be limited or held out all together.