Bolts Bullets: SD vs. WAS Primer

The Chargers seek to win three straight for the first time since 2011 as they head back to the East Coast to take on the Washington Redskins on Sunday. We run down everything you need to know about this contest between playoff hopefuls in this new feature.

  • Philip Rivers is on fire. He has thrown a TD pass in every game and has not thrown an interception in the last two games. Going against the league's No. 27 pass defense, Rivers seeks his fourth 400-yard game of the season, which would tie Dan Marino's single-season record. Rivers, though, is more concerned about points than yards. To that end, the Chargers spent the bye week focusing on red-zone offense, where they rank No. 22 in red zone efficiency at 48.1 percent.

  • Ryan Mathews has rushed for more than 100 yards in two consecutive games, the only running back in the league to accomplish that feat so far this season. He has a legitimate shot to make in three in a row versus the Redskins, who have the worst run defense in the NFC (123.4 rushing yards per game).

  • Robert Griffin III has been getting more and more healthy after offseason knee surgery, but that does not mean his entire game is on the upswing. He comes off one of his worst games (last week against the Denver Broncos). In Week 8, Griffin completed just half of his passes for 132 yards, one TD and two interceptions. He was also limited to just 7 yards rushing on five attempts.

  • Brandon Meriweather returns to work this week after serving a one-game suspension for his illegal, head-first hits. Still hot about his suspension and fine, Meriweather has vowed to aim for opponents' knees to avoid future sanctions, stating: "You've got to end people's careers." The Chargers, who already have both of their starting receivers on injured-reserve, need to be wary of this.

  • Jarret Johnson (hamstring) is back at practice this week and will play in Washington, barring any setbacks. That is a big break for the Bolts, who need Johnson to set the edge and contain the Redskins' read-option attack. Johnson has 19 tackles and three sacks in five games this season.

  • The bye week helped several players get healthy, but Donald Butler is still not recovered from a groin injury that has cost him the better part of three games this season. Butler did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Third-year 'backer Andrew Gachkar has started the last two games in Butler's place and there is a strong chance he does so again this week.

  • Gotta love coach speak. Coach Mike McCoy said Chad Rinehart, who has missed the last four games with a toe injury, seemed to be "rusty" in his return to practice. Translation: Don't be upset as I continue to use Johnnie Troutman at left guard while Rinehart "knocks off the rust." The Chargers are 3-1 in games Troutman has started and have found the offensive balance McCoy craves.

  • San Diego has three weeks before it has to activate Melvin Ingram from the PUP. It says here that Ingram, who had surgery on his torn ACL just over five months ago, will return to practice in November but will not play in a game again until 2014. That is the smart way for a rebuilding team to handle a likely defensive cornerstone. That is also the same approach the Chargers took with Troutman a year ago when he was on the PUP with a chest injury. And as mentioned above, that worked out pretty well.

What do you expect from the Bolts-Skins game? Discuss in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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