Which team holds the edge? We give our prediction ahead of the Chargers at Falcons Week 9 matchup.
The Chargers will travel to Atlanta following their bye week and square off against the NFC South-leading Falcons.
After a week off, having time to rest and perhaps get healthy, the Chargers come out of the bye week more banged up than they went into it. The Chargers have ruled out six players ahead of Sunday’s game, including WR Keenan Allen (hamstring), WR Mike Williams (ankle), TE Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring), OLB Chris Rumph (knee), DL Jerry Tillery (back) and K Dustin Hopkins (hamstring).
They have two players listed as questionable, featuring WR DeAndre Carter (illness) and LB Amen Ogbongbemiga (groin). Chargers coach Brandon Staley said Friday following the team’s final practice that Ogbongbemiga will play on Sunday.
While the Falcons don’t have the sheer volume of injuries the Chargers have, they will be without their best defensive player. CB A.J. Terrell (hamstring) and LG Elijah Wilkinson (knee) have each been ruled out, while S Erik Harris (ankle) is questionable.
Meanwhile, the Falcons will be getting a lift on offense in part of activating RB Cordarrelle Patterson off injured reserve as he makes his return against the Chargers.
Typically when a team has two full weeks to prepare for a game coming off their bye, I tend to lean in their favor. But this week doesn’t feel like that’s the slam dunk pick.
The Chargers injuries have worsened over the last two weeks, particularly their wide receiver group.
Keenan Allen suffered a setback to his hamstring during the bye week while completing his rehab training and Mike Williams continues to be out with a high ankle sprain. That means Justin Herbert will be without his top two targets as he’ll have to rely on the receiver depth to get through this game.
The Chargers wide receiver group will include Joshua Palmer, DeAndre Carter (questionable – illness), Jason Moore Jr., Michael Bandy and Keelan Doss, who was signed to the active roster on Saturday.
The Chargers have dealt with an abundance of injuries in what feels like all season and yet they’ve still found a way to hold a 4-3 record through their first seven games.
Herbert is a special passer and I wouldn’t put anything past him to carry the team to victory, but based on the depleted receiver group, it’s going to take a lot to overcome the litany of injuries.
Not only are the Chargers particularly short-handed on offense, but the Falcons are no stranger to scoring. Atlanta enters Week 9 as the sixth-ranked scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 24 points per game.
The Falcons have heavily relied on their running game, boasting a top five rushing attack that averages 158 yards on the ground per game. That doesn’t bode well for the Chargers who’ve been susceptible in allowing big runs, ranking 27th against the ground game.
With the Chargers offense beat up and having to go on a cross-country road trip to face a team who’s ascending, I think the variables are too much to overcome as I have the Falcons coming away with this one.
Prediction: Falcons 24, Chargers 20
2022 game prediction record: 6-1
– Nick Cothrel, Beat Writer
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Read more from Charger Report:
Chargers Place TE Donald Parham Jr. on Injured Reserve, Sign WR Keelan Doss to Active RosterInjuries Worsen For Chargers Coming Off Bye WeekChargers at Falcons Week 9 Injury Report: FridayChargers WR Joshua Palmer Expects to Return vs. Falcons Following Absence From ConcussionChargers at Falcons Week 9 Injury Report: Thursday
Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.
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