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Chargers Game Preview: Chargers vs. Packers, Week 9

Storylines:

Rivers vs. Rodgers

As Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers face off for the third time in their careers, fans will once again be witnessing two generational quarterbacks going head to head.

“They’re both franchise quarterbacks (and) future Hall of Famers,” head coach Anthony Lynn said. “There’s a lot of similarities. Both guys are well prepared and it’s like having another coach on the football field.”

While Lynn appreciates the greatness of both QBs, Rivers understands the weight that matchups like these hold, as each quarterback is often pushed to be their best.

“I’ve always thought it was special and meant a little somethin’ when the quarterback over there is the caliber of player Aaron is over the years,” Rivers said. “It’s awesome. You even more so know, we better not have one first down with three minutes left in the second quarter like we had last week, or it’ll be ugly. I’ve certainly respected his game and been in awe of it at times with some of the throws and things he’s done over the course of his career.”

For instance, last time these two squared off in 2015, Rivers threw for a career-high 503 yards, to go with two touchdowns in a 27-20 Chargers loss.

That day, Rivers’ best wasn’t enough to trounce Rodgers, the 2010 season Super Bowl champion and two-time MVP, who at 35-years-old has plenty left in the tank.

“Rodgers moves around like a young man,” Lynn said. “He’s way more mobile than people give him credit for, he rushes for a lot of yards, he’s very creative, he extends plays all the time (and) he’s playing at a really high level.”

In Week 7 against the Raiders, Rodgers was 25-of-31 with 429 passing yards, six total touchdowns and a career-high 158.3 maximum passer rating.

“I mean he can throw it as far as anybody in this league, but I think that’s where you fall short of really giving him his due,” Rivers said. “The accuracy he throws the football with, the anticipation (and) his understanding-- I think it’s all of those things.”

Rodgers proved age is not a number this past Sunday as he completed an incredible side-arm throw while scrambling out of traffic.

This touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference between Green Bay and Kansas City last week. This ability to make seemingly impossible throws is something Rivers admires about Rodgers’ game, but says doesn’t define it.

“I think he has every quality you want in a quarterback and he can make every throw arm-wise,” Rivers said. “The fact that he moves around too, certainly helps him. He can run around a little bit and buy some time. Not only can he run with it, he can make some throws on the run as well.”

New Offensive Play Caller for LAC

Lynn announced Wednesday that quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen will be the primary offensive play caller starting this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

"I have a lot of confidence in the young man,” Lynn said. "I think the players are going to respond to Shane."

Steichen’s résumé includes working as a defensive assistant for the Chargers from 2011-2012 and as the offensive quality control coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2013. Steichen then returned to the Chargers organization as their offensive quality control coach the following season before being promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2016.

Badgley is Back

On Wednesday, Lynn said that kicker Michael Badgley “is ready to go,” for Sunday’s game and that the second-year kicker out of Miami will also handle kickoff duties.

Here are the Chargers’ other corresponding roster moves.

Packers are Rolling

The Green Bay Packers won their seventh game and fourth in a row last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. This is the first time the Packers have won seven of their first eight in the Aaron Rodgers era, and first year head coach Matt LaFleur has the green and gold firing on all cylinders.

From big wins on the road in Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City to critical late-game plays such as Rodgers’ off-balance touchdown pass to find Jamaal Williams in the back of the end zone, the Packers appear to be one of the most complete teams through the NFL’s first eight weeks.

“The really good teams find ways to win when adversity hits,” Rodgers said.

Casey Hayward Faces Former Team

Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward played the first four years of his career in Green Bay and is looking forward to the possibility of defending against his former teammate, Davante Adams.

“Davante, that’s my guy,” Hayward said. “(He’s) a really good player, I think he’s one of the top five wide receivers in this league. He and Aaron Rodgers, the thing that they got when they’re just connecting when they’re out there. When he’s playing, we know we’re going to have to stop him.”

Meanwhile, Hayward says that he doesn’t know what he expects to feel in facing his former team, but is excited to cross paths with Tramon Williams, the Packers’ 13-year-veteran corner who took Hayward under his wing.

“That’s one of the guys I learned how to play this game (from),” Hayward said. “I have a lot of respect for him. I learned how to study film (and) I learned how to be a pro just watching him, so he’s been a big part of where I’m at now. Tramon’s my guy.”

The 30-year-old Hayward, who recorded his second interception of the season against the Bears Sunday, is now in his fourth season with the Chargers, and says that he’ll say a quick “what’s up” to his friends and former teammates before the game, but as soon as the whistle blows, it’s time to push friendships aside.

Packers Players and Matchups to Watch

Davante Adams to Play Sunday?

A notoriously great route runner, Adams had 180 yards receiving against the Eagles in Week 4, but has not played since then because of a toe injury.

While his status for Sunday remains up in the air, Adams practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday – the first time he’s taken to the practice field since Week 4.

According to Adams, he’s “making progress every day” and will need to get the final clearance from doctors in order to play on Sunday. However, if he does take the field in Carson, the wide receiver doesn’t expect rust to be a factor.

“If I’m on the field, I’m gonna be me,” Adams said.

LaFleur also has faith in his wide receiver, as Adams’ work ethic off the field causes the Packers’ head coach not to worry about whether it will be difficult to reintegrate the two-time Pro Bowler back into his offense.

“I think Davante’s extremely intelligent, (and) I think he’s been engaged in all of our meetings,” LaFleur said. “He absorbs everything. To be honest, it’s like having another coach out there, but I’m certain there’s gonna be some adjustment in knocking off that rust I’m assuming, but he’s a pro, and we have a lot of confidence in him.”

Aaron Jones Leads the NFL in TDs

After a breakout season last year in which the running back averaged 5.5 yards per rushing attempt and 60.7 yards per game, Jones has become one of the most elite scorers in the NFL in 2019.

“He’s having a breakout year,” head coach Anthony Lynn said. “His versatility is similar to Austin (Ekeler’s). He can do things in the backfield, you can use him as a wide receiver, and we’re going to have to do the best we can to slow him down.”

Lynn isn’t exaggerating by saying that Jones is breaking out. The former fifth-round pick out of the University of Texas, El Paso had 226 total yards, including 159 yards receiving and two touchdown catches in the Packers’ most recent victory over the Chiefs.

When asked if he was tired after amassing 226 yards, Jones said “I don’t get tired.”

Jones’ energy and offensive output in 2019 is unquestionable, as the running back has littered the stats sheet all year. From compiling 182 total yards and four rushing touchdowns against the Cowboys, to rushing for 116 yards against the Vikings, Jones will provide a big test for the Chargers defense.

“We’ve played against other backs that are versatile just like him, so we’ve done some things to take that back away,” Lynn said. “But this is a guy that is gonna show up at some point. He’s a playmaker, we just have to figure out a way to slow him down.”

Preventing Big Plays from Marquez Valdes-Scantling

The wide receiver is proving this season that he has the propensity to make the big play when called upon. The 2018 fifth-round pick out of the University of South Florida has four 40-plus yard receiving plays, including a 74-yard TD catch.

“Marquez does a great job,” LaFleur said. “He can really run. And he’s made some big plays for us.”

The Chargers speak a lot about limiting explosive plays from their opposition, and Valdes-Scantling will be one to watch in this regard as he leads the Packers with seven 20-plus yard receiving plays.

Packers Defense

Inside linebacker Blake Martinez and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith have been big reasons as to why the Packers have eclipsed seven wins in their first eight games.

For instance, Martinez leads the NFL in total tackles with 83 and solo tackles with 52.

“I’ve been watching (Martinez) on film,” running back Austin Ekeler said. “The way he reads wide zones and things like that, he’s a pretty smart player. He understands the schemes and he’s going to try and bait you one way so he can come back and make the tackle. It’s the cat and mouse game again. Same thing, different week.”

Smith has also been consistently putting pressure on opposing offenses with eight sacks and eight tackles for loss so far this season.

Additionally, fellow LB Preston Smith is tied for seventh in the NFL with seven sacks, heralding the two edge rushers as one of the most lethal combinations in the league.

“They’re a solid defense,” running back Austin Ekeler said. “Their two edge rushers are considered the best in the league right now, (but) I’d argue that we have two of the best edge rushers (in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram).”

Despite some impressive individual statistics, the Packers have struggled at times to keep their opponents off the scoreboard.

Rodgers admitted that the Packers defense hasn’t always been clicking at the same time as the offense, as the defense surrendered 267 passing yards and two touchdowns to Chiefs backup quarterback Matt Moore despite standout offensive performances from Rodgers and Jones.

“It’s been complementary football,” Rodgers said. “When (the defense) has needed us to close the game out or score and take the lead again we’ve done it, and when we’ve needed a stop, they’ve gotten big stops for us.”

The Packers defense has allowed the eighth-most total yards in the NFL this season. However, Rodgers believes that it’s only a matter of time before the offense and defense start performing simultaneously, something Rodgers says, “At some point, we’re going to need to.”

Broadcast Information

  • Sunday, Nov. 3, at 1:25 p.m. PT
  • ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park
  • TV: CBS - Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
  • Radio (English): KFI-AM 640 - Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)
  • Radio (Spanish): KFWB-AM 980 - Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)
  • APP: Chargers Mobile (iOS), Yahoo Sports (Android)

For more information on how to watch the game including the mobile app and live streaming, click here.

All-Time Series

The Packers hold a 10-1 regular season advantage and are winners of the last seven contests. The Chargers are 0-6 against the Packers at home. The last time the two teams met was on Oct. 18, 2015, in Green Bay when the Packers won 27-20. The last home game for the Bolts was a 45-38 loss on Nov. 6, 2011.

Packers' Last Time Out

The Packers have rattled off four-straight wins, downing the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-24, last Sunday. Aaron Rodgers tossed three touchdowns and threw for over 300 yards while Aaron Jones totaled 226 yards from scrimmage and two scores. Rodgers is second in the NFL with 2,324 yards passing and 16 touchdowns.

Injuries

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