Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has been impressive the past two weeks with a QB rating no less than 112.5. Rivers, who shredded the Eagles for 419 yards and three TDs, threw for 184 yards with a touchdown on 20-of-24 passing versus the Titans. The reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week had seven touchdown passes through the first two weeks.
"The game kind of goes through spurts," Rivers explained. "They (Titans) were playing a lot of two-deep coverages or man underneath. I don't know how many total plays we had, but it didn't feel like we had the ball as much as we did last week. And we had some short fields."
Rivers was the subject of controversy in the second quarter, when he was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct when he argued an offensive pass interference call on wide receiver Keenan Allen. The penalty erased a five- yard TD catch by Eddie Royal and the play would have made it 14-3.
"I have not seen the replay. I'm not sure if it was the right call or not," Rivers told the San Diego Union Tribune. "Obviously, that's what I was so upset about. That was a big play. It was a big play in the game. It was a touchdown, and it gets called back."
For how porous the defense has been, San Diego cannot afford to give away points. That will cost them down the road if it continues. Rivers, though, has shined throughout the last three weeks and has completed 70-of-100 attempts (70 percent) for 798 yards, eight touchdowns, one interception and a rating of 116.2. Among starting QBs, Rivers is second in completion percentage, touchdowns and passer rating.
Whether that translates into a win over the Cowboys is a mystery.
Dallas leads the all-time series with San Diego, 6-3, and the two teams haven't met since a 20-17 win by the Chargers on Dec. 13, 2009. Rivers threw for 272 yards with a touchdown, while Romo passed for 249 yards and two scores. The Chargers have won two of the past three in this series.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Cowboys defense racked up six sacks against the Rams and will try to get in Rivers' face Sunday. Rivers has been sacked five times this season and went down just twice versus Tennessee behind a solid offensive line.
Dallas will try to bust that line and held the Rams to 232 total yards, including 35 rushing. All-Pro linebacker DeMarcus Ware and linebacker Justin Durant each had six tackles Sunday, but Ware also posted two sacks to pass Harvey Martin as the team's all-time sacks leader.
"He's one of the best that ever did it. He's the best, in my opinion," Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "It's a privilege to play alongside a guy like that, a future Hall of Famer. He's just a great teammate. He loves his teammates. It couldn't happen to a better guy."
Expect Ware's role to expand even further with the recent injury to defensive end Anthony Spencer, who may need microfracture surgery on his left knee. Spencer underwent knee surgery at the end of July and missed the Cowboys' season opener against the Giants. He returned in Week 2 against Kansas City and just missed Week 3's win against St. Louis.
"It's a real setback," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told 105.3 'The Fan' in Dallas on Tuesday morning.
The Cowboys made some moves across the defensive line by signing former Colts defensive tackle Drake Nevis and waiving Jerome Long. Nevis was released at the end of training camp and was claimed off waivers by the Chargers, who then released him.
So far this season the Chargers have been able to keep Rivers' jersey clean. They have turned away three decent pass rushes over the first three weeks, which has led to the re-emergence of Antonio Gates (228 yards, TD) and the breakout of Eddie Royal (148 yards, 5 TD). The Chargers will have to keep airing it out until Mathews proves he can help move the chains and give San Diego some options other than passing the ball.
The Cowboys can grab a stranglehold on the NFC East with a win Sunday and that will come via another strong outing by Murray. It appears Murray has found his groove and nobody is more appreciative than Romo, who is hoping this lasts so he doesn't have to carry the team. Wide receiver Dez Bryant said his ailing back is getting better and should be "100 percent" by Sunday. Bryant has to like what he sees from San Diego's weak pass defense and will contribute immediately. Rivers will still get his numbers, but it won't be enough.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cowboys 24, Chargers 17