Sunday will be a difficult day for both Ron Rivera and Norv Turner. Both are in danger of getting fired in a matter of weeks -- and whichever man loses this Carolina-San Diego matchup is probably in even more danger.
Rivera served as defensive coordinator under Turner at San Diego from 2008-10, and he now employs Turner's son Scott on his own staff. Rivera and Turner remain close friends, and Rivera has had something of a San Diego-to-Carolina player pipeline during his two years in Charlotte (it has produced only mixed results).
The record similarities (4-9 for Carolina, 5-8 for San Diego) are obvious for two teams that were supposed to be playoff contenders. What's also unusual is that each team might have played its best game of the year last week (Carolina beating Atlanta and San Diego beating Pittsburgh).
Turner's biggest problem this season has been with the NFC South. The Chargers are 5-5 against the AFC, but have gone 0-3 against Atlanta, Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Rivera's biggest problem has been an uncanny ability to lose games decided by seven points or less (the Panthers are 0-7 in those games).
It's possible that both men will be gone no matter what happens Sunday, of course. But either way, it's not going to easy for either one of them.
-- Although the Chargers will give up some points, their defense is very opportunistic. The Chargers have seven defensive scores this season, tied with Chicago for the most in the NFL.
-- The last time the Panthers played in San Diego was the opening game of the 2008 season, when Jake Delhomme threw an end-zone dart to tight end Dante Rosario as time expired for a 26-24 win that began Carolina's last playoff season. Do you know who Rosario plays for now? The Chargers.
-- Philip Rivers does a lot of things well, but one that the former N.C. State quarterback doesn't get enough credit for is simply showing up every week. Rivers will start his 110th straight game against Carolina -- the second-longest starting streak among active quarterbacks (the New York Giants' Eli Manning is at 132). Carolina's Cam Newton (who will make his 30th straight start Sunday) would need to start every Panther game until late in the 2017 season to get to 110.
-- Don't put much stock in my prediction (I can hear you saying, 'Don't worry, we won't.') This has been one of the hardest Panther teams to predict week to week, and I missed them again last week when they upset Atlanta. My record on the year picking Carolina: 6-7. My pick Sunday: San Diego 33, Carolina 27.
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