By Jeremy Gonzalez, Sports Editor
Chargers vs Titans. 1:05 p.m. Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn. CBS.
Chargers record: 2-4. Los Angeles lost at home on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17. Their slow start and sloppy turnovers gave the Steelers a 24-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter and their comeback came up short.
Titans record: 2-4. Tennessee was shut out on the road last week against the Denver Broncos 16-0. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was benched during the game to make way for backup Ryan Tannehill, but neither quarterback sparked the offense to score any points.
Coming into Week 7, the Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans are sitting in similar situations. Both teams started the season strong and had high expectations, only to find themselves having lost two straight games and four of their past five.
Both teams sit with a 2-4 record and are desperate to stop their respective slumps.
In The Pocket
One major difference between the Chargers and Titans comes at the quarterback position.
The Chargers have Phillip Rivers in his 16th season climbing the NFL’s career passing charts, while the Titans have made a change by benching their 2015 first round selection Marcus Mariota in favor of backup Ryan Tannehill to try and jump-start an offense that has scored one touchdown over the past 10 quarters.
Tannehill, a starter for seven seasons in Miami, now has the chance to prove he can start for more than just one week. He played 30 snaps in last week’s matchup against Denver and was 13 of 16 for 144 yards with an interception. The Titans were shutout 16-0 in their matchup against the Broncos. His challenge now is helping an offense that averages just 16.3 points per game.
Rivers continued his up and down season last week when he threw two interceptions against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They failed to score in the first half again last week. The last time the Chargers failed to score in the first half in consecutive games was 2007. Rivers has already committed eight turnovers after committing 13 all of last season.
Some things to know about the Chargers and Titans:
Melvin Gordon is still trying to find his rhythm in the Chargers backfield. He was held to just 18 rushing yards against the Steelers. Gordon missed more than two months due to a contract dispute. The Chargers rushing attack has not eclipsed 100+ yards of rushing in four straight games. The rush offense is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry (tied for 23rd in the league).
The Chargers failed to sack Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges last week and only have 12 sacks on the season (tied for 21st in the league). Defensive end Joey Bosa only has three sacks on the season while his teammate Melvin Ingram only has one sack. This matchup could be a breakout game for the Chargers defensive line as Tennessee offensive line has allowed the most sacks this season.
This matchup could end up being a defensive showdown as the Chargers have the NFL’s No. 10 scoring defense, allowing 19.7 points per game, while the Titans (No. 5) are giving up just 15.3 points per game.
Ball security has become an issue for the Chargers. They have had at least one turnover in five of their six games this season. Los Angeles has turned the ball over three times in consecutive games and not coincidentally lost both those contests. Los Angeles is tied for the league lead with the Cleveland Browns in red zone turnovers (four).
Opening: TEN -1.0, 38.0 total.
Saturday night: TEN -2.5, 42.0 total.
The Lightning Rod pick: The last three games I’ve picked the Chargers and all three have ended with me being wrong and the Chargers losing those games. A stiff Titans defense will keep them in the game and ultimately lead them to victory over Los Angeles. The lack of effectiveness on the ground will carry over into this game for the Chargers as the team will continue to struggle getting the run game going.
Titans 20, Chargers 17.