Chargers can’t be considered AFC favorites after blowout loss to Ravens, but are still conference contenders –

BALTIMORE — Justin Herbert hasn’t struggled much in his short NFL career, becoming the main cog toward the Los Angeles Chargers emerging into an AFC power over the last several weeks. Herbert and the Chargers faced a cruel reality check in Sunday’s beatdown by the Baltimore Ravens. The Chargers still have a long way to go. Los Angeles was beaten in all three phases of the game by Baltimore, a surprising result considering the Chargers stood tall with the AFC powers through five games — and came out on top. A road win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 showcased Los Angeles was going to compete for the division title, while a Week 5 win over the Cleveland Browns proved the Chargers were a contender for the AFC title. Sunday’s game against the Ravens was a test for the Chargers to flex their muscle on how good they were. Instead, they had the look of a paper tiger. The Chargers aren’t frauds by any stretch of the imagination or any hot take on social media. They’re just not on the Ravens’ level yet as an AFC favorite. “We’ve beat four really good teams and we’ve lost to two really good teams. Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said. “I think that’s where the truth is. We need to learn from this game because there’s plenty in this game that we need to learn from.” Los Angeles still has a chance to win every week with Justin Herbert at quarterback, but even he was mortal against an aggressive Baltimore defense Sunday. Herbert finished with season lows in completions (22), pass yards (195), completion percentage (56.4), and passer rating (67.8), an indicator of how his team performed as a whole. The Chargers were held to season lows in points (six), yards (208), yards per play (3.9), and third down percentage (25%). Los Angeles couldn’t get anything going on the ground, held to under 100 rushing yards for the fourth time in six games (Chargers had a season-low 26 against the Ravens). The Chargers also have a problem stopping the run, allowing over 180 yards rushing for the fourth time in six games (Ravens finished with 187 rushing yards). Los Angeles clearly has problems that need to be solved. The Chargers aren’t a bad football team, with their four wins against teams that are a combined 12-12 — two of which are contenders in the AFC West (Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders). Their two losses are to teams that are a combined 10-2. The Chargers may not be a favorite in the AFC like the Ravens. They hope to get to that level coming out of their bye week, still looking to prove they aren’t in the second tier of the conference in 2021.  “We’re not mad at the world, the world is not over, there’s a lot of football still left to be played,” Chargers safety Derwin James said. “I feel like we learned a lot from this game and we’re going to be better for sure.”

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