Chargers vs. Packers: Saturday Scoop

The San Diego Chargers are heading to Green Bay as the Packers' next victim, I mean opponent.  The two teams will square off at 3:25pm CDT on Sunday, with this game being televised to most of the United States.  The Packers are 5-0 and looking to stay unbeaten heading into their week off following.  The Chargers are coming off of a tough home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Monday night that ended with a touchdown run as time expired.  That also left San Diego with a short week to prepare for the Packers.  The Chargers are 0-2 on the road so far this season and hold just a 1-3 record at Lambeau Field.  Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has made one appearance in Green Bay, back in 2007.  The last meeting between the two teams was in 2011.  The Packers were also unbeaten at the time and won in a high-scoring game.

Green Bay has been able to maintain their high level of play each week and continue to be extremely tough to beat at home.  Many are picking the Packers in this game and Green Bay is a 10-point favorite.  One of the reasons for such optimism is the tendency of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to bounce back and play well after having an off week prior.  One key to Rodgers doing just that is the make up of the offense this week.  Receiver Davante Adams was limited in practice this week and is officially listed as questionable with his ankle injury.  The Packers have continued winning despite the loss of Adams, who has missed most of the last three games.  Still, it is evident that the passing game is missing a key piece over that stretch.  James Jones has filled in admirably, but doesn't bring the same element as Adams.  Many have clamored for more of a deep threat to replace what was lost when Jordy Nelson was injured, but the Packers are still scoring points in other ways.  Last week, they put up 24 points on a tough Rams defense despite the fact that the run game was virtually absent and Rodgers turned the ball over three times.  With results like that, it's hard to complain that the Packers don't have all of the pieces they need.

The Chargers have a decent defense but hardly resemble the pass rush the Packers saw against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Rams.  Guard T.J. Lang appears set to play on Sunday despite missing the second half of the game against the Rams with a knee injury.  Tackle Bryan Bulaga reported no issues with his knee after returning last week.  This puts the true starting five offensive linemen on the field again and that should give Rodgers and the run game some room to work with.  The Packers average 126 rushing yards per game and let's not forget that a chunk of those yards often comes from Rodgers.  His ability to move and extend plays will become an issue for the Chargers secondary and open up some opportunities in the passing game.  

San Diego running back Melvin Gordon returns to Wisconsin, where he paved his way to success with the Badgers.  Gordon was the second running back taken in this past draft and is averaging just over 50 yards per game.  He has yet to find the end zone this season so this could become another situation where the Packers become the answer to the trivia question of who Gordon scored his first touchdown against.  Gordon still has the ability to break long runs and the Packers defense took a step backwards in allowing 159 yards to Rams running back Todd Gurley last week.  Will the Packers defense return to the form that helped them contain Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles and Carlos Hyde?  Chances are better than not that they do. 

Speaking of the Packers defense, they are second in sacks with 20 on the season.  They should find ways to keep pressure on Rivers most of the day and force a mistake or two.  The Packers had four interceptions of Nick Foles last week after Foles had thrown only two prior to that game.  Rivers has five this season.  On defense, the Packers continue to get good production up front.  They will likely be without B.J. Raji this week, but were still able to get a good push up front against the Rams with Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Mike Pennel and Letroy Guion.  Anytime a team sees that, they're better able to defend against the pass.  Clay Matthews has had a resurgent season, spending quite a bit of his time in the middle.  He's been able to generate pressure and rack up hit after hit on the quarterback.  The return of Joe Thomas in the nickel and dime packages has allowed Matthews to move outside to his natural position, giving the Packers defense a boost.  One player I'd like to see more from is Julius Peppers.  He's been quiet over the last four games and the Packers will need more from him as the season wears on.  With Nick Perry out for at least the next few games, Peppers, Mike Neal and Jayrone Elliott will be called upon to make an impact like Perry had been doing before suffering his shoulder injury.  

In the Green Bay secondary, they are getting stellar play from their young backs.  Rookie corners Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins have played very well.  Rollins had two interceptions last week, one of which he returned for a touchdown.  Randall has been consistent in his coverage and overall, has defended the deep pass well.  Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix redeemed himself after a rough first half against St. Louis with a big interception in the end zone to keep the Rams from scoring and allow the Packers to take valuable time off the clock.  Micah Hyde has also played well in relief of Morgan Burnett, who has missed all but one game with a calf injury.  Burnett was limited in practice this week and is listed as questionable.  If he can't play this week, I would expect to see him back after the bye.  The Chargers has weapons in the passing game that the Packers will have their hands full with.  Tight end Antonio Gates is the typical big-bodied receiver that has given the Packers fits in containing in the past.  Gates missed the first four games this season while serving a suspension for having tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.  Receivers Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson are both solid options for Rivers in the passing game.  Sam Shields and Casey Hayward will have their hands full with the pair.  Pressure on Rivers is the key to keeping the San Diego offense at bay.

On special teams, the Chargers are allowing an average of 31 yards on kick returns.  Ty Montgomery has provided a spark in the Packers return game and may get a chance to break a longer run this week.  The Packers offense really struggles when backed up so field position becomes important.  This is an area where the Packers can take advantage.  

There are no good games to lose and while the Packers may drop a few before season's end, this one shouldn't be one of them.  It's a home game against a team on a short week and one that the Packers are better than in most every area.  Green Bay has to hope they can come out of this game with no new injuries and get a god chance to get most of their injured guys back after the bye week.

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Lphill's picture

October 17, 2015 at 05:44 pm

With Perry out I am anticipating Elliot having a breakout day.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 17, 2015 at 08:12 pm

He'll have plenty of chances that's for sure. Hope your correct and he gets home for a couple sack w/ one being a strip sack.

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