Chargers Bye Week Primer

With the Chargers on bye, Bolts Backers have to turn elsewhere for their football fix. Fortunately, the Sunday line-up is littered with contests that should pique the interests of the Chargers faithful. From AFC West showdowns to former Chargers under the spotlight, here are five games worth watching.

The 10 o'clock (PT) lineup kicks off with the Miami Dolphins (0-6) hosting the New England Patriots (6-0). This may be the most lopsided game on Sunday's docket but it provides a great opportunity to see some ex-Chargers in action. Starting QB Cleo Lemon, TE Justin Peelle, WR Greg Camarillo, RB Jesse Chatman, OT Cory Lekkerkerker and DE Derreck Robinson will all take the field for Cam Cameron's Dolphins. It will also be interesting to see how the offense copes with the loss of Chris Chambers, who was traded to the Chargers earlier this week.

Also on the morning schedule, the Houston Texans (3-3) take on the Tennessee Titans (3-2). This gives Chargers fans a chance to scout their upcoming opponent, as the Texans come to Qualcomm Stadium in week eight. The Texans started the season 2-0 before going 1-3 over the last four weeks. Much of that downward spiral is due to the absence of Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson (knee). Johnson has not practiced this week and is doubtful for the Titans game. Chargers fans can only hope that status remains the same a week from now.

When the 1 o'clock (PT) games get underway, Chargers fans can turn their attention to an AFC West showdown that features the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs (3-3) at the Oakland Raiders (2-3). In a phenomenon rarely seen in San Diego, Chargers fans might actually pull for the Raiders. If Oakland wins, the Chargers have a chance to claim first place in the AFC West -- San Diego owns the tiebreaker over Oakland, not Kansas City. Then again, a win by the Chiefs could end all of the "resurgent Raiders" talk and usher in the JaMarcus Russell era and another rebuilding season in Oakland.

The afternoon lineup also includes Wade Phillips' Dallas Cowboys (5-1) taking on the Minnesota Vikings (2-3). Chargers fans can watch the surging Cowboys and wonder what would have happened if Marty Schottenheimer were let go immediately after the season, allowing Phillips to step in as head coach rather than Norv Turner. Also worth watching are the Vikings, who the Chargers will face on the road in week nine. Rookie sensation Adrian Peterson enters Sunday's game as the league's leading rusher, 80 yards ahead of LaDainian Tomlinson. Last week, Peterson ran for 224 yards against the Chicago Bears, 199 more than Tomlinson gained against the same team.

The primetime game on NBC features the AFC West rival Denver Broncos (2-3) hosting the red-hot Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1). The Broncos will be without WR Javon Walker (knee) and C Tom Nalen (biceps); CB Champ Bailey is questionable (quad) after missing practice Wednesday and Thursday and doing limited work on Friday. On top of the injuries, the Broncos' league-worst rushing defense (187.2 yards per game) faces off against the Steelers' No. 2 rushing offense (167 yards per game). After narrowly winning their first two games, the Broncos have lost three in a row, including a 38-point drubbing at the hands of the Chargers in their last outing.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.

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