Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9.
Rivers-Manning I: When does a San Diego crowd treat an opposing quarterback worse than a New York crowd would? When he spurns them. There is little chance Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will be booed Sunday like Giants quarterback Eli Manning was booed when he played in San Diego in 2005. Rivers will likely just get the usual treatment an opposing star gets from Giants fans. New York doesn’t hold anything against Rivers. It was Manning’s reluctance to play in San Diego that spurred the draft-day trade in 2004 that sent Manning to New York and Rivers to San Diego. Manning was the No. 1 overall pick and Rivers was the No.4 pick. Manning has been a public enemy in San Diego since, while Rivers has grown into the face of the franchise. This will be the first time in the NFL these two players started against each other.
Run Jamaal, run: The Chiefs are just looking for a reason to lessen Larry Johnson’s load. Jamaal Charles could be the reason. Charles will likely get several carries Sunday in Jacksonville while Johnson sits out during a one-game team suspension. Charles played well in the Chiefs’ last game, Oct. 25 against San Diego. The second-year player is a speedster who is intriguing. With Johnson’s situation tenuous, Charles could increase his work load the rest of the season with a good performance Sunday.
Can Chargers benefit from the curse of Antonio Pierce? Ever since Pierce blasted the Raiders, the Giants have been awful. Call it the Curse of Pierce. The Chargers are hoping it lasts another week. The Giants have lost three straight games, twice by more than 20 points, since beating Oakland 44-7. After that game, Pierce said playing the Raiders was like playing a “scrimmage,” and he was amazed by how listless Oakland’s players were. The words offended several Oakland players and the Giants haven’t won since.
Tough test for Denver tackle: Denver right tackle Tyler Polumbus will make his first start Monday night against Pittsburgh. His first challenge: LaMarr Woodley, who had 11.5 sacks last season. Polumbus probably also will see some of reigning NFL defensive player of the year James Harrison. Good luck, kid. Polumbus got a taste of life in the NFL last week when he subbed for the injured Ryan Harris. Polumbus had to deal with Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs, and did decently. Polumbus could be in the lineup for three weeks.
Tough stretch for San Diego begins: The Chargers got back on the winning track with wins over lackluster Kansas City and Oakland teams to improve to 4-3. Now, life gets a little tougher as the Chargers start a stretch in which they play at New York, host Philadelphia and then at Denver. If the Chargers are going to get back in the AFC West race (Denver leads San Diego by two games), they will have to play well during this stretch.