Chargers (7-3) vs. Arizona (2-8)
When Chargers have the ball
The last time we saw Philip Rivers, he was throwing one of the most unfortunate incompletions of his career. The veteran intentionally and strangely killed the clock last week in the final two minutes against Denver, giving the Broncos the precious seconds they needed to cap a game-winning field-goal drive as time expired. Afterward, Rivers’ explanation was that he simply messed up. The rush to redeem himself against Arizona might be palpable at StubHub Center. The Chargers remain a Top 10 team in every major offensive statistical category and only three teams have permitted fewer sacks. The Cardinals’ defense, though, has more sacks than all but three teams. Since 2016, linebacker Chandler Jones has the most sacks in the NFL. He and his teammates will have to hound Rivers plenty to have any chance in this game. In his 13th season as a starter, Rivers often is able to detect pressure before it happens and adjust to something that exposes a defense. But against Von Miller and the Broncos, that did not happen. This is just one thing Rivers will be attempting to rectify from last week, a loss so upsetting that it could eventually derail the Chargers’ season.
When Cardinals have the ball
Arizona is next to last in the NFL in points and yards passing per game. These facts are not encouraging and neither is where the Cardinals stand league-wide in total yards and yards rushing. In both, they are last. That’s what can happen when, by midseason, a team is working on its second starting quarterback and second offensive coordinator. Josh Rosen is considered the future of this franchise, the rookie out of UCLA possessing an arm that has been praised since his early high school days. But he is, indeed, a rookie, something that has the Chargers’ improving pass rush looking to improve even more. With Joey Bosa expected to make his first start of the season, the Chargers no doubt are scheming to push Rosen into the sort of mistakes that can decide a game. Midway through his first season, Rosen has throw more interceptions (10) than touchdown passes (nine). Of course, Bosa came back and played 31 snaps a week ago and the defense responded with zero sacks against Denver’s Case Keenum. The guess here is the Chargers won’t be blanked in getting to the quarterback two Sundays in a row.
When they kick
Rookie Michael Badgley had his first career miss last week, an extra point that later proved to be a killer when the Chargers lost, 23-22. In four NFL games, he is eight for eight on field goals, with a long of 46 yards. His kickoffs have noticeably improved of late. Badgley had two touchbacks Sunday after having only two in his first three games. The Cardinals’ Phil Dawson is 11th on the NFL’s all-time scoring list with 1,843 points. When Dawson debuted in the NFL last century, Badgley was 4 years old.
Jeff Miller’s prediction
There really isn’t a scenario that ends with an Arizona victory. The Cardinals — coming off a last-second loss to Oakland — appear to be a team capable of testing the NFL’s popular “On Any Given Sunday” rule. Add the fact that the Chargers just had an “On Any Given Sunday” and logic says they should respond with a better performance this week. In 10 games, the Cardinals have scored as many as 20 points twice. In 10 games, the Chargers have scored at least 20 points 10 times.