Chargers (4-2) vs. Tennessee (3-3) in London
When Chargers have the ball
They enter Week 7 fifth in the NFL with an average of 29.2 points. Quarterback Philip Rivers is having one of his finest seasons, Melvin Gordon is gaining momentum as one of the league’s most versatile running backs and no other offense has scored at least three touchdowns in each game. Tennessee, however, has been notably protective of its end zone. Only Baltimore and Dallas are holding the opposition to fewer points per game than the Titans’ 17.8. Tennessee hasn’t given up more than 27 in a single game; the Chargers have scored at least 28 in four of their six contests. Rivers leads the AFC and is second in the NFL with a passer rating of 115.1. That’s the second-highest mark of his career through six games. His play has helped the Chargers gain the most yards in the league over the last 13 regular-season games. Gordon leads the AFC with 58 points and is coming off a three-touchdown performance in a victory at Cleveland. Three Chargers have had 100-yard receiving days this season and Mike Williams isn’t one of them. The emerging second-year wideout figures to have his big weekend before too long.
When Titans have the ball
Tennessee hasn’t scored a touchdown since last month. That time covers only two games, yes, but it certainly sounds damning, right? The Titans were shut out at Nissan Stadium for the first time Sunday, by Baltimore, and haven’t reached the end zone since beating Philadelphia in overtime on Sept. 30. Quarterback Marcus Mariota completed only 10 passes in 15 attempts for 117 yards against the Ravens. Statistically, the Chargers rank in the middle of the road against the pass but are trying to build off a game in which they impressively harassed Cleveland rookie Baker Mayfield. Before last week, Tennessee had permitted only nine sacks. Then Mariota was sacked 11 times by Baltimore, a stat that no doubt had the Chargers’ defensive meetings buzzing. The Titans’ running attack barely showed up last week, as well, producing 55 yards on 14 carries. The lack of a vertical threat in the passing game has allowed opposing safeties to crowd the line of scrimmage. This is an area where the Chargers can excel with the likes of Derwin James, Jahleel Addae and Adrian Phillips. Bottom line: One side in this matchup is feeling pretty good about itself. The other side first needs to score a touchdown before worrying about anything else.
When they kick
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn made it sound as if rookie Michael Badgley will kick again Sunday. Caleb Sturgis (quadriceps) missed the game in Cleveland and was limited in practice up until Friday. Badgley filled in against the Browns and made all five of his extra-point tries and a 44-yard field goal. The Titans aren’t scoring much, but it isn’t Ryan Succop’s fault. Tennessee’s kicker is 13 of 14 on field goals and six of six on extra points. Succop has converted all three of his attempts from beyond 50 yards, including a season-long 54 yarder.
Jeff Miller’s prediction
The Chargers appear to be the better team on paper and in reality, and are favored by nearly a touchdown. The Titans, who opened the season 3-1, are scrambling just to keep things together after consecutive defeats. But playing in London at the end of a disheveled week introduces some uncertainty. And the Titans have to be better than they were in losing 21-0 last weekend. They will be better Sunday but still not good enough.