The Chargers list Melvin Gordon as questionable for the Cardinals, but head coach Anthony Lynn shouldn’t take any risks.
It’s understandable the Chargers are anxious to erase the stink of last week’s loss against the Broncos from their nostrils. That doesn’t mean they will need to take unnecessary risks to knock off the Cardinals on Sunday. One decision they need to think long and hard about is whether to play running back Melvin Gordon.
The talented rusher was a full participant in Chargers’ practice on Wednesday, but his injured hamstring limited his activity on Thursday. As a result, Gordon will head into Sunday’s game with an official designation as questionable.
The Chargers need to treat him with kid gloves ahead of the game. If there’s any chance at all that playing him against Arizona would cause his hamstring further injury, they should leave him on the sideline.
At 7-3 the Chargers are in great position to earn a Wild Card Playoff berth. It’s also highly unlikely they will catch the 9-2 Kansas City Chiefs. Los Angeles is one of the few NFL teams that isn’t facing a ton to play for this week. One game in either direction won’t do a ton to influence their playoff positioning.
Perhaps if the Chargers were playing a marquee opponent it would be a different thought process. The simple truth is they should be able to beat the Cardinals comfortably without Gordon’s services. The Cardinals enter the matchup with a 2-8 record for a reason. Josh Rosen and the Cardinals just aren’t that good.
It shouldn’t take a ton of points to send Arizona to their ninth loss. They enter the game ranked 31st or 32nd in points, rushing yards and passing yards per game. The Chargers defense has the talent to shut Rosen and company down.
That should allow Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense a relatively stress-free ball game. Rivers is playing at close to an MVP level this season. He’s not getting the same publicity that guys like Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes are enjoying in the media, but he’s been almost as good. Look for him to enjoy a productive day against the Cardinals’ secondary.
Chargers officials need to take the long view with Gordon. They’re going to need him somewhere close to 100 percent if they are going to make any sort of meaningful playoff run. That’s why risking him in a regular season game against the Cardinals in November just doesn’t make sense. Gordon should only play in this game if his hamstring won’t limit him at all.