Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict celebrates after the Bengals sacked Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
BEATING THE BENGALS
The Chargers snapped a three-game losing streak Sunday with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now comes the battle to stay out of the dreaded "L" column.
"We’ve had to handle the lows three weeks in a row," said quarterback Philip Rivers. "Now we have to handle a high and all of a sudden not think that [last win] was easy, because that was hard. It was hard to go find a way to win that game. I think realizing that and having the same approach this week will give us the best chance to win two in a row.”
That second win would come at the expense of the 7-4 Cincinnati Bengals, who the Chargers will face Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium. At 5-6, San Diego remains in the hunt for a wild card spot.
"Every week, when you're about to play someone or you see something and it's fresh on your mind, there are times you may exaggerate a little bit, but I don't intend to here: This is a heck of a group," Rivers said. "There's a lot of good players on defense. I know it's a well-coached defense. They know their scheme and they run it well. This group is tough."
Added head coach Mike McCoy: "Marvin Lewis has done a great job as a head coach there. Defensively, they have always been a team that creates turnovers and gets after the quarterback. Offensively, they have some very explosive players."
One of those explosive players is wide receiver A.J. Green, who had five 100-yard receiving games in a row this season.
"Great players in this league are going to make their fair share of plays," McCoy said. "You have to neutralize them as much as you can. We played against some great players already this year and you just have to keep them in that box as much as you can. You have to compete your tail off every play and when the ball is thrown, keep the ball in front of you. Don't give-up big plays."
SPEAKING OF GIVING UP BIG PLAYS …
After another sub-par performance against the Chiefs -- (particularly by cornerback Derek Cox) -- the San Diego defensive backs are officially in competition for starting spots.
“We’re taking it as the week goes right now," said defensive coordinator John Pagano. "We’ve got a nice little competition going right now back there and how it shapes out at the end of the week and how we see it as a staff, you’ll see who comes out."
It's business as usual, players said.
"It's the same preparation we've had the last 10 weeks, 11 weeks," said safety Jahleel Addae. "Every day, as a professional, you compete."
It's fair to say Cox's job is in jeapordy, after being outplayed and outrun by the opposing team too often this season.
"We have to get him better as a coaching staff," Pagano said. "There are two things. Us as coaches, we’ve got to get him to do things right and then secondly, they’ve got to go out and they’ve got to play, execute and compete."
HOME SWEET HOME
The Chargers play four of their next five games at home, and the return couldn't be more welcome.
"Home games are definitely huge, especially at this point in the season when people are getting burned out and you never know what type of fatigue factors are happening on your team or the team you're facing," said outside linebacker Thomas Keiser. "Not having to travel, especially being a West Coast team, is nice."
Philip Rivers is having one heck of a season.
Through 11 games, he's completed 281 of 397 passes for 3,381 yards. He's racked up 22 touchdowns and a 106.6 passer rating.
So … Is there any satisfaction to his success, considering pre-season talk revolved around his undoing?
"There is, I think, from a consistency standpoint more than anything," Rivers said. "Not trying to convince anyone, but over the last few years, there's been too much bad -- the bad was bad -- but there were a lot of stretches of good. We just weren't consistent enough. I think that's the thing that I always knew. We didn't forget. I didn't forget how to throw. We didn't forget how to score. We just knew we had to do them more consistently."
San Diego ranks fourth in the NFL in passing yards and third in third down percentage.
"We haven't turned it over very much," Rivers said. "We're converting third downs, which I know for a stretch when we were going good in the past, we were up there high in the league in third down conversions and we are again. We're scoring points."
Tight end Antonio Gates (hamstring), running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring), left tackle King Dunlap (neck) and safety Darrell Stuckey (concussion) did not practice Wednesday. Center Nick Hardwick was given a rest day.