The Los Angeles Chargers are flying high after their typical slow start to a season and not even traveling more than 5,000 miles for their next home game can dull their emotions.
The surging Chargers will go for their fourth consecutive victory when they take on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon at Wembley Stadium in London.
“We know we are in kind of a groove right now and we want to make sure we don’t do anything to stop that,” Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers said. “We know it’s going to be a great game against a tough team. We need to focus on the game and not all the stuff going around it.
“It’s a long way to go but it might be the last time I make this trip over there. We got a chance to get to 5-2 so this is a big game. That other stuff is fun to talk about, playing in London, but we got to make sure we get the win and get to 5-2.”
Los Angeles’ two losses have come to the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, two teams that entered Week 7 with a combined 11-1 record. A win over the Titans will assure that the Chargers head into their bye no more than one game back of AFC West-leading Kansas City.
While Los Angeles has moved back into contention in its division by coasting to consecutive easy victories over Oakland and Cleveland, the Titans (3-3) have hit a wall with back-to-back defeats to fall into a three-way tie with Jacksonville and Houston atop the AFC South.
Tennessee has been held without a touchdown for the past eight quarters and is coming off a dismal offensive performance in last weekend’s 21-0 shellacking by visiting Baltimore. The Titans managed only seven first downs and 106 total yards in absorbing their first shutout at home since 1999.
“That’s not Tennessee Titans football, and that’s not how we do things,” Tennessee receiver Tajae Sharpe said. “We know the type of offense we have and the type of guys we have on the offensive side of the ball. We’re very confident in what we can do. It’s just about doing it on a consistent basis.
“It’s a new week, so we have to put last week behind us. We need to stay focused on the Chargers.”
Los Angeles, conversely, ranks in the top 10 in the NFL in both total offense (412.5 yards) and points (29.2) after easing to a 38-14 victory over Cleveland on the first leg of its trip to London.
Rivers, who has 15 touchdown passes against three interceptions, had season lows with 207 yards on 11 completions as the Chargers leaned on a ground game that churned out 246 yards. Rivers has been steely efficient, ranking second in the league with a passer rating of 115.1.
“Philip is a big part of that process,” Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn said. “He didn’t have the day off. He threw some outstanding passes and checked us into plays. He helped so we weren’t running uphill.”
Melvin Gordon rushed for 132 yards and three scores to lead the Chargers in the romp over the Browns. He has nine rushing touchdowns on the season, including six on the ground, and ranks second on the team with 30 receptions.
Los Angeles has been without star defensive end Joey Bosa all season due to a foot injury but still racked up five sacks against Browns rookie Baker Mayfield. That’s an ominous sign for Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was sacked a staggering 11 times by the Ravens.
Tennessee converted only 1 of 10 third-down chances against Baltimore. Mariota said that one key to fixing what ails the Titans is doing a better job on first and second downs. Last week, Tennessee averaged more than 10 yards per third-down distance.
“It starts on first and second down,” said Mariota. “We can be efficient and create third and manageable, we’re not getting into all these exotic pressures. I think that will help.”
Tennessee ranks 30th overall in total offense with an average of 262.7 yards and is rushing for 98.5 yards per game. That’s not the production the Titans envisioned when they signed running back Dion Lewis to a four-year contract in free agency to pair with Derrick Henry in the backfield.