Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) walks off the field in the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Detroit won 13-10. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) signals after Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) was held short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws in the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
CARSON, Calif. (AP) In a week in which one of his 2004 draft classmates suffered a season-ending elbow injury and the other was benched, Philip Rivers continues to be old reliable for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Rivers will make his 209th consecutive start on Sunday when the Chargers host the Houston Texans in a key early season matchup. That ties him with Eli Manning for the second-longest QB starting streak in NFL history.
Manning, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft, was benched this week by the Giants for rookie Daniel Jones and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the No. 11 overall selection, will miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury.
''I don't think you ever take it for granted, no question. I think even more-so now, you just realize that it doesn't last forever,'' Rivers said.
Longevity though is not what Rivers is focusing on this week. It is trying to bounce back from a disappointing 13-10 loss at Detroit where the Chargers' hope for a comeback ended when he threw an interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
The pick capped a day that saw the Chargers have two touchdowns called back because of penalties, two missed field goals and a turnover in the red zone. The loss leaves LA at 1-1 and facing a fellow playoff participant from last season.
''I think that we've shown the ability to bounce back over the years when we've lost some tough ones,'' Rivers said. ''Usually, you never take any satisfaction in losing, obviously, but most of our losses are going to be tough ones - at least I hope.''
Rivers is very much a pocket passer who is not fleet of foot, Deshaun Watson is the opposite. The third-year quarterback is two touchdown passes away from 50 in his career and needs 35 rushing yards to become the seventh QB in NFL history with 900 yards or more in his first 26 games.
While the Chargers are coming off a close loss, the Texans survived a missed 2-point conversion to beat Jacksonville 13-12.
''Everyone is making sure that as far as I go, the offense goes and the whole team goes,'' Watson said. ''It just kind of grows on itself and the more I play, the more reps I get, the more games I start as a quarterback here, the more it grows.''
Here is what else to watch for during Sunday's game:
STILL RUNNING WELL
There hasn't been any decline in the Chargers' running game despite Melvin Gordon's holdout. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson have combined to average 5.7 yards per carry.
Ekeler leads the AFC in scrimmage yards (287) and is tied for sixth in the league in offensive touches (46). However, he did fumble near the goal line in last Sunday's 13-10 loss to Detroit.
Jackson has been a nice change-of-pace back with seven of his 13 carries going for 10 yards or more.
Houston outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week this week after he had two sacks, forced two fumbles and had two quarterback hits in a win over the Jaguars last Sunday. His second strip sack was recovered by J.J. Watt and the Texans scored their only touchdown of the game four plays later. Mercilus is the only player in the NFL to force more than one fumble this season.
It was his second straight big game this season after he had a sack, an interception, five tackles, including one for a loss and a quarterback hit in Houston's opener.
''Whitney has been a very productive player for us over the years,'' coach Bill O'Brien said. ''He's been a guy that really is just known for doing his job. He just does a good job of setting the edge in the running game and then rushing the passer.''
Running backs Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson have filled in nicely in the first two games after Lamar Miller, who was Houston's featured back for the past three seasons, sustained a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game. The duo has helped the Texans average 153 yards rushing a game, which ranks fifth in the NFL. Hyde has carried a bigger load than Johnson so far and he is fifth in the league with 173 yards rushing.
Their success is impressive considering that neither player started camp with the team. Johnson came to Houston in a trade with Cleveland on Aug. 9 and Hyde joined the Texans on Aug. 31 in a deal with Kansas City.
PASS RUSHERS ON PARADE
The game will feature three of the top pass rushers in the AFC. Houston's J.J. Watt is still looking for his first sack this season and has never taken down Rivers.
Los Angeles' Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have combined for two sacks, both coming in the opener against Indianapolis.
The Chargers are hoping to get placekicker Michael Badgley back after he has missed two games because of a groin injury. Ty Long has handled both kicking and punting duties, but missed a pair of field-goal attempts last week.
The Texans have brought back punter Bryan Anger after Trevor Daniel struggled.
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell rushed 15 times for 70 yards while hauling in one of four targets for an additional six yards vs the Patriots Monday. Bell's 16 touches aren't ideal for fantasy, especially after getting only 15 touches last week, but he still dominated the backfield touches with the lower workload this week likely because New England dominated time of position and put the Jets in a passing game script early. No other Jet had more than two carries so fantasy owners can still insert Bell in their lineups expecting 15-20 touches weekly. The Jets offense has looked brutal at times this season but Bell is a borderline RB1 on volume alone, and with the schedule for New York softening a bit, Bell is a great buy-low running back.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder made four catches for 26 yards on five targets in a brutal home loss to the Patriots Monday night. Crowder's four catches lead the team on a night QB Sam Darnold only completed 11 passes, but he could do nothing with those catches against the elite New England secondary. Crowder's five targets are his fewest in three games with Darnold as Demaryius Thomas was targeted nine times in this game. Crowder will look to bounce back next week against a Jaguars secondary that will be a better matchup for him than this week vs the Patriots number one ranked defense.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson caught one pass for 10 yards on eight targets in an ugly loss to the Patriots Monday night. Anderson was blanketed by All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore all night and could get nothing going downfield as QB Sam Darnold was under pressure almost every snap. Anderson has had one game this year that was good for fantasy, and that included a 92-yard touchdown. The boom-or-bust nature of Anderson can be frustrating for fantasy, but the Jets schedule gets softer in the coming weeks so Anderson still has plenty of opportunity to make the big plays that he needs to have big fantasy weeks. He should be owned in 12-team leagues and started when he has a good matchup.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin both passed concussion protocol on Monday and should be fine heading into Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers. Both players missed time on Sunday but reentered the game. The health clearance sets up Breida as an RB3 against a weak Panthers rush defense, but hes taken a backseat to Tevin Coleman in recent weeks. Goodwin did not record a catch in Week 7 and has just 15 yards over the past two contests. Hell be a zero-floor WR5 against one of the leagues top pass defenses.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had a night to forget vs New England in Week 7 completing only 11 of 32 passes for 86 yards. Darnold, who was out with mono during the Jets' first meeting with the NFL's number one defense, threw a career-high four interceptions and also lost a fumble in a 33-0 beatdown. Darnold looked uncomfortable all night playing behind an offensive line that was down two starters and it showed. He consistently threw off his back foot, facing pressure on almost every drop back as the Jets had no answer for the vaunted Patriots Defense. While this night was rough, Darnold's schedule gets better in the next few weeks and could be a viable starter in two-quarterback leagues or desperation bye-week replacement.
New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas caught three passes for 42 yards in a loss to the Patriots Monday night. Thomas' nine targets lead the team, but he could do little with that opportunity as QB Sam Darnold was under pressure all night and only completed 11 passes total. Thomas has been getting more involved in recent weeks, but is still the third option behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder. He's nothing more than a desperation flex in deep leagues.
The New England Patriots have declared TE Matt LaCosse, DL Michael Bennett, WR Josh Gordon, SS Patrick Chung, OT Korey Cunningham, RB Rex Burkhead and TE Ryan Izzo inactive for Week 7.
The New York Jets have declared LB Albert McClellan, OT Kelvin Beachum, DL Henry Anderson, TE Chris Herndon, RB Trenton Cannon, LB Neville Hewitt and OG Kelechi Osemele inactive for Week 7.
Oakland Raiders WR Tyrell Williams (foot) is considered questionable for the Week 8 game at this point, according to head coach Jon Gruden. Williams was able to do some running Monday, Oct. 21.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players should monitor Williams' practice participation during the week to have a better idea of his status for Week 8. He is the team's top option in the passing game when healthy and can be a No. 3 fantasy receiver.
Los Angeles Chargers LB Melvin Ingram (hamstring) hopefully will be able to play in the Week 8 game, according to head coach Anthony Lynn.
Free-agent RB C.J. Anderson (Lions) recently worked out for the Oakland Raiders.
Pittsburgh Steelers CB Steven Nelson (groin) participated in practice Monday, Oct. 21.
Washington Redskins S Deshazor Everett (ankle), LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring), OG Wes Martin (chest), FS Montae Nicholson (ankle), CB Josh Norman (hand, thigh) and WR Steven Sims (toe) did not participate in practice Monday, Oct. 21. LB Ryan Kerrigan (elbow) and OT Donald Penn (non-injury) were limited during practice. The Redskins did not hold a practice Monday, so these are estimations.
Philadelphia Eagles DT Akeem Spence was released Monday, Oct. 21.
Washington Redskins QB Case Keenum (foot, shoulder) fully participated in practice Monday, Oct. 21. The Redskins did not hold a practice Monday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: Keenum struggled in inclement weather last week and will be facing another tough opponent again this week. He should be avoided in all fantasy leagues.
Washington Redskins TE Vernon Davis (concussion) was limited during practice Monday, Oct. 21. The Redskins did not hold a practice Monday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: Davis still needs to receive medical clearance to play, so he should be considered questionable this week. Fantasy players should look for other options to use and can keep Davis on the bench.
Washington Redskins RB Adrian Peterson (ankle) did not participate in practice Monday, Oct. 21. The Redskins did not hold a practice Monday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: Peterson recently underwent an MRI on his ankle, so his status for the Week 8 game is uncertain. Fantasy players should keep an eye on the situation over the next few days since Peterson could be a possible flex option if he plays.
Washington Redskins RB Chris Thompson (toe) did not participate in practice Monday, Oct. 21. The Redskins did not hold a practice Monday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: Thompson did not practice last week and missed Week 7, so he may be facing an uphill battle to play in Week 8 . Wendell Smallwood likely will fill in for Thompson again this week but probably can be avoided in most leagues.
Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (thumb) fully participated in practice Monday, Oct. 21. The Vikings did not hold a practice Monday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: Rudolph is coming off his best game of the season where he posted 58 yards and one touchdown. He may see a new more targets this week if Adam Thielen is not able to play and can be a low-end No. 1 fantasy tight end.
Minnesota Vikings DE Everson Griffen (quadriceps) and DT Linval Joseph (knee) did not participate in practice Monday, Oct. 21. DT Hercules Mata'afa (neck) and CB Xavier Rhodes (hip) were limited during practice. OT Riley Reiff (ankle), LB Eric Kendricks (hip), LB Ben Gedeon (concussion), OG Josh Kline (foot) and DT Shamar Stephen (knee) fully participated in practice. The Vikings did not hold a practice Monday, so these are estimations.