Reeling Chargers Can Still Cause Trouble

The Chargers are stuggling, but still have enough talent that Packers can't overlook them.

Nobody thought that the Chargers would be this bad but the collapse of quarterback Drew Brees and a slew of injuries proved to be too much for Marty Schottenheimer to overcome.

When the Chargers (3-10) host the Packers (7-6) Sunday, they aren't sure who will start at quarterback but as many as eight of their preferred starters won't play due to injury.

Schottenheimer has never lost 10 or more games before in 17 seasons as an NFL head coach. There is no future with Doug Flutie and there might not be with Brees, but the Chargers would like to evaluate Brees one last time before establishing their draft needs.

Two assistant coaches for teams that recently played San Diego said the Chargers clearly would have a better chance beating the Packers with Flutie. Since Brees was benched Nov. 2 in Chicago, Flutie has a 2-3 record and a passer rating of 84.2. Brees is 1-7 with a rating of 63.3.

"Flutie can get them out of trouble," one assistant said. "Looking at Brees early in the year, he wasn't accurate and he didn't look real crisp throwing to the right guy. That's why they benched him."

The Chargers upset visiting Minnesota (42-28) on November 9. After getting drilled in Denver (37-8), they were competitive in home losses to Cincinnati (34-27) and Kansas City (28-24) before winning Sunday in Detroit (14-7).

"Trust me, the Chargers are a bad football team," another assistant said. "Their defense is atrocious and their offensive line is terrible, but Flutie makes unbelievable plays for a 41-year-old guy and (LaDainian) Tomlinson is such an excellent player."

The Packers are a 5-point favorite, just as the Vikings were against the Chargers. Earlier, the Packers lost in Arizona and Detroit as a 7-point favorite.

"When you turn on the film they don't look like a 3-10 team, and I'm not just saying that to be professionally courteous," a third assistant said. "They play hard. I'll put it this way: they won't lay down. For anybody."

SERIES HISTORY: The eighth meeting. The Packers lead, 6-1. The last meeting was in October 1999 at Qualcomm Stadium. The Packers rolled, 31-3, and about 15,000 and 20,000 fans in the then record crowd of 68,000-plus cheered for Green Bay.

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