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CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz and James Brown headlined this week’s episode of Chargers Weekly, while host Chris Hayre was also joined by The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala and Chargers radio analyst Daniel Jeremiah.
Nantz expects a close game between the Chargers and Broncos Sunday, highlighting the reputation of Denver’s head coach and how the team’s 0-4 record isn’t totally indicative of how they’ve played thus far this season.
“Vic Fangio, their head coach is someone I’ve known in this league for a long time,” Nantz said. “(He was a) well-respected defensive coordinator...They’ve been in every game (and) could’ve won all four of them.”
“Thank goodness if you’re a Chargers fan (that) you’ve got Philip Rivers as your quarterback,” Nantz said. “(Ekeler's) story is (also) amazing....He willed himself to be an NFL player and not just make a roster but to make a difference, and his production is not going to go away.”
Brown also marveled at Rivers’ career.
“How old is Mr. Rivers? “Old Man” Rivers just keeps it going,” Brown said. “Talk about a fiery and tenacious player...That’s a teammate that you can count on…(He has) sustained excellence, augmented with passion and being an inherent leader of that squad.”
According to Brown, Sunday will mark another competitive chapter in the historic Chargers-Broncos rivalry.
“We also understand the inherent rivalry between two excellent franchises with a good past,” Brown said. “We’re looking forward to (Sunday’s Broncos vs. Chargers) game as well.”
Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala expects an intense battle between AFC West rivals Sunday.
“The Broncos always get up for playing against Philip Rivers,” Jhabvala said. “He’s one guy that always comes up. They just really enjoy going against him. They like that he talks trash on the field. There’s a mutual respect there.”
Despite Denver’s 0-4 record, Daniel Jeremiah also believes the Broncos will come out ready to play.
“A lot’s going to be made of Bradley Chubb and him not playing, but Von Miller’s as good as it gets,” Jeremiah said. “I’m also going to keep my eye on a guy like Courtland Sutton on offense, who I think is really an emerging young star wide receiver… they’ve got some guys and they are competitive.”
On this week’s Playmakers podcast with Hayley Elwood, Lindsay Jones, who covers the NFL for The Athletic, stopped by to talk about players to watch this weekend, which included Keenan Allen.
“I mean, he’s just dominant,” Jones said. “He is very under the radar nationally, even though he does this year after year after year. When you talk to cornerbacks around the league, and you ask them, ‘Who is (one of) the toughest guys to defend consistently?’ They’ll almost always include Keenan Allen in that group.”
In addition to previewing Sunday’s game. Jones not only spoke about her career and unique responsibilities covering the league at The Athletic, but she also shared advice for aspiring sports journalists.
“The heart of everything to me is the reporting and writing skills, and those are the things you have to have if you want to be in any area of sports journalism,” Jones said. “It’s really about writing a lot, reading a lot, (and) listening to different types of storytelling.”
This week on Backstage: Chargers, kicker Michael Badgley and defensive end Isaac Rochell sat down with defensive tackle Justin Jones to talk about his time at NC State, getting drafted and his massive sneaker collection.
Also, Jones talked about how great it feels to be a Charger:
“Being drafted to the Chargers and being on this D-line, I feel like that was written. I could not be in a better situation.”
Jones attests that he never would have been in this position without hard work, dedication, and a mindset where he believes he’s “that dog”:
“A lot of people tell me, ‘Oh, I want to be where you’re at.’ And I tell them, ‘Bro, I’m not even where I want to be. You have to believe you’re that dog. If you don’t believe that, no one’s going to believe that.”
Additionally, the guys got on JJ for wearing number 27 in college...