Cincinnati LB Vontaze Burfict vs. San Diego RB Ryan Mathews
The Chargers are 8-1 when Mathews rushes for more than 61 yards. Even though Philip Rivers ranks third in the NFL in passer rating and fifth in passing yards, San Diego needs to get something out of its running game to have a chance of pulling the upset at Paul Brown Stadium.
“You think back to when L.T. (LaDainian Tomlinson) was here, and the more balance we’ve had, the better our offense has performed,” Rivers said. “Maybe that’s a common sense statement, but this year, we’ve had great balance.”
Ironically, Burfict said the key to stopping Mathews and the Chargers is to keep them balanced.
“We can’t make them one dimensional because if Rivers starts back there throwing it then you can be in trouble, and if Mathews starts running it you can be in trouble,” Burfict said. “We’ve just got to keep them balanced and send pressure and let them know that we’re always going to be back there.”
Mathews certainly was aware of Burfict in the first game. Burfict had 13 tackles in that game, and seven were against Mathews on either rushes or receptions.
But Mathews has played as well since that game as he has played all season. He is coming off a season-high 144-yard performance against Kansas City, and he has rushed for at least 99 yards in each of the the last four games, all wins.