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Saturday, December 21, 2013
Morning Links: Allen 4th in rookie rankings

By Eric D. Williams

SAN DIEGO – Good morning. In this ESPN Insider pieceInsider, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has San Diego Chargers receiver Keenan Allen at No. 4 in his rookie rankings after another impressive week against Denver. Allen’s teammate D.J. Fluker comes in at No. 22.

Kiper: “You really can't overstate Allen’s value within this offense, and maybe even in how Philip Rivers has really regained his status as one of the best quarterbacks in the league after a down 2012. Consider that Antonio Gates has 70 catches, Danny Woodhead has 66, and Allen has 63, to lead all receivers on the team. That mixture of targets really covers all three levels, and also spans the field from sideline to sideline. Allen's reliability and great hands have rounded out this receiving corps and made the Chargers a lot tougher to defend.”

Allen was named Rookie of the Week for the third time this season.

According to Football Outsiders, San Diego center Nick Hardwick hasn’t given up a sack in 857 snaps.

Scott Hansen of Pro Football Focus provides three things to focus on for the Chargers-Raiders matchup – Allen vs. Oakland’s corners, Rashad Jennings vs. San Diego’s run defense and King Dunlap vs. Lamarr Houston.

The guys from NFL playbook break down San Diego’s improved play in the secondary, along with the offensive line creating lanes for Ryan Mathews in the run game. Check out the video.

Ricky Henne of Chargers.com gives us his keys to the Chargers-Raiders contest.

Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego talks with defensive lineman Corey Liuget, who gives his performance this season a B to C-plus grade.

Annie Heilbrunn, working for NBC San Diego, takes us behind the scenes with Nick Hardwick, wife Jayme and sons Hudson and Theodore.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland calculates NFL teams with the best home-field advantage for the past decade. It’s not a shocker that Seattle tops the list. But Baltimore is a surprise at No. 2. The Chargers are No. 19 on the list.