Extra Points: Rivers is rolling in San Diego

(SportsNetwork.com) – Quarterbacks generally understand the job description.

Those who play perhaps the most important position in all of sports realize
when things are going good, they’ll be getting plenty of accolades but if a
season goes off the rails, the detractors will be coming for them with torches
and pitchforks at the ready.

The standard for measuring true greatness at the quarterback position has
always been and will likely always be the Lombardi Trophy. In fact, multiple
Super Bowl rings are necessary to even be allowed in the G.O.A.T (Greatest of
All-Time) discussion.

Those who really understand the game, however, realize that’s an unfair and
even nebulous standard, blindly dismissive of the 52 other men that will line
up with this year’s Super Bowl winner.

Years from now everyone will remember Russell Wilson winning Super Bowl XLVIII
but Malcolm Smith and Percy Harvin will recede into history as footnotes to
just about everyone other than Wilson, their other teammates and the people of

The true measure of greatness at the quarterback position should be
consistency from week to week and the ability to put your team in a position
to win no matter the hurdles you may be facing on a particular Sunday.

And that’s why the best signal caller from the famed 2004 NFL Draft class
isn’t Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger, who both possess two Super Bowl
championships, it’s Philip Rivers.

It’s not like people don’t know about Rivers. He’s a five-time Pro Bowl
selection and the 2013 Comeback Player of the Year but to the lazy critics, he
doesn’t belong in the conversation with Manning or Roethlisberger because he’s
never reached football’s grandest stage, never mind performed at a high level
on it.

The fact that Manning’s resume would read far different if David Tyree’s
helmet catch didn’t exist or Asante Samuel snared an easy interception is
inconsequential, as is the reality that Roethlisberger played perhaps his
worst game as a professional in one of his Super Bowl wins.

That has all receded into the shadows just like Smith’s and Harvin’s
contributions to the Seahawks big win last February eventually will.

Rivers, on the other hand, has been very good for a very long time and he’s
not only left his contemporaries — Manning and Roethlisberger — in the dust,
he’s been playing every bit as well as Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew
Luck or anyone else you want to call elite.

Rivers’ San Diego Chargers currently sit atop the AFC standings with a 5-1
record, which is tied for the best mark in all of football with NFC East
powerhouses Dallas and Philadelphia.

An opening week late-game implosion in Arizona has been rectified with five
straight wins by the Bolts, including last weekend’s come from behind win on
the road against Oakland.

Trailing by a touchdown, Rivers orchestrated two fourth-quarter scoring drives
to seal a 31-28 victory, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by undrafted
rookie running back Branden Oliver.

Rivers completed 22-of-34 passes against the Raiders for 313 yards with three
touchdowns and no interceptions, recording a 123.8 passer rating, the fifth
consecutive time that the North Carolina State product hit the 120.0 barrier.

Only Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (four in 1965) and potential future Canton
inductee Kurt Warner (four in 2009) had ever reached that 120.0 measuring
stick in four consecutive games before.

“There are small, different stats that obviously someone’s kept for a long
time, and they are meaningful,” said Rivers. “When you know you were tied with
Unitas and Warner, what it says is that we’ve had a great stretch.”

History now says it’s the greatest pure passing stretch in NFL lore despite
the fact that Rivers is now working behind his fourth different center due to
injury and his top three running backs — Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and
Donald Brown — are all currently sidelined.

And it’s not like Rivers’ personal numbers haven’t translated into team
success. The Chargers are perfect during his current run and have outscored
opponents by an average of 14.8 points per game during the span (147-73).

Rivers, meanwhile, has tossed 14 touchdowns during the five games versus just
one interception and his effort against the Raiders was the low-water mark for
completion percentage, having never dipped below 71.0 percent in the four
other tests.

“I think it speaks to the guys catching the football, the guys protecting and
the whole group,” he said. “If the quarterback has a passer rating that high,
that means everyone’s doing something really well.”

Since head coach Mike McCoy arrived in San Diego in 2013, Rivers is leading
the league in completion percentage at 69.4 percent and is second to five-time
MVP Peyton Manning in passer rating at 108.7.

Through six games this season, Rivers leads the NFL in passer rating (117.6),
completion percentage (69.3 percent) and average gain per attempt (8.82 yards
per attempt), an indication he is no “Charlie Checkdown” and pushes the
football down the field as often as possible.

In fact, Rivers has already led the NFL in average gain in three previous
seasons (2008-10), and is now attempting to join two more Hall of Famers —
Sid Luckman (seven) and Steve Young (five) — as the only QBs to lead the
league in average gain in at least four different seasons.

The LinkedIn profile may not begin with Super Bowl championship just yet but
it sure can highlight consistency. Rivers has been doing it as well as anyone
for many years and it’s time to recognize that.

“The thing that makes Philip Rivers so good is his ability to recognize what
the defense is doing and really put his team in the best possible play,” NFL
Network analyst and former Chargers star LaDainian Tomlinson said. “Even in
his 11th year, he’s still getting better in terms of learning defensive
concepts. He’s playing better than I’ve ever seen him play.”

WEEK 7 (All Times Eastern)

New York Jets (1-5) at New England (4-2) (-9 1/2), Thursday, 8:30 p.m. – Short
weeks have always been kind to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Brady has compiled
a 6-0 record as a starting quarterback on Thursday games since 2002, including
a 2-0 mark against the Jets. His 1,700 passing yards on short weeks rank third
in the AFC and his 13 touchdown passes are second in the conference during
that span. Brady has also passed for at least two touchdowns in four of his
six Thursday starts.

Patriots 27, Jets 17

Carolina (3-2-1) at Green Bay (4-2) (-7), Sunday, 1 p.m. – The Panthers enter
Week 7 in first place in the weak NFC South despite a 37-37 tie in Cincinnati
last weekend, the highest-scoring tie game since 1964 when the Boston Patriots
and Oakland Raiders deadlocked at 43. Carolina QB Cam Newton passed for 284
yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 107 yards with a score versus the
Bengals and is the only player in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards,
two touchdown passes, 100 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in a single
game, having done it twice. The Packers will be searching for their fourth
straight win behind Aaron Rodgers, who played in his 100th career game in Week
6, a 27-24 comeback win at Miami. A-Rod has 203 TD passes, the second-most
ever by a player in his first 100 games, trailing only ex-Dolphin star Dan
Marino (217).

Packers 31, Panthers 20

Cincinnati (3-1-1) at Indianapolis (4-3) (-3), Sunday, 1 p.m. – The Bengals
remain in first place in the AFC North despite a loss and a tie in
their last two games. Running back Giovani Bernard rushed for a career-high
137 yards, including an 89-yard touchdown run, against Carolina in Week 6. The
Colts have won four in a row after an 0-2 start and sit atop the AFC South.
Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck will be aiming for his fifth straight game of
300-0r-more passing yards.

Colts 33, Bengals 30

Atlanta (2-4) at Baltimore (4-2) (-7), Sunday, 1 p.m. – Ravens QB Joe Flacco
comes in red hot, throwing five TD passes in just 16:03 of game time during a
win at Tampa Bay last weekend, become the fastest player to reach mark since
the 1970 merger and the first with four TDs in the first quarter since 1986
when Minnesota’s Tommy Kramer did it. The Falcons have dropped three in a row,
allowing 32.7 points per game over that span.

Ravens 33, Falcons 20

Minnesota (2-4) at Buffalo (3-3) (-5), Sunday, 1 p.m. – The Vikings will have
a rookie QB in Teddy Bridgewater making his first road start behind one of the
NFL’s worst offensive lines, which allowed eight sacks in a loss to Detroit in
Week 6. In his first two starts with the Bills, veteran QB Kyle Orton has
completed 54-of-81 passes for 607 yards with three TDs for 90.9 passer rating.

Bills 21, Vikings 13

Miami (2-3) at Chicago (3-3) (-3), Sunday, 1 p.m. – Bears signal caller Jay
Cutler has won nine of his past 11 starts against AFC foes and is currently
second in the NFC with 13 TD passes. On the defensive side for Chicago rookie
corner Kyle Fuller is the only player in the NFL with three interceptions and
three forced fumbles. The Dolphins will look to Cameron Wake, who has 10 sacks
in his past eight games against NFC clubs, to try to slow down Cutler.

Bears 27, Dolphins 16

New Orleans (2-3) at Detroit (4-2) (-3), Sunday, 1 p.m. – Detroit has the
NFL’s No. 1 ranked defense, allowing just 270.7 yards per game, while the
Saints will counter with Drew Brees, who is 4-0 against the Lions in his
career, and the NFC’s top-ranked offense, piling up 442.8 YPG. The problem for
New Orleans, however, has been turnovers as the club will arrive in the Motor
City with a minus-8 ratio.

Saints 23, Lions 21

Cleveland (3-2) (-5 1/2) at Jacksonville (0-6), Sunday, 1 p.m. – The sample
size is still small but it’s getting bigger. Brian Hoyer is now 6-2 as the
Browns’ starting QB with 1,839 passing yards and 12 TDs versus four
interceptions with a 92.9 rating. The winless Jags continue to build around
rookie QB Blake Bortles, who passed for a career-high 336 yards in a loss to
Tennessee in Week 6.

Browns 26, Jaguars 17

Seattle (3-2) (-6 1/2) at St. Louis (1-4), Sunday, 1 p.m. – The Seahawks are
coming off a rare home loss and facing an inexperienced QB in Austin Davis.
Seattle signal caller Russell Wilson, the only QB in NFL history with a 100-
plus passer rating in both his rookie and second seasons, has won his past
three starts against the Rams. Davis, meanwhile, has 938 passing yards
(312.7 per game) in his last three games.

Seahawks 34, Rams 13

Tennessee (2-4) at Washington (1-5) (-6) , Sunday, 1 p.m. – Redskins QB Kirk
Cousins is now leading the NFL with eight interceptions but coach Jay Gruden
is not considering a move to third-stringer Colt McCoy as original starter
Robert Griffin III continues his rehab from a dislocated ankle. The Titans are
waiting for the oft-injured signal caller Jake Locker, who has already missed
two starts and a significant portion of a third game this season.

Redskins 21, Titans 17

Kansas City (2-3) at San Diego (5-1) (-4), Sunday, 4:05 p.m. – If Kansas City
wants to compete in the NFC West, this is a game it has to have and head coach
Andy Reid generally has his team prepared coming out of a bye week. Reid is
13-2 in his career after the bye week. The Chargers are tied for the NFL’s
best record thanks to the unprecedented run of Philip Rivers.

Chargers 27, Chiefs 26

New York Giants (3-3) at Dallas (5-1) (-6), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. – The Cowboys
have won five straight games and are 5-1 to start a season for the first time
since 2007 thanks in large part to DeMarco Murray, who leads the NFL with 785
rushing yards and six rush TDs. Murray has also surpassed the 100-yard mark
in all six games, joining Hall of Famer Jim Brown (1958) as only players with
100-or-more rushing yards in a team’s first six contests. The Giants are
coming off their worst performance of the season, a shutout loss at
Philadelphia, and will lean on Eli Manning, who is 4-1 during his career at
AT&T Stadium.

Cowboys 24, Giants 13

Arizona (4-1) (-3 1/2) at Oakland (0-5), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. – Carson Palmer
returns to Oakland where he spent two seasons before being traded to the
Cardinals. Palmer is 5-0 against AFC foes since taking over the top job in
Arizona. The Raiders are winless under rookie starter Derek Carr, who does
lead all freshman in passing yards with 1,016 and TDs with eight.

Cardinals 27, Raiders 14

San Francisco (4-2) at Denver (4-1) (- 6 1/2), Sunday 8:30 p.m. – The 49ers
will be playing in their second consecutive primetime game. San Francisco
defeated St. Louis 31-17 on “Monday Night Football” as Colin Kaepernick (343
passing yards, three touchdowns) became the first Niners quarterback to pass
for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns since Steve Young in September of
1998. At 4-1, the Broncos trail only San Diego (5-1) in the AFC and Peyton
Manning has 506 career touchdown passes and needs three to pass Brett Favre
(508) for the most in NFL history.

“I don’t know if any of these records are big for me, especially in the middle
of the season,” said Manning. “We’re playing a tough schedule, we’ve got the
49ers at home and they’ve been one of the dominant teams of the past couple
years. That’s all I’m thinking about.”

Broncos 24, 49ers 17

Houston (3-3) at Pittsburgh (3-3) (-3 1/2), Monday, 8:30 p.m. – Both the
Texans and Steelers enter Week 7 at .500. Houston has been the J.J. Watt show
this season and he is the only player in the past 50 years to score a
touchdown via a fumble return, an interception return and a reception in a
single season. Pittsburgh is riding improved second-year running back running
back Le’Veon Bell, who leads the AFC in rushing (542) and scrimmage yards

Texans 23, Steelers 16