The Chargers return home Sunday for a tilt with the Lions.
Kickoff between the Bolts (4-4) and the Lions (6-2) is at 1:05 p.m. (CT).
Here are five final thoughts ahead of Week 10:
1. Keep it rolling
Nine weeks down, nine to go in the NFL season.
As the Chargers begin the second half of their slate, they welcome one of the toughest tests of the entire season.
"Just all around, a really good test," Joey Bosa said of the Lions. "The last two weeks, I think we had a couple good wins.
"But this is going to be a real good test for us and we'll have a true understanding of where we sit after this game," Bosa added.
The Bolts have embarked on an up-and-down ride thus far, with pairs of losses and wins alternating each other to get to this point.
Now is the chance for a third straight win, which would put the Chargers above .500 for the first time this season … and put them squarely in the AFC playoff picture.
"We've seen the journey of this team coming together. Every week is a more consistent product it seems like," said tackle Rashawn Slater. "We're looking to continue that trend. Keep stacking them.
"You never want to peak early in the season," Slater added. "We're just looking forward and trying to get better every day and make sure we're playing our best football."
Linebacker Eric Kendricks knows the challenge the NFC North-leading Lions will bring to Southern California.
"We're going to start seeing the best version of teams but I don't think teams have seen the best version of us," Kendricks said. "We can't be having steps back. We're going to learn along the way but we have to raise our standards, too, because everyone around the league is playing good ball now.
"We just need one [win]," Kendricks added about trying to get a third straight victory. "One at a time. It's a cliché and it gets old after awhile, but it really is just one week at a time."
The Chargers enter Week 10 with a clean bill of health as nobody on the 53-man roster has an injury designation for Sunday.
That should benefit the Bolts as they look to make a statement as the second half of the NFL season begins.
"We're ready to play," said Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley. "We had a good week of practice and guys responded well off the trip [to the East Coast]. It's time to play."
2. A different kind of test
The Bolts defense has been on a heater of late, giving up just 19 total points in wins over the Bears and Jets.
The Chargers rank seventh during the past two games in EPA per play against at minus-0.277.
But it's worth noting that the offenses of Chicago (16th in EPA per play at minus-0.073) and New York (31st at minus-0.467) haven't exactly hummed this season.
Enter the Lions offense, which ranks second in the league at 390.6 yards per game. That yardage total has been buoyed by a passing game (259.3 yards per game) and a rushing attack (131.4) that both rank sixth in the league.
That balance stood out right away to Staley.
"They really force you to defend everybody on the field," Staley said. "They have a lot of different guys who touch the football. Jared [Goff] has a lot of experience playing that way.
"That is how he played with [Rams Head Coach] Sean [McVay] with the Rams, and that is how he is playing now," Staley added. "He is playing really smart football and he is getting the ball to his playmakers."
Staley and Goff were together with the Rams in 2020, meaning the Chargers Head Coach knows the opposing quarterback well.
So, too, does Eric Kendricks, who used to be in the NFC and has faced Goff six total times in his career.
"I played against him for a lot of years … I've never underestimated him," Kendricks said. "But last year I feel like he woke a lot of people up."
Besides the stats listed above, Detroit's offense stands out in advanced metrics, too.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Lions rank fifth in both EPA per play (0.044) and in successful play percentage (37.6).
The Bolts know they are in for a different kind of test Sunday afternoon, and it will be Goff who's leading the way on the other side.
"Poised. Experienced. He knows exactly where to go with the ball. He understands run structures," said Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley. "He gets them out of the bad plays. He doesn't run them to places where they don't need to run to; he'll change the play at the line of scrimmage.
"We have to do a really good job of disguising and making it hard for him," Ansley added.
Check out the best photos from the Chargers Thursday practice at Hoag Performance Center
3. Win in the trenches
Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell has grabbed a few headlines over the years.
But the coffee-guzzling, kneecap-biting coach also has Detroit on pace for its most wins since 1991, and has a distinct style he wants his team to play with.
"I don't know him well, but I know where he's been and what he believes in. What I'm seeing on tape, they're a line-of-scrimmage team. They're physical on both sides of the football," Staley said.
Slater echoed the same thoughts about the Lions wanting to win in the trenches.
"That's the vibe you get, seeing all that stuff," Slater said. "And it's true, that's where the game is won every week. I definitely think they bring that mentality and you can see it on the tape."
When the Chargers are on offense, they'll go up against a Detroit front that ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (76.8) and is sixth overall at 296.9 total yards allowed pr game.
"They all execute their jobs really well. Not a lot of errors, mental errors," Slater said. "They all know what they're doing and their responsibilities. They do a good job of that."
The Bolts main focus when they pass will be on defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Hutchinson ranks sixth among all edge rushers with a pass-rush grade of 89.3, according to PFF.
"Effort and football awareness. Obviously, we see the physical component, but his effort is phenomenal," said Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore. "Then, I think he has really extremely high-level awareness on the field. You've seen the turnovers that he's created.
"The plays, he's aware of what's going on around him and he makes a lot of highlight-reel plays," Moore added. "It's kind of scary when you watch him."
Slater said: "Man, he's an incredible athlete. And he just plays super hard. Those are the two things that jump out on tape. He's almost playing at a different speed."
Defensively, the Bolts will try to make their mark against a Lions offensive line that is among the best in the league.
According to PFF, Detroit ranks second in team run-block grade (72.3) and is third in team pass-block grade (75.3).
"I think that it starts with the front. You have to take care of their offensive line," Ansley said. "No matter who is running the ball, those guys are big and strong up front, and they're athletic."
The Lions offensive line is highlighted by tackle Penei Sewell, who was drafted six spots ahead of Slater in 2021. Fellow tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow were also first-round picks, while guards Jonah Jackson and Graham Glasgow were third-round selections.
"I haven't played against [Sewell] as much but Taylor I played against a few times over in Detroit while being in Chicago," said Khalil Mack. "They got solid guys up front. It's going to be our job to make them one dimensional and play the pass hopefully."
4. Keep winning the turnover margin
Staley spent 30-plus minutes at the podium for his Wednesday press conference earlier this week.
And when the topic of a team's turnover margin came up, Staley made it crystal clear how important the stat is.
"It's the No. 1 stat [between] winning and losing, and we put an awful lot of emphasis on it because it's a team stat," Staley said. "It's not just a defensive stat, our offense has done a really good job of taking care of it, as have our special teams.
"We're never going to lose sight of what's most important, and I think our team is doing a good job of that right now," Staley added.
Sure enough, the Bolts are currently tied for the NFL's top turnover differential at plus-9 as the Chargers have forced 15 takeaways and given the ball away just six times.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Bolts have played 11 straight games without losing the turnover battle, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. It's also the Chargers longest stretch of doing so since 2004, when they did it in 14 straight games.
The Chargers most recent win was the epitome of their success in this area as the Bolts earned a 3-0 win in the turnover margin over the Jets, the first time the team got a plus-3 win since Week 1 of the 2022 season.
And while the Bolts offense had a tough outing with less than 200 yards of total offense, the group didn't turn the ball over on the way to a 21-point win.
"Justin [Herbert] protected the football. That was a big point in that game," Moore said. "That was going to have a huge impact on that game. Obviously, you'd love to throw for more yards and move the ball downfield more, but we have to continue to work on that."
Detroit is tied for 12th with a turnover margin of exactly zero. The Lions have 10 giveaways, which is tied for the sixth-fewest on offense. And they have 10 takeaways, which is tied for the fifth-fewest defensively.
If the Chargers can make it a dozen straight games without losing the turnover battle, they should find themselves in a position to win late in the fourth quarter.
5. Consistency from Dicker
Don't look now, but Cameron Dicker is thriving in his second season with the Bolts.
Chargers kicker joined the team midway through the 2022 season and hit 19 of 20 field goals while making all 24 extra points.
Halfway through the 2023 season, Dicker has been true on 13 of 14 field goals and hasn't missed in 22 extra point tries.
Dicker said this week that he's simply enjoying life in the NFL these days.
"Good. Body feels good and I'm happy with how things have been going," Dicker said. "Hoping to just keep everything rolling the way it has been going.
"There's ups and downs every day so it's rolling with it. When game time comes, it's doing what you need to do to make kicks," Dicker added. "I enjoy that process and just this while I have it. It's a fun spot to be."
Chargers Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken added: "He's Steady Eddie. Very consistent in his approach. Not just in the games but out in practice, he's a professional. Whether it's a 58-yarder, 55-yarder or a PAT, he has the same mindset and he's going to approach every kick the same way."
Dicker has shown off his leg this season, too, as four of his field goals have come from 50-plus. That includes three straight games with a kick from that distance — two from 55 yards out and one from 53.
If Dicker hits from 50-plus again this season then he'll become the Chargers single-season record holder with five kicks of at least 50 yards.
"It's cool, but the goal is wherever the kicks are, just go make them," Dicker said.
Some people outside the team facility wondered about Dicker's leg strength this offseason when he was battling with Dustin Hopkins for the kicking job.
Safe to say Dicker has quieted those people down.
"I don't really care if people had questions about it," Dicker said with a laugh. "It doesn't matter to me. I trust myself and what's going on so I hope that other people can trust it."
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