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NFL Preview - Carolina (4-9) at San Diego (5-8)



By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - You won't blame Norv Turner if he's wondering where it had been.

With a 10-point win in Pittsburgh last week that both ended a four-game losing streak and kept alive a fleeting hope for a 2012 playoff spot, the San Diego Chargers showed a glimpse of what many expected them to be throughout Turner's sixth season on the sidelines.

Instead, it'll probably take another late-season run to .500 -- and perhaps some conveniently compromising photos of his bosses -- to see that Turner maintains his job title beyond the end of December. Still, the veteran coach insists he's OK with that.

"That's not the thing that's on my mind," he said, in the midst of preparation for Sunday's game with the visiting Carolina Panthers. "We're trying to get ready for Carolina and trying to build on what we did last week. That's where I'm at."

The Chargers, who haven't fallen below .500 since 2003, won four of their final five games last season just to finish the season at even money. Still, they haven't made the playoffs since 2009 and Turner has said he expected it would take nothing short of a postseason appearance to save his gig.

In six seasons in San Diego, he is 54-39. The Chargers will finish the schedule with the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders. They're barely alive in the playoff race, though a Cincinnati win against 4-9 Philadelphia this week or a loss in any of their own final three will end the dream.

"It's been there, it's just about execution," said San Diego running back Ronnie Brown, whose team possessed the ball for more than 36 minutes, committed no turnovers and converted 12 of 22 third-down chances against the Steelers.

"You know, like we've been saying all season, when we execute, when we do it the way we're capable of doing it, the results are usually good. But unfortunately, we haven't been able to be consistent and do it for four quarters throughout the whole season."

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw three touchdowns and was sacked just once in the defeat of Pittsburgh -- San Diego's first regular season win in the Steel City in franchise history. He connected with free agent receiver Danario Alexander seven times for 88 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers, lifting the surprise wideout's totals to 30 catches, 494 yards and five TDs in the last five games.

On the other side, frustrating has been a familiar name of the game for the Panthers, too.

Carolina won six times in quarterback Cam Newton's record-setting rookie season in 2011, but its 4-9 mark this year is tied for the worst in the NFC -- in spite of seven losses by a touchdown or less.

Newton and Co. bared their claws for a 10-point defeat of conference front- runner Atlanta last week at home, churning a season-best 475 total yards against a team that had already clinched the NFC South championship and had dropped only one of its initial 12 games.

"The disappointing thing is that's what we can be," coach Ron Rivera said. "We know that. Based on what we did, how we did it and who we did it with, that's the disappointing thing. We've found some balance, we have. Unfortunately, we didn't do it sooner."

Rivera was an assistant to Turner in San Diego from 2007 to 2010 before taking over the Panthers.

Carolina has averaged 397.3 yards per game in its last four games while Newton has compiled 1,363 yards of offense and 11 touchdowns. In his initial seven games, the second-year man contributed just eight scores and committed 11 turnovers.

Newton ran for a career-high 116 yards against the Falcons, including a 72- yard TD.

"The way he played and the things that he did, that shows you what potentially he is going to become," Rivera said. "We just have to keep working and he has to keep growing as a football player. These last five weeks now have been pretty doggone solid. I'm very pleased with his development."

Carolina leads the all-time series, 3-1, including a 26-24 win in San Diego when the teams last played in September 2008. In that game, Panthers tight end Donte Rosario caught the decisive TD pass as time expired. Turner is 6-1 against the Panthers, while Rivera has never faced the Chargers.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Because Newton is one of the new breed -- and perhaps the most dangerous -- of athletic quarterbacks, the responsibility for drawing up a scheme to deal with him falls on San Diego defensive coordinator John Pagano.

And whether his ultimate idea takes the form of a one-man spy or a multiple- man stacked box, the objective will be to keep the Carolina quarterback from going off early. The least palatable option is him running all over the field. Instead, the Chargers would prefer their chances if he's forced to operate as a traditional passer from the pocket.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Though neither team is likely to ultimately be where it wanted to be to wrap up the 2012 season, the perception exists that the Panthers have more to play for -- and more to prove -- down the stretch than the Chargers. It won't be easy taking the act across the country after a big home win over a division rival, but it says here that Newton finds a way to be this game's most important weapon.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Panthers 24, Chargers 21

12/13 12:44:07 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
 
4:00pm Today
LOU
UNC
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
7:00pm Tonight
UVA
DUKE
7:00pm Tonight
ETST
NCCU
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
CHA
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
DAL
7:00pm Tonight
IND
SAC
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
TOR
7:30pm Tonight
DET
HOU
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
PHI
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
CLE
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
OKC
8:30pm Tonight
MIL
POR
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
CHA
9:00pm Tonight
SAN
LAC
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
PHO
Final
TENN 71
AUB 63
Final
CLEM 64
BC 49
Final
STJOE 75
DAVID 70
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
 
Final
PITT 76
ND 72
Final
STJ 75
PROV 66
Final
UNH 63
USB 48
 
Final
WVU 77
TTU 58
Final
TEMPL 55
TULA 37
Final
EMICH 69
WMICH 63
 
Final
IOWA 63
WISC 74
Final
SHU 90
XAV 82
Final
UF 57
ARK 56
Final
STET 75
LIP 73
 
Final
ILL 60
PSU 58
Final
TULSA 78
SFLA 71
 
Final
INDST 64
BRAD 58
 
Final
MAINE 59
GTDNS 77
 
2nd
LEH 87
BU 84
 
1st OT
MARQ 60
BUT 62
 
2nd
DEL 67
COC 61
 
Final
CREI 40
GEOR 67
 
Final
CLST 76
UWGB 62
 
Final
NEOM 65
MAST 75
 
2nd
LOYC 45
ILLST 46
 
Final
KU 68
KYST 57
 
Final
JVU 50
KNST 51
 
2nd
MSST 69
LSU 65
 
Final
SHU 71
MNTER 77
 
2nd
VCU 52
RICH 60
 
Final
ISU 83
TCU 66
 
Final
BING 76
MLOWELL 69
 
Final
HART 46
VERM 65
 
2nd
DEP 52
VILL 60
 
2nd
WAKE 69
VT 67
 
2nd
UGST 74
ARKST 43
 
1st
FAM 12
COOK 19
 
2nd
NDAK 37
IDST 26
 
Half
ARMY 24
GHND 21
 
Half
BEL 37
TENT 30
 
Half
TXSA 29
UAB 33
 
Half
ILLCH 25
VALPO 39
 
Half
DRAK 29
EVAN 27
 
Half
IND 32
RUTG 30
 
1st
UMO 27
BST 31
 
4:00pm Today
RMU
BRY
 
1st
WAGN 11
CCST 6
 
1st
GWEBB 0
CCAR 0
 
4:00pm Today
MDES
COPST
 
1st
RFLSH 2
FD 0
 
1st
RIU 0
GWU 0
 
4:00pm Today
SCAR
UGA
4:00pm Today
Terriers
LIU
 
1st
PAC 0
LMU 0
 
1st
STLU 4
UMASS 3
 
4:00pm Today
HOW
MRGST
 
1st
DREX 3
UNCW 2
 
4:00pm Today
LOU
UNC
1st
MIZZ 4
MISS 2
 
4:00pm Today
ALCOR
SOUTH
 
1st
NIOWA 2
WICHS 5
 
1st
JMU 3
WMARY 7
 
4:00pm Today
RAD
WINT
 
4:15pm Today
EILL
SIUE
 
4:30pm Today
UNCA
CAMP
 
4:30pm Today
MORE
EKENT
 
4:30pm Today
NICST
INCWORD
 
4:30pm Today
CMICH
OHIO
 
4:30pm Today
TEXAM
VANDY
5:00pm Tonight
UWMIL
DET
 
5:00pm Tonight
LAMON
SALA
 
5:00pm Tonight
UNCG
WCU
 
5:05pm Tonight
EWASH
IDAHO
 
5:30pm Tonight
SDKST
DEN
 
5:30pm Tonight
SHSU
HOUB
 
5:30pm Tonight
MVSU
JST
 
5:30pm Tonight
TXST
LALAF
 
5:30pm Tonight
LATU
MARS
5:30pm Tonight
SD
ORU
 
6:00pm Tonight
PVU
ALAAM
 
6:00pm Tonight
GRAM
ARKPB
 
6:00pm Tonight
PRIN
DART
 
6:00pm Tonight
SCST
DELST
 
6:00pm Tonight
COLST
FRES
6:00pm Tonight
NORST
HAMP
 
6:00pm Tonight
MINN
NEB
6:00pm Tonight
WYO
NEV
6:00pm Tonight
SAV
NCAT
 
6:00pm Tonight
GAELS
PEPP
 
6:00pm Tonight
NW
PURD
6:00pm Tonight
BAY
TEX
6:00pm Tonight
CHAT
CITA
 
6:00pm Tonight
SMISS
WKENT
6:00pm Tonight
CORN
YALE
 
7:00pm Tonight
LAM
ABCHRIST
 
7:00pm Tonight
BGU
AKR
 
7:00pm Tonight
KENT
ALA
7:00pm Tonight
CLMB
BRO
 
7:00pm Tonight
LIB
CSOU
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUCK
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
UVA
DUKE
7:00pm Tonight
NE
ELON
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHAR
FIU
7:00pm Tonight
ODU
FATL
7:00pm Tonight
SAMF
FUR
 
7:00pm Tonight
DUQ
GMAS
7:00pm Tonight
PENN
HARV
 
7:00pm Tonight
LBSU
HAW
 
7:00pm Tonight
BONA
LAS
7:00pm Tonight
NAVY
LAF
 
7:00pm Tonight
PBY
LONG
 
7:00pm Tonight
WOFF
MERC
 
7:00pm Tonight
ETST
NCCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
MCNST
NO
 
7:00pm Tonight
FLGC
NKENTUCKY
 
7:00pm Tonight
IONA
PETE
 
7:00pm Tonight
STEPH
TAMCC
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNF
USCU
 
7:30pm Tonight
GSOUT
ARKLR
 
8:00pm Tonight
UCR
CSNO
 
8:00pm Tonight
SELA
NWST
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKST
OKLA
8:00pm Tonight
UNT
RICE
8:00pm Tonight
SDU
USF
 
8:00pm Tonight
NMU
SJST
8:00pm Tonight
PEAY
SEMIZ
 
8:00pm Tonight
NILL
TOL
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOF
TOWS
 
8:00pm Tonight
SMU
UCF
8:00pm Tonight
MURST
TENNM
 
8:00pm Tonight
SDST
UTST
8:05pm Tonight
MIZST
SILL
 
8:15pm Tonight
TXARL
TROY
 
8:30pm Tonight
TXSOU
ALAST
 
8:30pm Tonight
TENST
JVST
 
8:30pm Tonight
WASU
STAN
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
CHIST
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
MTST
9:00pm Tonight
SUTAH
NARZ
 
9:00pm Tonight
BYU
SCU
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
TXPA
 
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
WEBER
 
10:00pm Tonight
UNLV
AFA
10:00pm Tonight
UCD
CPSL
 
10:00pm Tonight
GONZ
MEM
10:00pm Tonight
CALST
SEAT
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCI
UCSB
 
10:05pm Tonight
SACST
MONT
 
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
MNTST
 
10:30pm Tonight
UCLA
COL
10:30pm Tonight
WLVRN
UMKC
 
3rd
DET 3
NYI 1
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
7:00pm Tonight
WIN
DAL
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
FLA
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
LOS
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
TOR
7:30pm Tonight
TAM
CLB
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
EDM
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
CHI