Chargers Preview: Bolts look to bounce back vs. Buffalo

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Jan 1, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) signals before the snap during the first half of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chiefs won 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The dust has settled on another frustrating Los Angeles Chargers defeat in Jacksonville last week. The Chargers have a chance to respond, at ‘home’, against fellow AFC opponents, the Buffalo Bills (5-4).

Both these teams are coming into this game with a two-game losing streak. After a 5-2 start, the Bills have been beaten back-to-back by their division rivals New York Jets, and last Sunday in New Orleans. They conceded a vast 81 points in those two fixtures.

The Chargers, of course, have lost two consecutive roads games either side of their bye week. When they last left the field at Stubhub Center, they had just shutout the Denver Broncos, and had won three straight recovering from a 0-4 start. Now, they find themselves in a gigantic hole.

Quarterbacks

The build-up to this game has dominated by the Quarterback rooms in both these teams.

First off, the Chargers WILL have Philip Rivers after he was cleared from the concussion protocol on Friday afternoon. Rivers has participated in at least some of practise all week, so this isn’t too much of a surprise. The 35-year-old has been far from his old self this season but with himself at QB, and not back-up Kellen Clemens, you feel like the Bolts have a much better chance.

On the other side, it was announced on Tuesday that Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott had decided to go in a different direction at QB. Usual starter Tyrod Taylor would be replaced by 5th round rookie Nate Peterman, who is being prepared for his first NFL start. Peterman did come in for the Bills last week, in the 47-10 loss against the Saints. He finished with 7-10, 79 yards and one touchdown.

Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn, who seemed very surprised at the change at QB for the Bills, has said that the team is preparing for Nate Peterman, and Tyrod Taylor, in case former is needed in the game.

Player/Coaching Ties

The obvious one here is Anthony Lynn. He was in Buffalo for two seasons with various coaching roles including; Runnings backs, Assistant Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and one game as the Interim Head Coach. He did interview for the previously vacant Bills HC role in January, but they decided to go in a different direction, with McDermott.

Another link between the two teams is Offensive Lineman Chris Hairston. He was drafted by Buffalo in the 4th round back in 2011, but has found himself with the Chargers over the past couple of seasons. Hairston is currently on the Reserve/Non-Football Illness list, but this hasn’t stopped him (trash) talking about the upcoming matchup. The OT has made his voice heard on twitter this week, especially interacting with Bills fans, with comments like:

How many Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram sacks need to happen so the poor performance by Peterman Sunday will be excused”

He also commented about the Bills playoff history:

Year 17 of the playoff drought don’t count cuz we weren’t trying to make it (Bills fans in January)

Hairston did, however, go on to say how much he enjoyed his time in Buffalo.

Playoff Chances

This is a huge game for both teams regarding the playoffs. At 3-6, I feel like I shouldn’t still be talking about the Chargers and the playoffs, but here I am. The Bills are currently in the 6th and final AFC playoff Wildcard spot at 5-4, so it’s important to them to stay ahead of the chasing pack with 7 weekends of football to go. One of those team can be the Chargers, if they get the win on Sunday. That would take them just one win behind Buffalo and will at least give themselves a shot which sounds crazy after their start to the season. A third straight loss for the Bolts and they will find themselves in deep water, on their way to another high draft pick.

Prediction

Having Philip Rivers available is big for the Bolts. I’m taking Rivers over a rookie QB, nine times out of ten. The Chargers defense is on the rise and I believe the Chargers run game will have a breakout game this week.

Final Score: 20-7, Chargers.

Thomas Herd is a Staff Writer and covers the Los Angeles Chargers for cover32.com/Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @chargers_uk.


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