Philip Rivers never has missed a start since becoming a first-string NFL quarterback, and he hopes to stretch the streak to 186 in a row when the Los Angeles Chargers host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Rivers self-reported a concussion on Monday but is rapidly improving, and the expectation is that he will be on the field against the Bills.
Buffalo has a new starting signal-caller as rookie Nathan Peterman was elevated over running threat Tyrod Taylor despite the team’s 5-4 record. “I just expect to win every game I’m out there,” Peterman said at a press conference. “I think that’s the ultimate goal. What I measure myself on as a quarterback is, did we win? It doesn’t matter about stats or anything like that.” The surprise move complicated preparations for the Chargers as they began the week focused on Taylor before shifting to a quick study on Peterman. “You always have to know the first guy and the second guy,” Los Angeles defensive coordinator Gus Bradley told reporters. “I guess what’s unique this week is really completely different styles. So it puts a strain on us that way a little bit, but it’s been going good thus far.”
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Chargers -4.5. O/U: 43.5
ABOUT THE BILLS (5-4): Buffalo ranks just 28th in total offense (292 yards per game) and 30th in passing offense (180.4), and coach Sean McDermott is hoping that punching up the attack will lead to more victories. “It’s about becoming a better team. That’s what we’re here for,” McDermott said at a press conference. “We are 5-4. I understand that, and we are in the playoff hunt at this point. It is always, and will (be) for the time that I’m here, be about becoming the best team that we can possibly become.” The Bills lead the NFL in takeaway margin (plus-11) and the defense has received stellar play from safety Micah Hyde, who is second in the league with five interceptions.
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (3-6): The pass rush has been superb with 29 sacks (tied for second in the NFL), and stars Joey Bosa (9.5) and Melvin Ingram (8.5) likely are salivating at the thought of pressuring a rookie who is making his first start. Safety Tre Boston (career-best three interceptions) recorded his first multi-interception effort in last Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville and has been a solid surprise for a unit that ranks ninth in scoring defense (19.1 points). Rivers has passed for seven touchdowns in his last three meetings with the Bills and became the eighth quarterback in history to surpass 4,000 career completions last week, reaching 4,005.
1. The Chargers hold a 22-10-1 series advantage and have won the last two meetings.
2. Buffalo RB LeSean McCoy (595 rushing yards) has rushed for just 74 yards over his last two games, with 36 coming on one carry.
3. Los Angeles RB Melvin Gordon gained just 27 yards on 16 carries against Jacksonville after piling up a season-best 132 against New England in the club’s previous game.
PREDICTION: Chargers 17, Bills 6