Here are Los Angeles’ keys to victory over Carolina on Sunday:
Take advantage of suspect defense
Led by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chargers will have a favorable matchup against a Panthers defense that has allowed 32.5 points per game through the first two games of the season.
Los Angeles has established themselves as one of the better teams at running the football, averaging 169 yards per game, which ranks No. 6 in the NFL. Meanwhile, Carolina’s defense has allowed six rushing scores already.
While the offense can win solely on the ground, they will have the opportunity to exploit a young secondary.
If L.A. can create some big plays early and often with their plethora of play-makers, they should be able to control the clock the rest of the way out with handing the ball off to running backs Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley.
Pressure, pressure, pressure
The defensive line has been the bright spot for the Chargers, as they are second in the league in quarterback pressures. It was evident last Sunday when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was suffocated through the first three quarters, struggling to connect with his pass-catchers.
Los Angeles needs to keep the heat turned on against QB Teddy Bridgewater. They will face a Carolina offensive line, which features former Chargers offensive linemen Russell Okung and Michael Schofield, that has allowed six sacks in the first two games of the season.
The line will be without edge defender Melvin Ingram, who was placed on the injured reserve. But they will have the ascending outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu in place of Ingram.
Limit explosive plays
The Chargers’ pass-rush has been key to their defensive success, but they’ve been victims of giving up big plays at crucial moments. Last weekend, they allowed a game-changing 54-yard touchdown to Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
The Panthers will be without their best offensive player, running back Christian McCaffrey, who was used religiously both in the running and passing game. However, Carolina still has a weapon that is bound to make a big play at any given moment.
Wide receiver Robby Anderson, who was signed this past offseason, has recorded back-to-back 100-yard receiving games with his new team. The Panthers also have a couple of other players that can make an impact, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.