Series: The Packers have dominated the series, boasting a 9-1 record. The average score in those 10 games is 31.5-16.6. The Packers have won six in a row in the series, with the Chargers’ last win coming at Lambeau Field in 1984. In that 34-28 shootout, Dan Fouts and Lynn Dickey combined for 760 passing yards with three touchdown passes apiece.
Last time: On Nov. 6, 2011, the Packers won at San Diego 45-38. It was a game typical of many games that season. The Packers’ offense was unstoppable and the defense gave up a bunch of garbage yards and points to keep the game too close for comfort. In a span of 2:33 in the fourth quarter, Aaron Rodgers threw touchdown passes of 21 yards to James Jones and 4 yards to Greg Jennings to give the Packers a commanding 45-24 lead. The Chargers piled up 460 yards but Charlie Peprah had two of Green Bay’s three interceptions.
Noteworthy: San Diego has gone 9-7 in its first two seasons under coach Mike McCoy. In 2014, it won five in a row early in the season and three in a row at midseason before losing to New England, Denver and Kansas City down the stretch. Philip Rivers, who was on the trade block before the draft, threw two touchdowns and five interceptions in those games. That gave Rivers a league-high 18 interceptions, tarnishing his sixth 4,000-yard season in the last seven years. Rivers will turn 34 in December. He ranks 20th in NFL history in completions and yards, 16th in touchdowns and sixth in passer rating. He’ll be helped by an improved offensive line. The Chargers signed guard Orlando Franklin away from rival Denver and right tackle Joseph Barksdale away from the Rams, plus re-signed solid left tackle King Dunlap. Franklin will pair with D.J. Fluker to provide an impressive tandem at guard. One beneficiary of the line play will be record-setting Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, who was their first-round pick. He should improve San Diego’s No. 30 ranking in rushing per game and No. 31 placement in rushing yards per attempt.
Offensive rankings: 17th in points (21.8 per game). 18th in yards (341.6 per game). 10th in passing (256.1 per game). 30th in rushing (85.4 per game).
Defensive rankings: T-13th in points (21.8 per game). 9th in yards (338.3 per game). 4th in passing (214.2 per game). 26th in rushing (124.1 per game).
2015 Comings and Goings
Draft: The Chargers sent a fourth-rounder to the Texans to move up in the first round to take Melvin Gordon, who immediately gives them their best running back since record-setting LaDainian Tomlinson. He’s an enormous upgrade over the always-injured Mathews. Second-round pick Denzel Perryman should join Manti Te’o as the inside linebackers. That should be a good run-stopping tandem but Te’o isn’t athletic enough to play on third down and Perryman might not be tall enough. The Chargers went the small-school route in the third round for cornerback Craig Mager of Texas State and fifth round for outside linebacker Kyle Emanuel of North Dakota State. Both should play right away in at least a situational capacity.
2015 Personnel in Focus
Pro Football Focus, that is. PFF has a color-coded rankings system for each team’s 24 “starters,” with the extra player to account for a key substitution package such as a third cornerback or third wide receiver. Green Bay has four blue/elite starters (Rodgers, Cobb, Nelson and Sitton), six green/high-quality starters (Lang, Lacy, Hayward, Peppers, Daniels and Matthews), four green/good starters (Linsley, Bulaga, Shields and Burnett), six yellow/average starters (Bakhtiari, Quarless, Kuhn, Hyde, Perry and Clinton-Dix) and four orange/below-average starters (Adams, Guion, Raji and Barrington). The Packers don’t have any starters rated poor and they don’t have any rookies projected to be starters.
The Chargers have ...
Blue/elite (1): S Eric Weddle.
Dark green/high quality (1): QB Philip Rivers.
Red/Poor (1): DE Kendall Reyes.
Silver/Not enough information (0): None.
Purple/Rookie (1): RB Melvin Gordon
TE Antonio Gates, on his recent 35th birthday: “I just really hang my hat on being a professional. I try to eat clean – my wife might not think that – but I try to eat as clean as I can and I try to set the bar, if you will. I try to do the unthinkable. When you turn 35 years old, people say what you can and can’t do. I try to find another goal and say, ‘OK, I want to be the first 35-year-old guy to be considered the best in his position.’”
Gates, on a four-game suspension handed out on Thursday for breaking the NFL’s substance-abuse policy: “In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails. I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and never taken any substance that was illegal or banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from a long season and although I was unaware at the time, I regret to confirm that I tested positive for a substance that is currently on the NFL banned substance list. As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Chargers RBs coach Ollie Wilson, on RB Melvin Gordon: “What I’ve seen from him is No. 1, he’s a big-time competitor. He wants to compete in any situation that he’s in. This guy is in the building every day, even on weekends. One of our offensive line coaches was in here working out on Sunday morning, and Melvin was in here on the treadmill at 5 a.m. So it’s one of those situations where he came in with a great desire to be a great player, and now he’s trying to work at it in that situation, and we’ll see how it goes.”