The NFL season has officially reached the halfway point.
Coming into the season, the Chargers starting lineup was considered one of the best in the league, as it had high-level talent just about everywhere.
At the midway point, Pro Football Focus' Brad Spielberger ranked the Chargers as the seventh-best roster in the league — a slight drop from their preseason ranking of No. 3.
The story of the Chargers season up to this point could be told by injuries, as the team has accumulated a number of significant injuries and star players missing time.
Spielberger acknowledges that health remains biggest weakness for the Chargers at the halfway mark of the season.
Staying healthy. The injury bug has once again ravaged the Chargers in 2022, with wide receiver Keenan Allen not contributing since Week 1, wide receiver Mike Williams now out for an extended period, edge defender Joey Bosa out since Week 3 and cornerback JC Jackson lost for the season.
Because of the injuries to some of the most important targets on the Chargers, running back Austin Ekeler has had to carry the load a bit more on offense.
Despite a slow start, Ekeler has put together a nice season, amassing for 808 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns, leading Spielberger to name Ekeler as the Bolts biggest strength through nine weeks.
After a slow start to the season, Ekeler has eight touchdowns since Week 4, and his 60 receptions with 462 yards after the catch are pacing all running backs by a wide margin. With Keenan Allen and Mike Williams missing time, Ekeler has become all the more important.
Browse through live action photos of the Bolts Week 9 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons
With nine games to go, there is plenty of football left to be played.
At 5-3, the Chargers remain in play not only for the AFC playoffs, but the division as well — which is all you can ask for given the number of players that have missed time. Most of the players who suffered injuries will make a return sooner or later, making the Bolts an interesting team as we approach the final stretch of the season.
One player in particular is outside linebacker Joey Bosa, who returned to Hoag Performance Center last week to rehab his groin injury.
Bosa's return to the field will be a spark for the defense, as his ability to rush the passer and play the run effectively can jumpstart the team for their stretch run. Bosa is Spielberger's X-factor for the second half of the year, as his return will benefit the team greatly.
The sooner he can return, the better. Khalil Mack has held down the fort relatively well in his absence, including causing a key forced fumble against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9 when he ripped the ball away from wide receiver Drake London.
To read Spielberger's full rankings, click here.
Bolt Up for 2023!
Secure your 2023 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.