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.
The Vikings Defense is again ranking among the NFL's best through six weeks. They rank fifth in yards allowed per game (310.3), fifth in yards allowed per play (4.8), sixth in points allowed per game (15.5), and 10th in sacks (17). They face the Detroit Lions on the road in Week 7 in a pivotal divisional matchup. Though the Lions have some nice weapons in Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay, and veteran Matthew Stafford, the Vikings shouldn't have too much trouble keeping them contained in what projects to be a low-scoring affair. Stafford has only thrown two interceptions this year but also has four fumbles (two lost). Start the Vikings Defense as a top-eight play in Week 7.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison remains the clear backup to starter Dalvin Cook, but the rookie has started to emerge as a player who could be used as a bye week streamer in favorable matchups. Mattison rushed 14 times for 63 yards in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that ranks among the league's best at stopping the run. He has notably received at least seven carries in 4-of-6 games as the Vikings remain a very run-heavy team. The Lions are being torched by the run this year and give up the third-most fantasy points to running backs, so Mattison could provide some great value if he can approach 10 touches in this game. Only start Mattison if you're in desperate need of a deep league FLEX option in Week 7 - he's still best viewed as a high-priority handcuff.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs should be started as a low-end WR2 in Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. He went nuclear in Week 6 with seven catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns, but the Lions Defense is tough against outside receivers and there's a chance that he's shadowed by shutdown corner Darius Slay. There's also a high likelihood of the Vikings featuring Dalvin Cook in the run-game as the Lions haven't stopped anyone on the ground so far this season. Diggs should be in lineups as a WR2/3 but remains difficult to trust in tough matchups and with the Vikings' run-first attack.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin should see a bump in usage with Deebo Samuel (groin) ruled out in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. Goodwin leads all Niner wideouts in snaps but has surpassed 45 receiving yards just once this season. With the team heavy favorites and the Redskins pass defense inept at handling shorter routes, Goodwins skillset could be marginalized. Expect the Niners to keep pounding the rock on the ground and tight end George Kittle to continue dominating targets. Goodwin needs just one big play to return fantasy value but hes a low-floor WR4. Receivers Kendrick Bourne and Richie James Jr. will likely share snaps voided by Samuel.
Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) didn't practice all week but is questionable for Week 7 against the Seahawks. Brown missed last week and is certainly on the wrong side of questionable this weekend. Making things even more difficult for fantasy owners is the fact that Brown and the Ravens kick off in the afternoon on Sunday. He's an extremely risky WR3 if he suits up. If Brown misses his second straight game, Willie Snead, rookie Miles Boykin, Seth Roberts and Chris Moore will have increased roles. Snead and Boykin have the most upside, but even they would be more of WR5 options in a run-first offense. Tight end Mark Andrews would be the only fantasy lock if Brown were inactive.
Houston Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph (hamstring) is questionable for Week 7 against the Colts, but he's expected to return and will likely be tasked with slowing down wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Cornerback Bradley Roby (hamstring) is questionable but is not expected to play. Safety Tashaun Gipson (hip) is questionable but is expected to play. It's good news that the Texans will have both Joseph and Gipson in their secondary, but Houston's defense/special teams is a low-upside fantasy streamer during bye weeks.
Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 18, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Lockett has caught each of his last 11 targets over the last three games and is the main option in the passing game. He is a must-start option in all leagues despite the matchup.
Seattle Seahawks RB Chris Carson (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 18, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Carson has been one of the best running backs over the last three weeks and will continue to receive plenty of touches in the offense. He should be a starting option in every league this week.
Seattle Seahawks TE Will Dissly (Achilles) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 18, and has been ruled out for Week 7. S Lano Hill (elbow) did not practice and is listed as doubtful. OT Duane Brown (biceps) and S Bradley McDougald (back) missed practice and are listed as questionable. OG D.J. Fluker (hamstring), DE Quinton Jefferson (oblique) and DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle) were limited during practice and are listed as questionable. LB K.J. Wright (knee) fully participated in practice and is not on the injury report.
Dallas Cowboys CB Anthony Brown (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 18, and has been ruled out for Week 7. C Joe Looney (back) did not practice and is listed as questionable. DE Dorance Armstrong (neck), OT La'el Collins (knee), CB Byron Jones (hamstring), OG Zack Martin (ankle, back) and OT Tyron Smith (ankle) were limited during practice and are listed as questionable. LB Sean Lee (knee, non-injury) did not practice but is not on the injury report. P Chris X. Jones (back) were limited during practice but is not on the injury report. C Travis Frederick (non-injury) and RB Tony Pollard (knee) fully participated in practice and are not on the injury report.
Los Angeles Rams LB Clay Matthews (jaw) was unable to practice all week and has been ruled out for Week 7 versus the Atlanta Falcons. RB Malcolm Brown (ankle) also did not practice all week and is listed as doubtful. S Eric Weddle (non-injury) did not practice Friday, Oct. 18, but was removed from the injury report. CB Jalen Ramsey (non-injury) and RB Todd Gurley (quad) practiced in full Friday and also no longer appear on the injury report.
Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup (knee) was limited during practice Friday, Oct. 18, but is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Gallup could be the main option in the passing game this week because of the injuries to Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb. Gallup can be considered a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (ankle, quadriceps) was limited during practice Friday, Oct. 18, and is listed as questionable for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Cooper is expected to be able to play this week, but fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his official status. He will be a risky option if he plays but can still be a starting option in fantasy leagues.
Houston Texans OL Tytus Howard (knee) and OL Greg Mancz (concussion) did not participate in practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 7 against the Indianapolis Colts. CB Johnathan Joseph (hamstring), CB Bradley Roby (hamstring) and S Tashaun Gipson (hip, wrist) were limited and are listed as questionable. LB Zach Cunningham (knee), WR Will Fuller (calf, oblique), WR DeAndre Hopkins (ribs), RB Carlos Hyde (calf), RB Taiwan Jones (hip) and WR Kenny Stills (hamstring) were able to practice in full Friday, Oct. 18, and have been removed from the injury report.
New York Jets DE Henry Anderson (shoulder), OT Kelvin Beachum (ankle), RB Trenton Cannon (ankle, foot), LB Neville Hewitt (knee, neck), LB Albert McClellan (concussion), OG Kelechi Osemele (shoulder), OG Alex Lewis (neck) and FS Rontez Miles (non-injury) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 18. CB Nate Hairston (knee), LB C.J. Mosley (groin), CB Darryl Roberts (ankle), C Ryan Kalil (shoulder), DT Steve McLendon (hamstring) and OG Brian Winters (knee, shoulder) were limited during practice. LB Blake Cashman (ankle), WR Josh Bellamy (shoulder), LB Brandon Copeland (thumb), S Blake Countess (hamstring), TE Ryan Griffin (ankle), LB Jordan Jenkins (ankle), DE Trumaine Johnson (thigh), DT Quinnen Williams (ankle) and LB Tarell Basham (heel) fully participated in practice.
Indianapolis Colts WR Parris Campbell (abdominal), DL Tyquan Lewis (ankle) and CB Kenny Moore II (ankle) did not practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 7 versus the Houston Texans. S Malik Hooker (knee) was upgraded to a full practice Friday, Oct. 18, but is listed as doubtful. CB Pierre Desir (hamstring) and DE Justin Houston (calf) remained out of practice and are listed as questionable. OG Quenton Nelson (hip) was added to the injury report Friday and is also listed as questionable. S Clayton Geathers (rest), DL Denico Autry (rest), OT Anthony Castonzo (rest), WR T.Y. Hilton (rest) and DE Jabaal Sheard (rest) did not practice Friday but have been removed from the injury report. LB Zaire Franklin (hamstring) and TE Eric Ebron (illness) logged a full practice Friday and also no longer appear on the injury report.
Dallas Cowboys WR Randall Cobb (back) was limited during practice Friday, Oct. 18, and is listed as questionable for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Cobb's status for Week 7 is still uncertain, so fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his official status. He has posted decent numbers this season but can be benched if better options are available.
Atlanta Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley has been put on the trade block with the deadline approaching, according to a league source. The former first-round pick is making $12.8 million this year and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The 27-year-old had a career-high 15.5 sacks in 2016 but had a combined 10 sacks the following two seasons as the Falcons moved him around. He has 12 total tackles and 1.5 sacks through six games in 2019. He's off the IDP radar for now, but he could become more attractive if he lands in the right spot.
Arizona Cardinals DL Zach Allen (neck), OL Brett Toth (illness) and RB D.J. Foster (hamstring) did not practice Friday, Oct. 18, and have been ruled out for Week 7 against the New York Giants. RB David Johnson (ankle), DL Zachariah Kerr (ankle), LB Zeke Turner (hamstring), TE Maxx Williams (ankle), LB Dennis Gardeck (ankle), WR Christian Kirk (ankle), P Andy Lee (hip) and S Charles Washington (shoulder) were limited Friday and are listed as questionable. OL Joshua Miles (illness) was added to the injury report Friday and is also listed as questionable. LB Terrell Suggs (non-injury) did not practice Friday but no longer appears on the injury report. S Chris Banjo (illness), WR Larry Fitzgerald (non-injury) and DL Corey Peters (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday and have also been removed from the injury report.