SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 14: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the San Diego Chargers passes the football before defensive end Chukie Nwokorie #90 of the Green Bay Packers sacks him during the game on December 14, 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Pack defeated the Chargers 38-21. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
It's been a crappy season for the San Diego Chargers, despite their winning (4-3) record. Their wins aren't all that impressive (Vikings, Chiefs, Dolphins, Broncos) and they've been losing to good teams (Patriots, Jets, Chiefs). Their best win is against a Chiefs team they just lost to after The Snap. The injury report isn't looking good either because they'll be without their best back (Ryan Mathews), best offensive lineman (Kris Dielman) and their best pass rusher (Shaun Phillips). But that's not their biggest problem.
What is Wrong with Philip Rivers? No one seems to have an answer. Football Outsiders has the Chargers ranked with the No. 17 best pass offense (No. 2 overall in 2010; well ahead of the Packers). Against the Chiefs last week, Rivers did a great job of finding the open receiver for a big gain in the middle of the field, but they just fell apart in the red zone. While their leading receiver (Mathews) is out, their 2nd leading receiver (RB Mike Tolbert) should have some success against a defense that struggles to cover running backs and tight ends. And the Chargers also have a good tight end (Antonio Gates) even if he isn't having his best season. They can still move the ball and score, but they're not as efficient and they've had a lot more turnovers.
On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers is winning every mid-season award he can. Aaron Schatz wrote that the Packers are "mediocre in every other way" except they "have the best passing game ever." Even if the Packers struggle in various ways, as they have done often this season, the Chargers have the No. 21 ranked pass defense and don't seem to be a good position to slow Rodgers down at all.
This was a tough game that I had my eye on when the schedules were announced. A long road trip to the west coast against a good team appeared to be a likely loss. But the Chargers have been a disappointment, and no one seems to be able to stop Rodgers and beat the Packers. However, the Packers haven't won on the road by a margin of more than 11 points, so don't expect a blow out either.
Packers 31, Chargers 24.