The San Diego Chargers head cross country for their longest road trip of the season when they visit the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. Kickoff from Bank of America Stadium is set for 10:00am PT.
A Look Back At Last Week
The Bolts suffered another tough loss in the final minutes as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied for a 28-21 victory at Qualcomm Stadium. Melvin Gordon powered San Diego's offense, totaling 138 yards on 21 touches while finding the end zone for the 12th time this season. On defense, Casey Hayward had his NFL-leading seventh interception of the season, setting a career-high in the process.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
Melvin Gordon is on the verge of his first 1,000-yard season as he is only eight yards shy of the milestone. Overall, the running back has totaled 1,411 yards, marking only the 17th time in Chargers history a player has topped 1,400 in a season. Meanwhile, Philip Rivers is in the midst of another strong season, completing 266 of 425 passes (62.6%) for 3,353 yards and 25 TDs for a 93.0 passer rating. His top target has been Tyrell Williams, who leads the team in catches (53), receiving yards (837) and TDs (six).
On Offense for the Panthers
Defending NFL MVP Cam Newton sparks the Panthers offense as he has accounted for 19 total touchdowns on the year. He has scored 179 in his first six seasons, which is the second most by a QB in that span in league history trailing only Dan Marino. His 48 rushing touchdowns are the most among active players since entering the NFL in 2011. This year, Newton has completed 203 of 371 attempts (54.7%) for 2,614 yards and 14 touchdowns for an 80.6 passer rating along with 68 rushes for 286 yards and five TDs. His top weapon is tight end Greg Olsen, who has surpassed 800 receiving yards on the year for the fifth straight season. On the ground, Jonathan Stewart has been Carolina's workhorse, carrying the rock 138 times for 511 yards and seven TDs.
On Defense for the Chargers
Casey Hayward has established himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. Not only does he lead the league with seven interceptions, but he is fresh off a game in which he limited one of the top wideouts in the league, Mike Evans, to minimal gains. Joey Bosa continues to make a case for Rookie of the Year honors, racking up 25 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 29 pressures and seven QB hits in eight games. Denzel Perryman leads San Diego with 61 total tackles, followed closely by Korey Toomer with 59 and Jatavis Brown with 52.
On Defense for the Panthers
Carolina's stout defense is led by Luke Kuechly, who has 102 tackles on the season. However, he's been sidelined since Week 11 with a concussion and it remains unknown if he will be cleared to play vs. the Bolts. Veteran linebacker Thomas Davis continues to make his presence felt, leading the team in interceptions (three) and is second in tackles (79). Mario Addison leads the pass rush with 6.5 sacks, followed by Star Lotulelei and Charles Johnson with four apiece.
The Chargers and Panthers have only met five times over the years, with Carolina getting the better of the Bolts on four occasions. San Diego's lone victory came in a 17-6 win on the road in 2004.
By the Numbers
The Chargers rank 10th in total offense (367.8 yards per game), sixth in passing (266.4 ypg), 21st in rushing (101.3 ypg) and fourth in points (27.8). The Panthers rank 18th in total offense (346.0 ypg), 20th in passing (238.2 ypg), 13th in rushing (107.8 ypg) and 14th in points (23.6)
Defensively, the Bolts rank 19th in total defense (360.1 ypg), 27th in passing (271.0 ypg), third in rushing (89.1 ypg) and 27th in points allowed (26.6). Carolina ranks 23rd in total defense (366.0 ypg), 30th in passing (276.8 ypg), eighth in rushing (92.8 ypg) and 28th in points allowed (26.8).
Milestones on the Horizon
Antonio Gates is two touchdowns shy of tying Tony Gonzalez (111) for most by a tight end in NFL history.
Gates will play in his 201st career game with the Chargers, setting a new franchise record by a full time player.
Philip Rivers is expected to play in his 174th straight game, tying Mike Scifres for third longest in team history.
Rivers has completed 13 passes of 40 yards or longer, which is second in the NFL to Atlanta's Matt Ryan (15). One more will tie Rivers' career high of 14 set in 2010.
Rivers next 300-yard passing game will be his 51st, tying Dan Fouts' franchise record.
Melvin Gordon is eight yards shy of recording his first career 1,000 yard season. It would be the 20th time a Charger has churned out 1,000 yards on the ground in a season. He will also become only the 11th player in franchise history and first since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2008 to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 TDs.
Gordon has 12 combined TDs on the year, and with three more, would mark the ninth time a Charger has 15 or more in a season. LT did it six times, while Chuck Muncie and Lance Alworth did it once.
Gordon has 1,411 total yards from scrimmage. With 89 more, he would record only the 15th 1,500 yard season in team history. He is on pace for 1,811 yards from scrimmage, which would be the fifth most by a Charger in a single season.
Tyrell Williams is 163 yards away from a 1,000 yard season. It would mark the 36th time a Charger has eclipsed the 1,000 yard plateau.
Williams is looking to catch a TD pass in his fifth straight game. Should he do so, he would become the first wide receiver since John Jefferson in 1980 to accomplish that feat as he caught six straight that season.
Williams has six TD catches on the year. Should he reach 10 as well as 1,000 yards through the air, it would mark only the 15th time a Charger has achieved both in a single year, and the first since Gates in 2005.
Casey Hayward leads the NFL with seven interceptions, which is already a career high. Three more would tie Antonio Cromartie (10) for most by a Charger in a season, set in 2007.
Josh Lambo is three field goals shy of 50, which would tie George Blair for sixth most in franchise history.
Noteworthy vs. the Panthers
Antonio Gates tied Lance Alworth's franchise record of 81 career touchdown passes in 2012.
King Dunlap made his NFL debut while with the Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina in 2009.
Philip Rivers has completed 33 of 50 passes (66.0%) for 338 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 111.9 passer rating in two career meetings.
Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers played collegiately at North Carolina State. A ﬁve-time MVP in bowl games, Rivers is still the Wolfpack's all-time leader for career passing yards, attempts, completions, touchdowns, completion percentage, as well as 300 and 400-yard games.
Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram was born in Hamlet, North Carolina, and played at the University of South Carolina.
General Manager Tom Telesco was a scouting assistant in Carolina from 1995-96 and an area scout in 1997.
Head Coach Mike McCoy began coaching in 2000, joining Carolina as an offensive assistant. He was elevated to quarterbacks coach after the team's position coach stepped down four weeks later. McCoy would go on to spend nine seasons in Carolina, serving as wide receivers coach (2001), quarterbacks coach (2002-08) and passing game coordinator (2007-08). Carolina made three playoff appearances, won two division titles, went to two NFC Championship Games and played in Super Bowl XXXVIII (2003) during McCoy's tenure.
Offensive Line Coach Jeff Davidson was Carolina's offensive coordinator from 2007-10.
Senior Offensive Assistant Fred Graves coached wide receivers in Carolina from 2011-12.
Defensive Backs Coach Ron Milus was Carolina's secondary coach from 2009-10.
Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Chris Harris played for Carolina from 2007-09.
Linebackers Coach Bob Babich coached at East Carolina from 1992-93.
Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera worked with the Chargers from 2007-10. He coached inside linebackers before taking over as the team's defensive coordinator midway through the 2008 season.
Assistant Head Coach and Secondary Coach Steve Wilks oversaw the Chargers' secondary from 2009-11. He added the title of assistant head coach in 2011.
Director of Player Personnel Don Gregory worked as an area scout with the Chargers from 1995-99.
College Scout Jeff Beathard, son of former Chargers General Manager Bobby Beathard, worked in the Chargers' scouting department from 1994-02.
Tackle Mike Remmers spent time with the Chargers in 2013.
Mike Tolbert was a running back for the Bolts from 2008-11.
Running back Fozzy Whittaker played for San Diego in 2013.
Know Your Opponent
Take a detailed look at who the Chargers will face on the road this Sunday.
FOX SPORTS (Fox 5 in San Diego) – Sam Rosen (play-by-play), Brady Quinn (analyst) and Jennifer Hale (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 –Pulsar 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.
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