By Jeremy Gonzalez, Sports Editor
Chargers vs. Texans, 1:25 p.m. DignityHealth Sports Park, CBS
Chargers record: 1-1. After a thrilling overtime victory over the Colts at home in week 1, the Chargers were on the wrong end of a close game, last week, losing 13-10 against the Detroit Lions on the road.
Texans record: 1-1. While the Chargers were on the wrong end of a tight game, the Texans were able to hold on to their victory, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 13-12 at home in week 2.
A tale of two quarterbacks
Week two in the National Football League saw one of his 2004 draft classmates suffer a season-ending elbow injury and another get benched in favor of a rookie, but Phillip Rivers continues to be the steady reliable quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Rivers is supposed to make his 209th consecutive start Sunday against the Houston Texans. That will tie him with draft classmate Eli Manning for the second-longest QB starting streak in NFL history (Brett Favre owns the longest starting streak).
Manning was the player mentioned above who got benched in favor of the rookie, New York Giants first-round pick Daniel Jones. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlisberger was the 2004 draft classmate who suffered the elbow injury that will cause him to miss the rest of the season.
Rivers is probably thankful that he has been able to make so many consecutive starts without suffering an injury that might sideline him, but he has other things to worry about, like bouncing back from the difficult road loss last week. The Chargers lost 13-10 against the Detroit Lions, their late comeback derailed by a Rivers pass intercepted in the end zone with 1:10 left on the game clock.
The Chargers also had two touchdowns called back by penalties and two missed field goals. They had plenty of opportunities to take the lead, but never capitalized. That means they return home with a record of 1-1 to host the Texans, a playoff team from last season that looks to make another run in the postseason this year.
This week’s game serves as a tale of two quarterbacks who have different styles. Rivers is a pocket passer who will hang in there as long as he can before unleashing a dime to his target. His opponent, Deshaun Watson, is the polar opposite. He is known for making plays with his feet, whether he runs for extra yards or extends the play and makes a pass downfield to a receiver who takes advantage of the extra time by his nimble quarterback and finally shakes off his defender.
Watson is a fierce competitor who is always determined to help put his team in a position to win. Let’s rewind to Week 1 when he faced future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees and the Saints on the road. New Orleans is always a tough environment for visiting teams as it is one of the loudest NFL stadiums in the country. With just under one minute left in the game, the Texans were down 27-21 and needed to go 75 yards to score. Watson stepped up to the challenge in a hostile environment and threw an absolute dime to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, a 38-yard dart that moved the Texans into Saints territory. The next play, Watson unleashed a 37-yd touchdown pass to the newly acquired Kenny Stills and gave his team the lead 28-27, needing only two plays and 13 seconds to accomplish the improbable on Monday Night Football.
However, the Texans defense was not able to stop Brees and company as they conceded a 58-yd field goal as time expired and ended up losing, 30-28. But that was not on Watson and the offense. He put them in a position to win after being under extreme pressure before the final drive. Watson isn’t afraid of challenges, and his showing on Monday Night in Week 1 proved that.
Watson is also only two touchdowns shy of hitting the 50-TD career mark and needs only 35 rushing yards to be the seventh QB in NFL history with 900 yards or more through his first 26 games.
The Chargers running game has not missed a step so far this season, even without star running back Melvin Gordon, who is still holding out. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson have continued to fill in admirably, combining to average 5.7 yards per carry. Ekeler leads the AFC in scrimmage yards with 287 and is tied for sixth in the league in offensive touches (46). Jackson has been used as a change-of-pace running back and has had seven of his 13 carries go for 10 yards or more.
Pass rushers will be on full display in the Week 3 matchup, as defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa will suit up for the Chargers while J.J. Watt suits up for the Texans, still looking for his first sack of the season.
The Chargers are hoping to receive a boost on special teams this week as they are hoping to get kicker Michael Badgley back after he missed two games due to a groin injury. Ty Long has been handling the punting and kicking duties, but missed two field-goal attempts last week.
Opening LAC -3.0, 47.5 total. Saturday night: LAC -3.0, 48.5 total
The Lightning Rod Pick: The Chargers played well at home during their first match against an AFC South opponent. This matchup will be no different. The pass rushing duo of Ingram and Bosa will wreak havoc on a shaky Texans offensive line. Watson will not be able to get comfortable behind the offensive line and will be sacked three times in the game.
Chargers 27, Texans 24.