3 storylines: Packers vs. Chargers
Each Tuesday, Press-Gazette Media will turn to the week ahead with three storylines for the Green Bay Packers’ next game. This week, the opponent is the San Diego Chargers. Here’s a glimpse of what to watch for when the Packers host the Chargers for a 3:25 p.m. kickoff Sunday.
1. Streaking into the bye: It’s beginning to look a lot like 2011.
No, the Packers aren’t blowing out opponents as they did that year en route to opening with a 13-0 record (although of the three undefeated NFC teams, the Packers’ average margin of victory of 11.2 is the highest). Instead, it’s been a tough, balanced attack that has led to their first 5-0 start in four seasons.
Their defense looks as good as at any point in years, and the offense has weathered several key injuries to stay afloat. If the Packers beat the Chargers, they will enter the bye week 6-0, something that could provide a big boost as they prepare for the second half of the season.
2. A Badgers homecoming: Chargers rookie tailback Melvin Gordon hasn’t been quite as productive as fellow rookie Todd Gurley — whom the Packers faced last week — but he has shown the same explosive traits that made him a Heisman Trophy finalist at Wisconsin.
Gordon has four runs of at least 20 yards in the season’s first five games, a big-play threat for an offense that needs a rushing presence behind Philip Rivers. While Gordon isn’t at the level of some tailbacks the Packers have seen this season — he’s no Marshawn Lynch or Jamaal Charles — they will have to be aware of his game-breaking speed.
With that said, Gordon still is looking for his first touchdown. It sure would be something if the first time he finds the end zone in the NFL, it’s on Wisconsin soil.
Offense not panicking over recent lull
3. Which way the Rivers bends: There are times Philip Rivers looks like one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, rifling passes downfield and making plays most others can’t. Then there are the other times.
A year ago, the five-time Pro Bowler threw for 4,286 yards and 31 touchdowns, both ranking among the NFL’s top 10. He also threw 18 interceptions, tying Jay Cutler for most in the league.
He has been a little more steady this season, currently at 10 touchdowns and five interceptions, but there’s always a chance he could throw three picks.
The Chargers will need Rivers to be flawless to have any chance of beating the Packers inside Lambeau Field.
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