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Week 9: Green Bay Packers At San Diego Chargers Gameday Thread, 4:15 EST On FOX
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers went into their bye week as the league's only undefeated team, but Rodgers sees room for improvement.
San Diego's Philip Rivers may have nowhere to go but up after one of the most embarrassing performances of his career.
Making his first NFL start in his home state of California, Rodgers and the Packers will try to improve to 8-0 when they visit the Chargers on Sunday.
Green Bay is off to its best start since opening 10-0 in 1962, and has won 16 straight including its run to the Super Bowl last season.
With Rodgers putting up MVP-caliber numbers, the defending champs seem in good position for another lengthy playoff run.
Rodgers leads the league in completion percentage (71.5), touchdowns (20) and passer rating (125.7). He's on pace to break Drew Brees' single-season completion percentage mark (70.62 in 2009), and Peyton Manning's single-season quarterback rating record (121.1 in 2004).
Despite all that, he is still looking for ways to improve.
"This offseason, one of my goals was to decrease the space between a good game and a poor game," said Rodgers, who has three interceptions. "I'm looking forward to doing that and improving on that."
Playing in front of family and friends could provide additional motivation. Rodgers is making his first NFL start in his native Golden State. He was born in Chico and attended college at California.
"I always enjoy coming back to California," he said. "It'll be nice to play down there in San Diego. You've got a great field, a nice fast track, and it'll be fun to see some friends and family."
He and the Packers return to the field for the first time Oct. 23, when they rallied from early deficits to defeat Minnesota 33-27. Rodgers completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns.
"He is playing at an extremely high level," coach Mike McCarthy said. "The numbers speak for themselves, but this week will be a challenge for us in San Diego."
That's because the Chargers (4-3) rank fourth in the league against the pass, giving up 185.9 yards per game.
However, San Diego had little success slowing down Matt Cassel and the Kansas City Chiefs in a 23-20 overtime loss Monday night. Cassel threw for 261 yards -- second-most allowed by the Chargers this season.
After failing to protect a third-quarter lead in a 27-21 loss to the New York Jets on Oct. 23, San Diego was on the verge of defeating Kansas City in regulation after marching to the Chiefs' 15-yard line. However, on first down with 48 seconds remaining, Rivers fumbled the snap.
The eventual loss dropped the Chargers into a three-way tie with Kansas City and Oakland atop the AFC West.
"We've got to move forward in a hurry," Rivers said. "You've got a team that hasn't lost since last December coming in here. There's no time to dwell on the past because you can't change it."
The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback completed 26 of 41 passes for 369 yards against the Chiefs, but didn't have a touchdown and threw two interceptions. Rivers' 11 interceptions are the most in the NFL while his 80.7 passer rating ranks 19th.
"It's hasn't been my best stretch, obviously," he said.
Coach Norv Turner still has confidence in Rivers, and facing a Green Bay secondary that has struggled at times could help the San Diego quarterback. The Packers rank 31st against the pass, giving up 288.9 yards per game.
"We all know Philip is one of the most competitive people that I've ever known," Turner said. "I think he's pressing. Sometimes he's trying too hard. I think he's trying to make some plays where they aren't. When it's not there, we just have to let it go."
The short week for the Chargers won't allow much time for running back Ryan Mathews (groin) and Curtis Brinkley (concussion) to get healthy. Both sat out practice early this week along with receivers Vincent Jackson (hamstring) and Malcom Floyd (hip).
Meanwhile, the rested Packers are getting healthier. Defensive lineman Mike Neal could return from a knee injury this week, while cornerback Sam Shields has been cleared to play after missing a game with a concussion.
Linebacker Frank Zombo, who was inactive for the win over Minnesota with a hyperextended knee, could be available this weekend as well.
The Packers are 8-1 all-time against the Chargers and have won five in a row, including a 31-24 home victory in 2007 -- the most recent meeting.
[pic - click to view] Green Bay Packers vs. San Diego Chargers - Preview - November 06, 2011 - ESPN
Last edited by Steve; 11-05-2011 at 05:42 PM..