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Scouting Report: Chargers at Falcons

The San Diego Chargers look to make it two in a row when they pay a rare visit to Atlanta to take on the Falcons.  Kickoff is set for 1:05pm PT

A Look Back At Last Week

Playing in their lone scheduled primetime game of the season, the Bolts made a statement with a 21-13 win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos.  Philip Rivers passed Dan Fouts for the most career passing yards in Chargers history while Hunter Henry found the end zone for the third straight game.  The tight end wasn’t the only rookie who made his presence felt as Jatavis Brown had a game-high 14 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble while Joey Bosa and Drew Kaser also had strong games.

What to Watch For…

On Offense for the Chargers

San Diego has boasted one of the most potent offenses in the NFL over the first six weeks, and they will have to be at their best in a game when every point will matter.  The Chargers and Falcons are two of the highest scoring teams, as the 21 points scored last week in the win over Denver were actually the fewest the Bolts have posted all year.  Philip Rivers has been lights out, completing 135 of 201 passes (67.2%) for 1,647 yards, 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions for a 105.9 passer rating.  His top target has been Travis Benjamin, who has 31 catches for 411 yards and two touchdowns.  Seven players have been on the receiving end of a touchdown from number 17, including Hunter Henry’s with team-high three TDs. Melvin Gordon has 97 more carries than the next closest running back as he’s carried the ball 116 times for 393 yards and six touchdowns, which is tied for the second most in the NFL.

On Offense for the Falcons

The high-flying Falcons are led by Matt Ryan, who has completed 143 of 210 attempts for 2,075 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions for 117.9 passer rating.  Ryan ranks first in the NFL in passing yards and QB rating, and second in touchdowns. His top target is arguably the top wideout in the game today as Julio Jones is off to another record breaking season.  Jones leads the NFL with 656 yards and has caught 31 passes and four touchdowns.  He is averaging 109.3 yards per game.  On the ground, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman provide a potent one-two punch.  Freeman is the workhorse, carrying the ball 90 times for 450 yards and two touchdowns while Coleman is one of the game’s best receiving backs, catching 18 passes for 320 yards.  Coleman also has four rushing touchdowns.

On Defense for the Chargers

Joey Bosa has been a difference maker since making his debut against the Oakland Raiders, totaling nine pressures, four QB hits, three tackles for loss and two sacks over the last two weeks.  His nine pressures are six shy of team leader Melvin Ingram, and the outside linebacker is tied with Jatavis Brown for a team-high 3.0 sacks. Brown also leads the Chargers with 41 tackles while Casey Hayward has a team-high three interceptions.

On Defense for the Falcons

Second year edge rusher Vic Beasley leads Atlanta with 4.5 sacks, followed closely by former Charger Dwight Freeney.  Safety Kemal Ishmael has a team-high 48 tackles while CB Robert Alford has two of the Falcons’ five interceptions.

Series History

The Chargers are 1-8 all-time against the Falcons with their lone win a 10-7 victory in Atlanta in 1988.  The Falcons have won six straight, most recently a 27-3 decision at Qualcomm Stadium in 2012.  

By the Numbers

The Chargers rank 15th in total offense (355.2 yards per game), 12th in passing (263.3 ypg), 22nd in rushing (91.8 ypg) and third in points (28.8). The Falcons rank first in total offense (441.5 ypg), second in passing (329.5 ypg), ninth in rushing (112.0 ypg) and first in points (33.2)

Defensively, the Bolts rank 18th in total defense (363.2 ypg), 24th in passing (279.7 ypg), fifth in rushing (83.5 ypg) and 23rd in points allowed (25.8).  Atlanta ranks 24th in total defense (379.5 ypg), 26th in passing (285.3 ypg), 11th in rushing (94.2 ypg) and 26th in points allowed (27.7).

What to Watch for vs. Atlanta

With a touchdown on Sunday Hunter Henry would become the first Chargers rookie since 1960 (Paul Lowe and Don Norton) with a touchdown in four straight games.

Antonio Gates will tie Mike Scifres and Doug Wilkerson for the fourth-most games played in Chargers history (195).

Milestones on the Horizon

Philip Rivers is seven TDs shy of tying John Elway (300) for eighth all-time in NFL history.

Antonio Gates is five TDs shy of tying Tony Gonzalez (111) for the most all-time by a tight end in NFL history.

Noteworthy vs. the Falcons

In 2012, Antonio Gates caught his 600th career pass in a game against Atlanta.

Playing for Philadelphia in 2010, King Dunlap made his first NFL start at left tackle against the Falcons.

As a member of the Indianapolis Colts last season, Dwight Lowery intercepted a pass in the end zone against Atlanta.

With Kansas City in 2012, Dexter McCluster had a season-high 82 yards receiving in the Chiefs’ season opener vs. the Falcons.

Connections

Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is a native of Augusta, Georgia. He played quarterback and tight end at Georgia Tech from 1980-84. In 1985, the Falcons drafted him in the 12th round and he played nine seasons in the NFL, including four with the Falcons (1985-88).

Safety Dwight Lowery played for the Falcons in 2014, appearing in all 16 games with 15 starts as he collected 85 tackles, a sack and two interceptions.

Running Backs Coach Ollie Wilson participated in the NFL’s Minority Coaching Internship Program with the Falcons and he began his coaching career as the Falcons’ running backs coach from 1991-96 and again from 2002-07.

Defensive Line Coach Giff Smith is a native of Mableton, Georgia and he was a three-time All-America defensive end at Georgia Southern. Smith coached the defensive line at Georgia Tech from 2004-09. He also spent two seasons (1994-95) as a graduate assistant at Georgia and three seasons (1996-98) as the wide receivers and secondary coach at Georgia Southern. In 2000, Smith was inducted into Georgia Southern’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Safety Casey Hayward is a native of Perry, Georgia.

Outside linebacker Jerry Attaochu played collegiately at Georgia Tech.

Falcons Assistant Offensive Line Coach Keith Carter coached the offensive line at the University of San Diego from 2009-11.  

Fullback Patrick DiMarco originally signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent from South Carolina in 2011.

Defensive end Dwight Freeney played for the Chargers from 2013-14.

Tight end Levine Toilolo is from the San Diego suburb of La Mesa. He prepped at Helix High School.

Know Your Opponent

Broadcast Information

FOX SPORTS (FOX 5, San Diego) – Sam Rosen (play-by-play), Daryl Johnson (analyst) and Laura Okmin (reporter)

Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) and AM 570 KLAC (Los Angeles & Orange County) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Nick Hardwick (analyst)

Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego)– Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Tony Alvarez (analyst)

All Chargers radio broadcasts are now being streamed live on the team’s official website, www.chargers.com. XTRA Sports 1360 Broadcasts with Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Nick Hardwick (analyst) will begin two hours before kickoff and continue for 90 minutes of postgame coverage.

Download the Chargers Official Mobile App for live game coverage, stats, and game day news.

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