The Chargers are on a roll as they head to Washington riding a three-game winning streak with an offense that is seldom misfiring.
But will that revved offense be missing All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates?
Gates hurt his right foot and left the field on a cart Sunday, and his availability for the team's meeting with the Redskins won't be known until later this week. Initial X-rays showed he no break.
"It's a sprain," said Gates, the team's leading receiver who was injured in the third quarter of Sunday's win over the Bills.
Gates' status is about the only negative for an offense that is playing with poise and confidence. And a big reason for its strut is the play of quarterback Drew Brees. He's coming off the seventh 300-yard game of his career, one in which his 84.8 completion percentage nearly broke his team record of 88 percent.
"When you're confident with your game plan and you're executing, you get in a rhythm, and that is the way the game is supposed to be," Brees said.
As Brees builds on his Pro Bowl season of last year, many speculate he's done more than enough to win a multiyear contract from the Chargers. But Brees said the team's decision to go with him or Philip Rivers as the long-term quarterback isn't up to him.
"I don't think there is any doubt in my mind and my heart," Brees said. "All I can do is go out and worry about the things that I can control and try to do the best I can each week, which is to help us win."
Rival defenses once dared Brees to beat them, as they focused on stopping LaDainian Tomlinson. But with an accurate Brees (18 touchdowns, eight interceptions) throwing to targets such as Gates, Keenan McCardell, Eric Parker and Reche Caldwell, that's a risky proposition.
"He's very underrated," McCardell said. "But I think he likes to fly under the radar a little bit. At the end of the year you look up and see his numbers and you're like, 'Wow, he had a great year, an excellent year.'"
The Chargers coasted to a 48-10 victory over the visiting Buffalo Bills after building a 35-10 lead at halftime.
Four Chargers caught touchdown passes from Drew Brees, as the Bills defense was overmatched from the opening drive.
Keenan McCardell had a game-high six catches and 88 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown.
--If Gates is out Sunday, he would be replaced by Justin Peelle, who's more of a run blocker than a pass catcher. But Peelle exited Sunday's game with a shoulder injury, although it's not considered serious.
--LT Roman Oben is somewhat confident he can return to the starting lineup Sunday after missing the past two games with a foot injury.
--RB Michael Turner continues to play well when spelling LaDainian Tomlinson. He averaged 6 yards on eight carries and scored a touchdown against the Bills.
--OLB Steve Foley (abdominal strain) is moving around better and could be available Sunday; he's skipped the past three games.
--RB Darren Sproles continues to struggle fielding punts and could be replaced by Eric Parker if he doesn't improve.
Entering Sunday's game against Arizona, the Rams entertained thoughts of putting on a rush to make the playoffs because of a schedule that included games against the Cardinals, Houston, Washington and Minnesota in the next four weeks.
But after a 38-28 home loss to Arizona, a game in which quarterback Marc Bulger injured his right shoulder for the second time this season, this is a team that must figure out a way to win just one game, much less a string of games.
Asked what the team has to do now after the loss to Arizona, running back Steven Jackson said, "We go back to work. There is no need to keep your head down. We have to finish out strong, and we have a lot of games to play. We can't just give up because we lost. We're all professionals here, and we just have to go out and get ready for practice later on this week."
Said defensive end Leonard Little, "We expect to win every game, that's how the NFL is. We knew they were going to play us hard, and we knew we had to make plays to win the game. Including myself, I didn't make enough plays to win this game like I should have. This defense calls on me to be that person who makes the plays, and I wasn't able to make that big play today for us to get the advantage. We just have to come back and hopefully win in Houston next week."
Wide receiver Torry Holt knows to have any chance of playing in the postseason, the Rams can't lose again.
"We have to run the table," Holt said, "and hope that some teams lose to give us a shot to get in. And we have a very tough table to run. We have some good football teams coming in. Right now everyone is scratching and clawing to get in. We definitely have to get some sense of urgency in order to run the table and hope for some other teams to give us an opportunity."
Of course, even a cockeyed optimist knows the Rams can't play as they did Sunday and win all six of their remaining games.
Acknowledged interim coach Joe Vitt, "This is a very disappointing end for our football team. We cannot win football games with the penalties that we are having, the turnovers that we are committing, and the lack of turnovers that we are not getting. The ball was out twice on the ground from their offense, and we did not get it. We had a huge fumble down there at the plus 20-yard line, right before the half and came away with no points. We can't do that stuff. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We are self-destructing."
The Cardinals scored 22 points in the fourth quarter, with two touchdowns coming on drives that totaled 20 yards, as the Rams lost 38-28 in quarterback Kurt Warner's homecoming.
The former Rams two-time MVP completed 27 of 39 passes for 285 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 115.9 in Warner's first game in St. Louis since he left the team after the 2002 season.
The Rams pulled to within 24-20 of the Cardinals with 3:35 left in the game, but the ensuing kickoff was returned 90 yards by Reggie Swinton to the 5-yard line. Arizona scored in two plays, then added another touchdown 1:17 later after recovering a fumble on a sack of quarterback Jamie Martin at the Rams 15-yard line.
--QB Marc Bulger suffered a shoulder injury and concussion with 4:31 to play in the third quarter against Arizona and did not return. Information was hard to come by after the game, but it is believed he could miss the next three or four games.
--SS Adam Archuleta suffered a mild concussion in the first quarter against the Cardinals and did not return. His status for Sunday's game against Houston is unknown.
--OL Blaine Saipaia suffered a concussion after being knocked out on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter against Arizona.
--RG Adam Timmerman ended up starting Sunday against Arizona after being declared out as the starter by interim coach Joe Vitt during the days before the game. Timmerman has been bothered by back problems, and he has experienced problems with the foot on which he had surgery in the offseason.--RB Steven Jackson, who struggled blocking against the blitz for most of the game Sunday against Arizona, was replaced by Arlen Harris late in the contest. He gained 6 yards on 12 carries.
The Cardinals need to start making decisions about their future at quarterback in the coming weeks, and Kurt Warner likely will be part of their plan.
Warner has played well since returning to the starting lineup three weeks ago. He's completed 64 percent of his passes for 978 yards and five touchdowns. In that time, he's had three interceptions but none in the past two games.
Warner is working under a one-year, $4 million deal. His backup, Josh McCown, also has a one-year contract and likely will depart through unrestricted free agency in the off-season.
Warner appears to want to stay in Arizona. His wife Brenda is expecting twins in December or January, and after moving his family twice the past two years, Warner isn't anxious to do it again.
After a horrendous start, the Cardinals offense has shown some improvement in the past two weeks. If that continues, Warner might see a brighter future in Arizona.
"I wanted to come in here and have our team perform well," he said after last week's victory in St. Louis. "I know it could spearhead what we are trying to accomplish through the end of this year and on into next year."
Injuries have made the offensive line a weekly question mark, but there has been some improvement the past two weeks.
Running back J.J. Arrington is playing an increasingly large role in this offense, and the team needs his quickness and speed. Receiver Anquan Boldin is back after missing two games with a knee injury, and he makes a huge difference in the team's offensive production.
With Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, Warner hopes to have a duo that rivals what he had in St. Louis with Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Boldin and Fitzgerald don't have the speed the Rams' receivers had, but they are physical and run well after the catch.
"That's something me and him (Fitzgerald) talk about, being the best in the league," Boldin said. "We're young and we have a lot of years ahead of us."
Quarterback Kurt Warner shredded his old team for three touchdowns, and the Cardinals defense shut down the run in a 38-28 victory Sunday in St. Louis.
The defense tackled much better than it did the previous week in Detroit, limiting Rams running back Steven Jackson to 6 yards on 12 carries. Strong safety Adrian Wilson blitzed on almost every play and finished with eight tackles and three sacks.
The victory broke a three-game losing streak for the Cardinals.
--K Neil Rackers is still perfect this year, making all 31 of his field-goal attempts. That broke the franchise record of 30 set in 1995 by Greg Davis. Six of those kicks were from 50 yards and longer. That's the second-most 50-yarders in a season in NFL history, behind Morten Andersen, who had eight for Atlanta in 1995.
--CB Eric Green, a rookie, made his first start Sunday, and the Rams were well aware of it. They continually picked on him, which is why Green finished with 15 tackles.
--QB Kurt Warner was greeted with a nice ovation when he took the field Sunday in St. Louis. He waved to the crowd and then recaptured a little bit of lost glory, passing for three touchdowns and 285 yards.
--G Alex Stepanovich might miss a game or two with a sprained right shoulder. The Cardinals can't afford another injury at guard. Already, rookie Elton Brown is out with a knee injury, and he might not return for a couple more weeks. If Stepanovich can't play, he'll be replaced by veteran Adam Haayer.--OLB Karlos Dansby didn't play against St. Louis because of a pulled groin muscle. He was listed as questionable all last week but never practiced. His replacement, Darryl Blackstock, played fairly well. He caused a fumble that led to a touchdown.