The Los Angeles Chargers’ Dignity Health Sports Park may well be renamed “Lambeau Field West” Sunday.
The Chargers’ home stadium is expected to be filled mostly with green-and-gold clad Packers fans for their 3:25 p.m. game between two franchise that have met just 11 times since 1970.
Green Bay is 10-1 in the series, with the only defeat (34-28) coming at Lambeau Field in October 1984. The teams last played in October 2015, when the Packers won 27-20 at Lambeau.
On paper, 7-1 Green Bay would appear to be the clear-cut favorite over 3-5 Los Angeles, which had lost three of its past four games.
Mike Ditka, former Chicago Bears head coach and tight end, says not so fast.
“I know there’s Super Bowl talk among Packer fans right now that they’re 7-1,” Ditka said. “But remember, you have to take them one at a time. In the NFL, you don’t look past anyone or you’ll get beat.
“It’s an unbelievable start for the Packers—Matt (LaFleur) is a good young coach and his team is responding well. You have a balanced offense run by the best football player—in my opinion—in the league in Aaron Rodgers. He’s a leader who makes everyone around him better. He’s got a running game and doesn’t have to do it all. Their defense bends, but doesn’t break. That’s the key—keeping the opposition off the scoreboard. Stats don’t matter.”
Ditka also said Green Bay, like every NFL team at this juncture of the season, is battling injuries.
“The Packers have had young players (receivers) step up and do what the coaches ask of them,” Ditka said. “They look like they’re having fun and are certainly fun to watch play football.”
While Rodgers has a hot hand with eight touchdown passes with no interceptions in the past two weeks and the team has jelled offensively, Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and the Chargers’ offense has struggled.
‘It’s obvious these first eight weeks that we just haven’t been good enough, offensively,” said Rivers, who is third in the league with 2,315 passing yards. “There were a handful of games where we should have scored more points and won games.”
For the past four games, their running game has been anemic Los Angeles has been held under 40 rushing yards—first team since the Detroit Lions in 1947 to have their ground game stymied for a month.
Rodgers hopes the Packers can continue to pull out wins on the road. “Good teams find ways to win,” said Rodgers, who has played his way into league MVP consideration.
The Green Bay offense could receive a huge boost with the return of Davante Adams, who has been out with a severe turf toe injury.
In the Packers’ injury report Friday afternoon, the Pro Bowl receiver is listed as questionable for the Chargers game. He has practiced on a limited basis this week.
Week 9 NFL Picks
Packers proving to be road warriors with wins at Chicago, Dallas, and KC. With Rodgers, Jones, and offense running on all cylinders, Green Bay is too much for Chargers in LA.
Packers 30, Chargers 23.