San Diego’s seven-game winning streak against the Titans — they’ve been rivals dating to the birth of the AFL in 1960 — is in jeopardy of ending. The Chargers found a new, mystifying way to lose last Sunday, when they committed turnovers on four straight first-half possessions, then had Kris Brown’s 50-yard field goal attempt bounce off the right upright to let the New England Patriots escape with a 23-20 victory. Titans-Chargers games have always been physical matchups, bordering on chippy. Although these teams don’t like each other, two principals from a nasty game in 2007, Shawne Merriman and Kevin Mawae, are no longer with their respective teams.
Keys for the Chargers
• Who’s Philip Rivers going to throw to? The Chargers remain thin at receiver due to injuries. With holdout Vincent Jackson not due to play until Nov. 28 at Indianapolis, the Chargers’ lack of depth and experience is showing. Rookie Richard Goodman left a live ball lying on the ground after his first career catch last Sunday, one of two glaring mental miscues that cost the Chargers. Malcom Floyd (hamstring) probably won’t play while Legedu Naanee (hamstring) might return. Tight end Antonio Gates is still a force even though he’s got a toe injury.
• Can the defense stop the Titans? San Diego’s D certainly has earned its keep this season, coming in allowing the fewest yards in the NFL. San Diego held Tom Brady and the Patriots to just 38 yards in the first half Sunday and 179 yards in the game. Now it’ll be asked to stop Chris Johnson, the NFL’s third-leading rusher with 662 yards (4.1-yard average) and Vince Young, who might be back after missing Sunday’s comeback win against Philadelphia with a sprained left knee and ankle. Kerry Collins led the Titans to 27 unanswered points in Sunday’s 37-19 victory against the Eagles.
Keys for the Titans
• Get the ball to Kenny Britt. The second-year pro had a career day with seven catches for 225 yards, including touchdowns of 26, 80 and 16 yards. All that, and he sat out the first quarter as punishment for being involved in a bar fight two days earlier. It was the best performance by a receiver in the NFL this season. The 6-3, 215-pound Britt is sure to present a matchup problem to the Chargers, who have to worry about the Titans’ passing game as well as the running game.
• Keep the momentum going on the road. The Titans have won three straight, including victories at Dallas, at Jacksonville and at home against the Eagles. They’re 3-0 on the road and last year proved they can win on the West Coast, when they had victories at San Francisco and Seattle.
The Chargers haven’t given their fans much reason to think they’re going to get their many mistakes fixed and play a solid game in all three phases. Titans 28–14.