At the halfway point of the season, the Chargers stand at 5-3.
Following Week 9 around the league, NFL analysts and publications have released their power rankings. Take a look at where the Bolts are ranked as they enter their Sunday Night Football matchup against the 49ers.
No. 15: Dan Hanzus - NFL.com (Last week: No. 16)
Justin Herbert is making it work. The quarterback made big throws when it counted on Sunday, leading the Chargers to a 20-17 win over the Falcons without his top two wide receivers. It's unclear how much more time Mike Williams and Keenan Allen will miss, but Herbert showed in Atlanta that he can make playmakers out of complementary roster pieces like Josh Palmer and DeAndre Carter. Absurd fun fact: Austin Ekeler had zero touchdowns in the Bolts' first three games, but has 10 -- ten! -- in the last five. Ekeler is an underrated gem who will continue to eat as long as the L.A. wide receiver room remains a M.A.S.H. unit.
No. 14: NFL Staff - Bleacher Report (Last week: No. 14)
The Los Angeles Chargers have a long history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And of injuries that have derailed seasons. There has been no shortage of the latter in 2022, but the Bolts avoided the former in gutting out a last-second win Sunday in Atlanta.
While talking to reporters after the win, head coach Brandon Staley said the comeback was proof that these aren't the same old disappointing Chargers.
"Just outside people; there's a focus on what's happened before," he said. "With us, this is just part of the NFL. This isn't exclusive to any team. ... Since I've been the head coach [since 2021] we've played in a bunch of close ones, and we're comfortable in this space. When you have as many people go down as we have this season, and you go on the road, it's not going to be poetic. Maybe it could be if you were full strength and had a full army out there. Maybe like in the first game for us, or part of the second game. But for us, we've just got to be able to fight the fight based on who we have and based on what's happening. I think our guys are really used to that."
The Chargers aren't without issues—the secondary and especially wide receivers have been blasted by those injuries. And the Bolts are still looking up at the Chiefs in the AFC West. The schedule won't do them any favors, either—their next four games are all against teams that made the playoffs in 2021, including a Week 11 rematch with the Chiefs.
But credit where it's due: The Chargers are hanging in there.
No. 14: Bo Wulf - The Athletic (Last week: No. 13)
Check out the best shots from the Chargers, 20-17, last second win over the Falcons in Week 9
No. 11: Austin Gayle - The Ringer (Last week: No. 11)
No. 10: Vinnie Iyer - Sporting News (Last week: No. 11)
The Chargers have injuries on their offensive line, defense and in their receiving corps. But they have fought hard with Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler leading the way with just enough timely stops. Brandon Staley is doing an underrated job of coaching with a shorthanded team.
No. 15: Pete Prisco - CBS Sports (Last week: No. 15)
They won their fourth close game of the season against Atlanta, which was a must-win game. The offense showed some life in the passing game, which it had to do.
Get an inside look at the Chargers celebrating their Week 9, 20-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium!
No. 15: Frank Schwab - Yahoo Sports (Last week: No. 15)
The Chargers aren't known for overcoming adversity and grinding out wins but that's what they're doing. The injury situation is awful and they're 5-3. I don't know if they can stay in the playoff race given the players they're missing, but being 5-3 right now isn't that bad for them.
No. 15: NFL Nation - Lindsey Thiry - ESPN.com (Last week: No. 16)
Non-QB MVP: RB Austin Ekeler
Ekeler leads the NFL with 10 touchdowns, including six rushing and four receiving. He has rushed for a touchdown in five consecutive games, the longest such streak currently in the NFL. And he leads the league with 457 yards after the catch, ahead of last season's triple crown winner Cooper Kupp (406). In a season when the Chargers have been plagued by injuries, Ekeler continues to be available and has been a standout option for quarterback Justin Herbert.
No. 13: Mike Florio - Pro Football Talk (Last week: No. 14)
No. 14: Conor Orr - Sports Illustrated (Last week: 16)
Bolt Up for 2023!
Secure your 2023 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.