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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Buccaneers

The San Diego Chargers return home to host a red hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.  Kickoff from Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday is set for 1:25pm PT.

A Look Back At Last Week

The Bolts handed the AFC South leading Houston Texans their first loss at home this year with a 21-13 win.  Dontrelle Inman sparked the offense, catching all six passes thrown his way for 119 yards and a 52-yard touchdown.  Tyrell Williams and Hunter Henry also found pay dirt to give Philip Rivers three passing TDs on the day.  Defensively, the Chargers smothered the Texans, forcing them into four turnovers.  Dwight Lowery forced a fumble and had an interception while Casey Hayward and Dexter McCoil also added a pair of picks.

What to Watch For…

On Offense for the Chargers

Philip Rivers looks to stretch his streak of double digit touchdown passes to five when the Bolts host the Bucs.  Number 17 has been one of the top quarterbacks all year long, completing 251 of 399 attempts for 3,128 yards and 23 touchdowns for a 93.9 QB rating.  He needs 11 more touchdowns over the final five games to tie his career high in a single season (2008). Rivers’ top target has been Tyrell Williams as the wideout leads San Diego in catches (51) and yards (790).  Williams is also tied with Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry for the team lead with five touchdown receptions. Finally, Melvin Gordon has been instrumental in San Diego’s success, carrying the ball 234 times for 908 yards (3.9 ypg) and nine TDs on the ground plus 37 catches for 365 yards and two touchdowns.

On Offense for the Buccaneers

The Jameis Winston-Mike Evans combination has emerged as one of the most potent QB-WR pairings in the NFL this season.  Winston’s 22 touchdown passes thus far has matched his total from his rookie campaign a year ago, and ranks fourth in team history.  He is five away from tying Josh Freeman for most ever by a Tampa Bay QB in a single season.  Just shy of half of his TD passes have gone to Evans, who has 10 on the year.  Evans is two from tying his own franchise mark for 12 established in 2012.  Overall, Winston has completed 249 of 406 passes (61.3%) for 22 touchdowns and 11 picks for an 89.7 passer rating while Evans has 73 receptions for 1,020 yards and his 10 TDs. Meanwhile, Adam Humphries has been a solid second option for Winston since stepping in for the injured Vincent Jackson, catching 40 passes for 448 yards and one TD.  TE Cameron Brate has also made his presence felt, ranking second on the team with 41 receptions and five touchdowns.  On the ground, Doug Martin returned a couple weeks ago from a nagging hamstring injury and appears to be fully recovered.  He’s carried the rock 88 times for 268 yards while Jacquizz Rodgers also has 88 carries for 393 yards and Peyton Barber 48 totes for 198 yards; each running back has found the end zone once this year.

On Defense for the Chargers

San Diego is the only team to record a turnover in all 12 games this season. They rank second overall with 23 takeaways and lead the league with 14 interceptions.  Casey Hayward has been the biggest thief for the Bolts as he leads the entire NFL with six INTs. Jatavis Brown continues to pace the Chargers in tackles with 52 despite missing the past three games with a knee injury.  Melvin Ingram has a team-high six sacks while Joey Bosa leads the way with 10 tackles for loss.

On Defense for the Buccaneers

Tampa Bay’s defense is one of the hottest in the NFL right now and fresh off a game in which they limited the dynamic Seattle Seahawks to just five points, two of which came via a safety. Rookie defensive end Noah Spence has been a terror rushing the passer, recording 5.5 sacks.  His total trails only Gerald McCoy on the Bucs as the defensive tackle has six on the season.  Meanwhile, Kwon Alexander has a team-high 90 tackles and Lavonte David a team-high four forced fumbles.

Series History

The Chargers lead the all-time series 8-2, but haven’t faced the Bucs at home since a 31-24 win in 2004.  Their only loss to Tampa Bay in San Diego came in 1996 when they fell 25-17.  

By the Numbers

The Chargers rank eighth in total offense (371.2 yards per game), fifth in passing (271.5 ypg), 20th in rushing (99.7 ypg) and fourth in points (28.5). The Buccaneers rank 13th total offense (363.5 ypg), 13th in passing (256.4 ypg), 16th in rushing (107.1 ypg) and 17th in points (22.6)

Defensively, the Bolts rank 19th in total defense (361.1 ypg), 26th in passing (271.3 ypg), sixth in rushing (89.8 ypg) and 26th in points allowed (26.5).  Tampa Bay ranks 24th in total defense (369.3 ypg), 17th in passing (253.5 ypg), 22nd in rushing (115.8 ypg) and 18th in points allowed (24.0).

Milestones on the Horizon

Antonio Gates is expected to play his 200th career game for the Chargers on Sunday. When he does, he’ll tie Junior Seau and Russ Washington for the most games played by a full-time position player in franchise history.  The only player to appear in more games is former long snapper David Binn (256).

Gates has 109 career touchdown catches, second all-time among tight ends. He needs two to tie Tony Gonzalez (111) for most all-time at the position.

Matt Slauson is expected to play in his 100th career game.

Philip Rivers comes into Sunday’s game with 44,575 career passing yards, which ranks 13th all-time. He needs 37 yards to pass Drew Bledsoe (44,611) to become 12th all-time.

Rivers next 300-yard passing game will be the 51st of his career, which would tie Dan Fouts’ franchise record.

Melvin Gordon is 92 yards shy of the 20th 1,000 yard rushing season in Chargers history, and the first since Ryan Mathews in 2013 (1,255).

Gordon leads the Chargers with nine rushing touchdowns and he needs one more to record the 16th season with 10 or more rushing touchdowns in franchise history and the first of his career. Mike Tolbert (2010) was the last to do so.

Should Gordon top 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, he’d become just the 11th player in franchise history and first since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2008 to do both in a single season.

Casey Hayward has tied his career high and he leads the NFL with six interceptions. With one more, he’ll set a new career high. His six are the most by a Chargers defender since 2011 (seven). The franchise season record (10) was set by Antonio Cromartie in 2007. Hayward has a pick in three of the Chargers’ last four games.

Josh Lambo has hit 47 career field goals, seventh in franchise history. Lambo needs three more to reach 50 and move into a tie for sixth on the franchise’s all-time list with George Blair (1961-64).

Noteworthy vs. the Buccaneers

On Sept. 19, 1976, the Chargers held Tampa Bay to 125 yards of total offense, the eighth-best defensive performance in franchise history. The Chargers limited Tampa Bay to minus four yards rushing and 129 yards passing.

In 2012, Antonio Gates caught the 80th touchdown pass of his career at Tampa Bay. In that same game, Philip Rivers passed for a career-high 148 yards in the first quarter and he ended the first half 16 of 18 for 218 yards with three touchdowns for a 156.7 rating.

Rivers has faced Tampa Bay twice and his 123.7 passer rating is the highest of his career versus any single opponent. In those two games, Rivers has completed 50 of 68 (73.5 percent) for 624 yards with seven touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Playing for Atlanta in 2015, Dwight Lowery had a late fourth-quarter interception off Jameis Winston in a 25-12 win.

Connections

Chargers Strength and Conditioning Coach Kent Johnston began his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1987 as their strength and conditioning coach.

Tight Ends Coach John McNulty worked as an assistant coach in Tampa Bay in 2013. In Tampa Bay, McNulty was the Buccaneers’ quarterbacks coach who saw Mike Glennon earn all-rookie honors after recording the season’s highest passer rating among rookies while setting team rookie records for passing yards and touchdowns.

Area Scout Justin Sheridan joined the Chargers in 2014 after spending eight seasons in Tampa Bay as both a college and pro scout. He joined the Buccaneers’ staff in 2006 as a pro personnel assistant before being promoted to pro scout in 2008.

Buccaneers’ Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith was a graduate assistant at San Diego State in 1982 and the school’s linebackers coach from 1983-85.

Secondary Coach John Hoke coached at SDSU from 1987-88 as defensive backs and special teams coach.

Assistant Special Teams Coach Carlos Polk is a former special teams captain of the Chargers who played linebacker and special teams from 2001-07 and later spent three years (2010-12) as a special teams assistant coach.

Running Backs Coach Tim Spencer played running back for the Chargers from 1985-90.

Director of College Scouting Mike Biehl spent 13 seasons working in the Chargers’ scouting department (2001-13)

Know Your Opponent

Get a closer look at who the Bolts face this Sunday at the Q for Week 13.

Broadcast Information

FOX SPORTS (Fox 5 in San Diego) – Sam Rosen (play-by-play), David Diehl (analyst) and Holly Sonders (reporter)

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

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.

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