After improving to 3-3 with last weekend's win over the Cardinals, the Seahawks are off to L.A. this weekend to face the Chargers, who are 4-2 coming off Monday night's overtime win over the Broncos. To learn more about this week's opponent, we reached out to chargers.com senior writer Eric Smith with five questions about the Chargers.
The Chargers improved to 4-2 with an overtime win over the Broncos, what's gone well so far this season to get to 4-2, and what still needs to be addressed?
Smith: It's certainly been a bit of a rollercoaster ride through six games. There were bright spots through the first three games, but also a plethora of injuries, most of them to key players. But the Bolts have battled back to win three straight, and while they haven't all been pretty, they have revealed the resiliency of this team. Overcoming those injuries — plus steady play from Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Derwin James, Jr., and Drue Tranquill — has helped right the ship. In terms of what needs to be better, the offense could be a little more lethal in the red zone, where they are in the bottom quartile of the league in touchdown percentage. Defensively, the unit has a penchant for giving up big plays, but they were at their best in the second half and overtime in Monday's win over the Broncos.
Are there concerns about the offense coming out of last week's performance, or was that just more the result of facing a tough Denver defense?
Smith: No real concern, and you have to give Denver's defense some credit, too. The offense certainly didn't have their best outing of the season, but they found a way to grind it out and go 11-for-22 on third down to help get a win. Not to harp on injuries or absences, but the offensive line was a makeshift unit Monday. At one point, the Bolts were playing two rookies, their third-string center and a right tackle battling a knee injury. And that's all without wide receiver Keenan Allen, who has played just 22 snaps this season with a hamstring injury. In the long run, I think the offense will be just fine. But they've definitely had to fight through some adversity early on.
How big has the addition of Khalil Mack been for the defense, particularly in light of the Joey Bosa injury?
Smith: A massive addition. Mack and Bosa were working well together in the first two games before Bosa went down in the first quarter of Week 3 with a torn groin. Since then, Mack has been his dominant self, all while routinely getting double and triple teamed. He has 6.0 sacks in as many games and is unquestionably the team's best edge defender right now.
Other than the obvious big names, what player(s) could potentially be an X-factor in this game?
Smith: J.C. Jackson likely falls into the big-name category, but all eyes will be on him Sunday. Jackson was among the game's best cornerbacks in recent years and signed a big free-agent deal this offseason, but it hasn't clicked for him yet with the Bolts. He had a minor ankle procedure in August and missed two total games, and was then inconsistent when he was on the field. He was benched in the second half Monday but will be back in his starting role against Seattle. The Chargers need him at his best down the stretch, and getting him going before the bye would be an ideal scenario.
What matchup or matchups are you most looking forward to seeing play out on Sunday?
Smith: I'll be watching the Bolts defense against the Seahawks run game. Rookie running back Kenneth Walker III has turned some heads of late and has drawn plenty of praise from Chargers players and coaches this week. Like most defenses, the Bolts are at their best when they can stop the run and force opposing offenses into passing situations. Seattle's offensive line seems to be playing well, even with some youngsters up front, so the Chargers will be tested. We'll see how the Bolts defense holds up on the ground.
The Seahawks face the Chargers at SoFi Stadium for Week 7 of the 2022 season. Take a look back at photos from the past games between the two teams.