October 24, 2020
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Story tips, concerns, questions?
Thunder Alley could be overshadowed by the thousands of Cheeseheads attending the matchup this week. Photo by Glenn Marshall.

By Jeremy Gonzalez, Sports Editor

Packers v. Chargers. 1:25 p.m. Dignity Health Sports Park. Carson, Calif. CBS. 

Packers record: 7-1. The Packers are coming off a road victory against the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs. Aaron Rodgers and the offense fired on all cylinders during their 31-24 win over the Chiefs. 

Chargers record: 3-5. The Chargers had a hint of luck come their way as Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro missed a 41-yard field as time expired and allowed the Chargers to hang on to their victory 17-16. 

In the Pocket

    Aaron Rodgers and Phillip Rivers are among the top quarterbacks in passing yards this season, but they find themselves going in different directions heading into Sunday’s Week 9 matchup. 

    Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) have dropped three of their last four while Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (7-1) are off to their best start since 2011. 

    Rodgers, who is second with 2,324 passing yards on the season, has flourished under head coach Matt LeFleur. In his first year as Packers head coach, he’s led the Packers to victories in seven of his first eight games. Rodgers has thrown for 16 touchdowns against just two interceptions all season while averaging a 106.7 passer rating, 

    Rivers, who is third in the league with 2,315 passing yards, is going through an offensive coaching change as the Chargers just fired their offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen. Rivers has thrown 12 touchdowns against seven interceptions on the season, giving him a 92.5 passer rating. 

Tale of Two Offenses

    The Chargers have been out of synch for most of the season. They’ve been limited in rushing yards, being held to under 40 yards in four straight games after starting the season averaging 5.2 yards per carry with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Since Melvin Gordon returned from his holdout, the Chargers rushing attack has diminished and been almost invisible in games. 

    Whisenhunt had been the offensive coordinator since 2016, and his firing came from left field but ultimately was the right decision. The Chargers have not scored more than 20 points in a game since Week 4 and have not rushed for more than 40 yards in their last four games. A change of scenery at offensive coordinator could provide a much needed spark for the Chargers. 

    One player who could benefit from that change is Gordon. He is averaging only 2.6 yards per carry with only one carry going over 10 yards in four games. In Whisenhunt’s final game as offensive coordinator, the Chargers only had 12 running plays. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has expressed that he wants to see more carries and consistency from his running backs. 

    The Packers enter this matchup as one of the most potent offenses in the league. Running back Aaron Jones has been a force on the offense, currently tied for second in rushing touchdowns with eight. Jones can also catch the ball out of the backfield, acting as another target for Rodgers to throw to. Jones had a career-high 159 receiving yards on seven receptions and scored two touchdowns in last week’s matchup against the Chiefs. 

Rodgers has looked as sharp as ever and has been reminding everyone why he deserves to be in the MVP conversation. It’s scary to think that Rodgers has been carving up NFL defenses these past four weeks without his main target Davante Adams. 

Adams will be making his long-awaited return in Week 9 after missing four games due to turf toe, meaning the Packers offense will operate at full strength against the Chargers. 

Home Game for Packers? 

    The Chargers haven’t had the home-field advantage that most teams do in the NFL. During their Sunday night matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the infamous Steelers “terrible towels” were extremely visible and gave the impression that the Chargers were the visiting team in their own stadium. 

    When the Packers faced the Rams last season at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Cheeseheads flooded the stadium and made it seem like the Packers were back at Lambeau Field. Expect a similar turnout for the Week 9 matchup against the Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park. 

Vegas Line

Opening: GB -3.0. 46.0 total. 

Saturday night: GB -4.0. 48.5 total. 

The Lightning Rod pick: It’s difficult to bet against arguably the best quarterback in the NFL right now. Rodgers and the Packers will continue their stride on offense while the Chargers will still be searching for their offensive identity. Both Rodgers and Jones star for Green Bay and will prove to be too much for Rivers to try and keep pace with. 

Packers 31, Chargers 21.

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