Panthers at Chargers -- Week 15 

Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego (grass, outdoors)

When: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox, blacked out locally)

Spread: Chargers by 3

Forecast: Scattered showers with a temperature in the high 50s.

Records: Panthers (4-9, AFC South 2-3); Chargers (5-8, AFC West 3-2)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Sept. 7, 2008: Panthers 26, Chargers 28; Oct. 24, 2004: Chargers 17, Panthers 6. Series record: The Panthers lead the all-time series 3-1.

What matters: Rumors continue to spread about the futures of both organizations. Chargers coach Norv Turner and Panthers coach Ron Rivera could lose their jobs at the end of the season. San Diego is on the verge of being eliminated from the playoffs, while Carolina is already out of postseason contention. Both teams are coming off convincing wins against good opponents and will be looking to carry that momentum through the end of the season.

Who matters: Panthers QB Cam Newton is a weapon through the air and on the ground. Newton has completed 227 of 390 passes for 3,220 yards with 16 TDs and 10 INTs. He has also carried the ball 104 times for 640 yards, including a career-long 72-yard TD last Sunday against the Falcons (11-2). “In a lot of ways we are playing a very similar position and in a lot of ways he is playing the game totally different than I am,” QB Philip Rivers said. “He’s a heck of a player. He can do it all.”  WR Steve Smith comes into Sunday’s game just one yard shy of his seventh career 1,000 yard season. TE Greg Olsen leads Carolina with seven TDs on 54 catches for 691 yards. Chargers WR Danario Alexander had seven receptions for 88 yards and two TDs against the Steelers last Sunday. Alexander now has 555 receiving yards and 5 TDs since his first game with the Chargers in Week 8.

Key matchups: Chargers D-line vs. Panthers run game: Carolina has averaged 119.1 yards per game on the ground (ranked 12th). San Diego has only allowed an average of 92.5 yards per game on the ground (ranked 3rd). However, DE Vaughn Martin (groin) was placed on the season ending reserved-injured list on Wednesday. Martin was the team’s second-leading tackler on the defensive line with 27 tackles for the year. The Chargers D-line works on a heavy rotation. The absence of Martin will mean more snaps for the other players. RB Ryan Mathews vs. Panthers D-line: Mathews has performed well of late but still doesn't have a 100-yard plus performance this season. The Panthers have allowed an average of 121.6 yards per game on the ground (ranked 19th). Chargers O-Line vs. Panthers D-line: The Bolts O-line last Sunday featured three players who did not start the previous week. They included RT Reggie Wells, LG Rex Hadnot and LT Kevin Haslam. The O-line only allowed one sack in the game and will likely remain the same this week. The Panthers have recorded 31 sacks this season (ranked 10th, tied with five other teams).

Injuries of note: San Diego -- Out: ILB Demorrio Williams (groin). Doubtful: RB Ronnie Brown (hamstring), ILB Donald Butler (groin), RT Jeromey Clary (knee), LG Tyronne Green (hamstring). Questionable: WR Eddie Royal (hamstring). Carolina -- Out: DT Dwan Edwards (wrist), C Geoff Hangartner (foot) and RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle). Questionable: LB James Anderson (back), S Colin Jones (groin) and WR Brandon LaFell (toe).

Inside stuff: The Chargers attempted to duplicate WR Steve Smith and TE Greg Olsen in practice. SS Corey Lynch spent extra time after practice on Friday working on route coverage with the Olsen double.

Connections: TE Dante Rosario (fifth round) played for the Panthers from 2007-10. In 2008, Rosario caught the game winning catch against the Chargers. Turner wouldn’t mind a role reversal this time around. “That would be great,” Turner said. “It was a wild game and a desperation play. Dante made a nice play on the ball."

Stat you should know: Rivers has thrown for 3,169 yards and needs just 331 passing yards over the final three games to become the first Chargers QB to record 3,500 yards or more in five straight seasons.

Record watch: TE Antonio Gates (80) needs one touchdown catch to match WR Lance Alworth (81) for the franchise record. OLB Shaun Phillips has 68.0 career sacks, tied for second in team history with Gary “Big Hands” Johnson. With his next sack, Phillips will break the tie. Phillips leads the team this season with seven sacks, 13 pressures and nine QB hits.

Looking ahead:  In Week 16, the Chargers will travel to take on the Jets (6-7). The Panthers will stay in the AFC West and host the Raiders (3-10).

Prediction: Chargers 26, Panthers 24

Follow the Chargers and Dan McLellan on Twitter @CBSChargers and @sandiegosports.