6

November

Packers vs. Chargers: 5 Things to Watch

Fresh off their bye week, the Green Bay Packers (7-0) travel west to take on the reeling San Diego Chargers (4-3) in Week 9 NFL action.

The basics 

When: 3:15 CDT; Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011.

Where: Qualcomm Stadium; San Diego, CA.

TV: FOX; Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick with the call, Laura Okmin on the sidelines.

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee), Packers Radio Network, Westwood One, NFL Sunday Drive (Sirius Radio).

Series: Packers lead, 8-1-0 (Packers won last regular season game, 31-24, in Green Bay on Sept. 23, 2007).

Five things to watch

1. Banged up Bolts

If the Chargers are to knock the Packers off the NFL’s undefeated perch on Sunday, they’ll have to do it by taking a page from Green Bay’s 2010 book. San Diego is a hurting bunch leading into Week 9, and a quick scan through the Chargers injury report shows a frightening list of talented players who will either be out or playing hurt. Defensive end Luis Castillo (tibia) and guard Kris Dielman (concussion/seizure) have both been ruled out. Shaun Phillips, arguably the Chargers best defensive player, is doubtful with a foot injury and not expected to play. Key offensive playmakers Ryan Mathews (groin) and Malcolm Floyd (hips) are both questionable, along with former Packers linebacker Na’il Diggs, who is fighting a knee injury. Mike Tolbert (hamstring), Antonio Gates (foot), Vincent Jackson (hamstring) and Curtis Brinkley (concussion) are also playing and practicing with lingering injuries.

And don’t forget; there’s been a lot of talk around the league about the health status of quarterback Philip Rivers. Some have speculated that his fall from grace in 2011 is the result of something structurally wrong in his arm or shoulder. As bad as that list sounds, the Packers know a thing or two about rallying together despite a long injury list. They won the Super Bowl in 2010 with 15 players on IR. There shouldn’t be anything taken for granted by Green Bay because of a Chargers team that is limping into this contest.

2. Attacking the tackles

4

November

Know Your Packers Enemy: Previewing Packers-Chargers With John Gennaro of Bolts From the Blue

In this week’s installment of “Know Your Packers Enemy,” I talked with John Gennaro, the managing editor of Bolts From the Blue. It’s hands down the best Chargers blog I found in my search and John does a fantastic job ruling over it. You can follow John and the blog on Twitter (@BFTB_Chargers) as well.

Enough with the intros, let’s talk some Packers-Chargers.

ZACH KRUSE: First things first. What’s the vibe around San Diego right now? The Chargers still find themselves atop of the AFC West at 4-3, but is this a dejected fan base after the OT loss? What about Norv Turner? Are you as down on him as the head coach moving forward in San Diego as some of the other Chargers fans I’ve talked with?

JOHN GENNARO: Yes, yes, yes. Not just the loss to the Chiefs, but the loss against the Jets has also left a bad taste in the mouths of Chargers fans. With no wins over teams with winning records, and the Chargers constantly playing against themselves (due to turnovers and penalties) as much as they’re playing against an opposing NFL team, it’s hard to imagine this team going anywhere.

I’ve jumped off the bandwagon that typically supports Norv, although I’m not ready to fire him just yet, for one reason. Norv is here to make sure that the offense and Philip Rivers plays well. Those things are not happening.
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ZK: I’d like to hear your take on Philip Rivers. Obviously, the numbers in 2011 are far off what we’ve seen from him during his career. What’s the issue? Is there an injury he’s covering up? I obviously haven’t watched Rivers at length like you have, but the tape I’ve seen from this season suggests a more labored motion than usual that could be hiding a deeper structural issue, possibly in the shoulder. That’s just my take. What’s yours?

JG: Football Outsiders did a great job of running through the theories (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/2011/what-wrong-philip-rivers) as well as looking over the tape, and came to the same conclusion that everyone else has: We don’t know. It’s obvious that his footwork is messier than usual, but there’s no real reason why. He’s throwing off of his backfoot and falling away instead of stepping into his throws, but again this seems to be more by choice and panic than anything else. Outside of a possible personal problem (that I won’t speculate on), there’s no easy explanation as to why Rivers is playing so much worse than what we’ve come to expect from him.