OPEN THREAD: Chargers vs. Texans

The San Diego Chargers travel to Houston to take on the Texans. Here is the open thread.

This is just the second time all year that the Chargers will be playing early (10 a.m. PST/1 p.m. EST), with the last one coming in Week 1 against the Kansas Chiefs.

Whether it can really happen or not, the Chargers still have a small chance in the AFC. Unfortunately, losing all those close games (especially the recent one against Miami) really dashed hopes in making the playoffs in 2016. But like we’ve seen in 2013 and 2008, anything can happen. Even Philip Rivers knows that.

That said, there are six games remaining, including Sunday’s battle against the Texans. At 6-4, the Texans are in first place in the AFC South. The thing is, they aren’t that good. They have weapons on offense in WR DeAndre Hopkins and RB Lamar Miller, and their defense is tough (they rank No. 5 in total defense, according to NFL.com), but they aren’t a scary team. The Chargers already took on the rest of the AFC South, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, but they lost to the Indianapolis Colts in what was a very winnable game.

We all wanted to see the Watt family battle, but younger brother Derek won’t get his chance to pancake J.J. due to the latter still being out with injury. Speaking of injuries, the Chargers–for the first time in what seems like forever–don’t have a lot of players on the injury report. CB Brandon Flowers (concussion), LB Jatavis Brown (knee) and TE Asante Cleveland (concussion) have already been ruled out. Meanwhile, WR Travis Benjamin, LB Denzel Perryman and SS Jahleel Addae are set to return. That’s a big boost for the Chargers.

The Chargers just claimed RB Ronnie Hillman off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings this week, so he needs to learn the playbook before getting on the field.

As for the Texans, they are playing the role of the Chargers, dealing with a plethora of injuries on their roster. 17 out of 53 players are on the injury report, including Miller, DE Jadeveon Clowney and NT Vince Wilfork, who were all limited participants in practice. RB Alfred Blue and WR Jaelen Strong have been already ruled out.

The Chargers, who have the fifth-best rushing defense, need to shut down Miller. If they can force Brock Lobster to throw, the Chargers have a very good chance in winning this game. On offense, Rivers is going up against the third-best passing defense in the league, so it would be best for the Bolts to rely on Melvin Gordon, who is having one heck of a year.

A loss pretty much wraps up the season. Many believe the season is already over wirh the way things have been going.

But before everybody gives up on them, let’s see if they can turn things around and go on a winning streak. That, of course, starts today.

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