Austin Ekeler hasn't been a dangerous running the football in 2023. He has turned into a glorified receiver lining up in the backfield. Ekeler hasn't hit 50 rushing yards in four of five games this season. His one big game running the ball was in Week 1 against the Dolphins.
He carried the ball 16 times for 117 yards with one touchdown. This 7.3-yard per-carry average was his best of the season, but things quickly declined. Since this contest, he hasn't averaged more than 3.4 yards per attempt and has been under two yards in two games.
This makes us ask the question, is Austin Ekeler still a viable rushing threat? Ekeler's talent is undeniable, but for the first time this season, we're going to lean under on his rushing total.
The running back's total against the Lions is listed at 49.5, which he hasn't hit in four of five games. RB2 Joshua Kelley creates explosive gains when the Chargers are running the ball effectively. He has averaged more yards per carry in the past three weeks compared to Ekeler.
We believe this will be the case against the Lions on Sunday. Detroit ranks fourth in Defensive Hog Index, and this group has been elite against the run. They're top five in rushing yards allowed per game and should be stout once again.
Additionally, the Lions should force the Chargers to throw the ball consistently. Detroit ranks 11th in Offensive Passer Rating and eighth in Real Quarterback Rating. The Chargers have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL, so they must throw to keep pace with Detroit. This should keep Ekeler out of running situations for most of the game.