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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Cowboys
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The Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) visit the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) in front of the entire nation on Thanksgiving this Thursday. Kickoff from AT&T Stadium is set for 1:30 p.m. PT.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
Fresh off a 54-point game, Philip Rivers looks to keep momentum rolling for the Chargers’ offense. Number 17 is 214-for-355 (60.3-percent) on the year for 2,514 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions for an 89.6 passer rating. Keenan Allen is the team’s most dangerous pass catcher, and is fresh off a game in which he hauled in 12 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. KA13 has 56 receptions on the year for 755 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler have formed a dynamic duo of late, equally effective pounding the rock as they are catching it out of the backfield. Gordon has carried the ball 167 times for 633 yards (3.8 ypc) and five touchdowns while also adding 35 receptions for 250 yards and four TDs. Meanwhile, Ekeler has 31 carries on the year for 164 yards (5.3 ypc) and two touchdowns in addition to 21 catches for 197 yards and three TDs.
On Offense for the Cowboys
Dak Prescott continues to be one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the league. The second-year player has completed 201-of-320 attempts (62.8-percent) for 2,139 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven picks for an 89.8 passer rating. He’s also run 34 times for 247 yards with another five scores. His top target is Dez Bryant, who has caught 50 passes for 541 yards and four touchdowns. Fellow wideouts Terrance Williams (35-401-0) and Cole Beasley (26-195-4) are also dangerous weapons. You also can’t forget about Jason Witten, as the veteran tight end continues to be effective with 43 catches for 385 yards and a trio of TDs. On the ground, the Cowboys will once again be without Ezekiel Elliot due to suspension. Alfred Morris is expected to carry most of the load in his absence, having rushed 42 times for 260 yards (6.2 ypc). Rod Smith has also been dangerous when on the field, carrying the rock 21 times for 94 yards (4.5 ypc).
On Defense for the Chargers
The Bolts look to pick up where they left off last week when they forced five interceptions and one fumble while scoring two defensive touchdowns. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are gamechangers up front. Bosa’s 10.5 sacks are the second-highest total in the NFL, one off the league high. Meanwhile, Ingram has gotten to the quarterback 8.5 times. Their combined 19 quarterback sacks are the most by any pair of teammates in the NFL. Finally, Tre Boston leads the team in interceptions with four, one ahead of Casey Hayward with three, while Jahleel Addae paces the squad with 67 tackles.
On Defense for the Cowboys
DeMarcus Lawrence is one of only a few players on par with Bosa and Ingram when it comes to rushing the quarterback as his 11.5 sacks are tied for the NFL lead. They mark a career-high, and are the second-most of any Cowboys player through 10 games in franchise history. Meanwhile, Jaylon Smith has made his presence felt in his return from a significant injury, leading the team with 73 tackles.
The Chargers trail the all-time series 6-4, but have won the last two and three of the last four. The teams are 2-2 in games played in Dallas.
By the Numbers
The Chargers rank 15th in total offense (341.3 yards per game), 12th in passing (246.9 ypg), 25th in rushing (94.4 ypg) and 16th in points (22.1). The Cowboys rank 14th in total offense (342.2 ypg), 26th in passing (201.8 ypg), fourth in rushing (140.4 ypg) and ninth in points (24.2).
Defensively, the Bolts rank 22nd in total defense (348.7 ypg), eighth in passing (209.8 ypg), 32nd in rushing (138.9 ypg) and eighth in points allowed (19.6). Dallas ranks 15th in total defense (331.6 ypg), 14th in passing (215.9 ypg), 21st in rushing (115.7 ypg) and 20th in points allowed (24.2).
Milestones on the Horizon
Keenan Allen needs one more touchdown reception to reach 20 for his career, which would move him into a tie with Jacque MacKinnon for 15th in team history.
Melvin Gordon needs two more receiving touchdowns to reach six for the season, which would tie Danny Woodhead (2013, ‘15) for the second-most in a single season by a running back in franchise history.
With his next point, Nick Novak will reach 501 for his career as a Charger, which would pass Lance Alworth for sixth in team history.
Gates needs eight more receptions to reach 921 for his career, which would pass Torry Holt for 20th in NFL history. He also needs 35 more receiving yards to reach 11,374 for his career, which would pass Keenan McCardell for 32nd in NFL history. Gates needs 51 more receiving yards to reach 11,390 for his career, which would pass Rod Smith for 31st in league annals.
With one more touchdown catch, Tyrell Williams will become the 10th Charger to ever reach double-digits in TD receptions.
Noteworthy vs. the Cowboys
In two career games against the Cowboys, Antonio Gates has caught 14 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. In the Sept. 29, 2013 matchup at home against the Cowboys, Gates hauled in all 10 of his targets for 136 yards and touchdown, including a 56-yard score. The 136-yard effort was the fourth-best of his career.
Philip Rivers sports a 109.8 rating in his two career games against the Cowboys. He has passed for 673 yards and completed 75.7% of his passes for four touchdowns with two interceptions. In his last outing against the Cowboys on Sept. 29, 2013, Rivers threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns on 35-for-42 passing in the 30-21 win. The 35 completions are tied for the fourth-best total of his career while he has passed for 400 or more yards eight times.
Playing for the Redskins, Nick Novak nailed a 47-yard game-winner as time expired to give Washington a 22-19 victory on Nov. 5, 2006. He is 5-for-6 lifetime against the Cowboys.
In his second career start, Keenan Allen caught five passes for 80 yards against the Cowboys on Sept. 29, 2013.
Corey Liuget recorded a sack, forced a fumble and totaled six tackles in the win over the Cowboys on Sept. 29, 2013.
Cowboys Running Backs Coach Gary Brown played for the Chargers in 1997.
Cowboys Assistant Head Coach/Special Team Coordinator Rich Bisaccia played for the Chargers from 2011-12.
Cowboys Safeties Coach Greg Jackson played for the Chargers from 1997-00.
Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn coached in Dallas from 2005-06.
Chargers Tight End Coach John McNulty coached in Dallas (2003).
Chargers Running Backs Coach Alfredo Roberts played in Dallas from 1991-93.
Chargers ILB Korey Toomer played in Dallas in 2014.
CBS – Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
KFI-AM 640 – Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Nick Hardwick (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)
Spanish Radio: KFWB – AM 980 – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Tony Alvarez (analyst)
Chargers radio broadcasts throughout the season will be able to be heard across 11 radio stations from Southern California to Nevada. Fans can listen in English on KGB-FM and KLSD AM (San Diego), KNWZ-AM (Palm Springs), KALZ-AM (Fresno), KBFP-AM (Bakersfield), KNWH-FM (Yucca Valley), KRLV-FM (Las Vegas), KRAK-AM (Victorville/Hesperia), KATY-FM (San Bernardino) and KPLY-AM (Reno). Spanish broadcasts can be heard on XHFG-FM (San Diego).