Preview: Revitalized Rodgers, Packers roll into matchup with reeling Chargers
CARSON, Calif. — Despite being among the top quarterbacks in passing yards, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers find themselves going in opposite directions heading into Sunday’s game.
Rodgers, who is second with 2,324 yards, has been revitalized under Matt LaFleur, who is the first coach in his first year to win seven of his first eight games since Jim Harbaugh in 2011. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn is hoping a change in offensive play-callers can jump-start his team after Ken Whisenhunt was fired as coordinator on Monday and replaced by quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen.
“It’s obvious these first eight weeks that we just haven’t been good enough, offensively. There were a handful of games where we should have scored more points and won games,” said Rivers, who is third in the league with 2,315 yards.
The Chargers have been out of synch offensively for most of the season. They have been held under 40 rushing yards in four straight games, becoming the first team since the 1947 Detroit Lions to be stuck in neutral that long.
Green Bay comes in as one of the more potent offenses in the league. Aaron Jones is tied for second in rushing touchdowns with eight while Rodgers had a league-leading 21 completions of 20 yards or more in October.
“I think we’ve definitely found different recipes to victory every week. I think the staples are there, though. We’re gaining confidence every week,” Rodgers said.
CAN GORDON GET IN GEAR?
Another player who could benefit from the Chargers change at offensive coordinator is Melvin Gordon. The running back missed two months because of a contract dispute and is averaging only 2.6 yards per carry with one carry over 10 yards in four games.
The Chargers had only 12 running plays in last week’s win at Chicago, but Lynn has hinted that he wants to see more carries and consistency on the ground.
HOME GAME IN NAME ONLY
The Chargers haven’t had much of a home-field advantage this season. After going 10-6 at their tiny stadium in Carson, California, the past two seasons, they have dropped their past three. They’ve also felt like the visiting team in recent games against Denver and Pittsburgh.
The Packers made the L.A. Memorial Coliseum feel like Lambeau West during their game against the Rams last season and figure to have an even bigger noise advantage on Sunday. Due to the limited capacity, resale prices are more than $300, making it one of the higher-priced games on the secondary market this season.
Rodgers said when Green Bay faced the Chargers in San Diego in 2011, he remembered Rivers having to go to a silent count a couple of times because of Packers fans noise.
“I’m sure it’s tough for the home team as they wait for their stadium to be built to have those home games be more like road games when a team like Green Bay comes to town,” Rodgers said. “It’s obviously small for an NFL stadium, big for a soccer stadium, and a really nice environment. There’s shouldn’t be any bad seats in the house.”
ADAMS COMING BACK?
Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams, who missed the past four games because of turf toe, returned to practice this week. He was listed as limited on Wednesday and Thursday, but said he is not having much pain running routes.
“Once you can push off and get out of your stance you can stride out and really run the way you could when you were healthy. That’s how I’m feeling now,” Adams said on Thursday.
The Packers and Chargers are two of the top three teams when it comes to using their running backs in the passing game. The Chargers are tied with Patriots for the league lead in backfield receptions with 73 while the Packers are third with 63.
Los Angeles‘ Austin Ekeler leads running backs in receptions (51) and receiving yards (507). He is on pace to become the first back in league history to have 100 or more catches and 1,000 yards in the same season.
Aaron Jones had a career-high 159 receiving yards on seven receptions and scored two touchdowns last week. It was the second-most receiving yards in a game by a Packers running back.
Green Bay LB Za’Darius Smith and Los Angeles DE Joey Bosa are on a roll when it comes to sacks.
Smith is tied for fourth in the league with eight sacks and had two in last week’s win at Kansas City, Bosa, who is tied for seventh with seven, is the first Charger to get multiple sacks in consecutive games since Kevin Burnett in 2010.
GREEN BAY (7-1) at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (3-5)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
OPENING LINE — Packers by 4
RECORD VS. SPREAD — Green Bay 4-4, Los Angeles 2-5-1
SERIES RECORD — Packers lead 10-1
LAST MEETING — Packers beat Chargers 27-20, Oct. 15, 2015
LAST WEEK — Packers beat Chiefs 31-24; Chargers beat Bears 17-16
AP PRO32 RANKING — Packers No. 4, Chargers No. 23
PACKERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (13), RUSH (18), PASS (8).
PACKERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (22), RUSH (24), PASS (19).
CHARGERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (17), RUSH (28), PASS (6).
CHARGERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (12), RUSH (23), PASS (6).
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Packers have won past seven in series. … Green Bay has won all six as visiting team. … Matchup features two of top three QBs in yards. Packers’ Rodgers second with 2,324 yards and Chargers’ Rivers third with 2,135. … Los Angeles has new offensive playcaller after coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was fired Monday. … Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur 19th NFL head coach and first since Jim Harbaugh in 2011 to win at least seven of first eight games. … QB Aaron Rodgers has two straight games with 300-plus passing yards, three-plus passing TDs and no INTs. … Green Bay has rushed for more than 115 yards in three of past four games, tied for second in league since Week 5. … RB Aaron Jones was only player in league in October with 250-plus rushing yards and 250-plus receiving yards. First Packer to do that in calendar month since merger. … Green Bay WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling second in league with five receptions of 40-plus yards. … LB Za’Darius Smith’s eight sacks most by Green Bay player at midseason since Clay Matthews had nine in 2012. … Packers one of three teams Chargers QB Philip Rivers has not defeated. He set career highs in yards (503), completions (43) and attempts (65) in previous meeting in 2015. … Chargers have four straight games under 40 yards rushing, first time that has happened since 1946 Detroit Lions. …. LA one of two teams to have two players in top 10 in receptions. RB Austin Ekeler and WR Keenan Allen tied for sixth with 51. … RB Melvin Gordon has TD in past six games vs. NFC. … TE Hunter Henry averaging 13.6 yards per reception in past three games. … DE Joey Bosa has four sacks in past two games. His 0.83 sacks per game average since joining league in 2016 second in NFL. … Punter Ty Long second in league with 48.6-yard average. … Fantasy tip: Chargers WR Mike Williams is averaging five or more catches and 70-plus yards in past two home games.