and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger are playing some of the best football of their 15-year careers.On Sunday http://www.chargersfootballauthentic...rsey-authentic , the two meet at Heinz Field in a prime-time game that could serve as a playoff preview.If the postseason began this week, the Chargers would be facing the Steelers in a first-round game. Los Angeles (8-3) has a two-game lead for the AFC's first wild-card spot while Pittsburgh (7-3-1) leads the AFC North and would be the fourth seed.It is the sixth time the two members of the 2004 draft class have met but the first time since 2012, when the Chargers defeated the Steelers 34-24 in Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger though has the 3-2 edge in the series."We're probably similar in a lot of ways," Rivers said. "We both like to stand in there, don't mind holding on till the last second to make a throw, take a hit, all those things. It's always awesome going against those teams led by those types of guys."Both have been in the league for 15 seasons, but Rivers acknowledged that he doesn't know Roethlisberger very well. However, there is a mutual admiration between the two."He's an MVP-caliber player, and he's playing at a MVP level right now," said Roethlisberger of Rivers.Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was Roethlisberger's offensive coordinator when he was drafted in 2004 and spent three seasons with him.Whisenhunt has been Rivers' coach for four seasons in two different stints and said he has been fortunate to see both at different stages of their careers."Got two different guys that have managed to be successful. The one trait they both have is how competitive they are," Whisenhunt said."They are both great leaders. I remember in Pittsburgh telling (then defensive coordinator) Dick Lebeau how special Ben could be. With Philip it is hard for opposing defenses to fool him because he sees so much and has great anticipation for what is coming."Rivers comes into this game after having the most accurate passing performance in league history last week against Arizona, going 28 of 29 for 239 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters. He completed his first 25, which tied the league mark for consecutive completions and broke the record for the most to start a game.The performance drew plenty of plaudits from throughout the league, including Roethlisberger."What he did last week was pretty spectacular 鈥?25 in a row. It's hard to follow all of the games on the west, so much but it's easy because he's a quarterback to kind of keep track of how he's doing," he said.Rivers is third in the league with a 115.7 passer rating and is averaging 9.1 yards per completion, which is fourth. He has thrown for two or more touchdowns in every game this season, becoming just the fourth in league history to do that in the first 11 games in a season.His biggest improvement though is in not taking risks. He has 26 touchdowns against six interceptions, and his 69.5 percent completion rate ties a career best. Rivers has said often this year it has been one of his goals to have a completion rate of 70 percent or more in a season.Roethlisberger though is also getting better with age. He has thrown for 3,664 yards, which is his most of his career through the Steelers first 11 games, and the 24 touchdowns are tied with his 2014 season."Obviously he does a great job extending plays and is hard to bring down. He probably has made a lot more plays on the move than I have over the years," Rivers said.A late-season matchup between Rivers and Roethlisberger is also appropriate considering they are in the top three since 2006 in regular-season wins once the calendar turns to December. Rivers is 39-19 to Roethlisberger's 38-14. Only Tom Brady has more wins in that span with 44.Both feel fortunate to be linked to a 2004 quarterback draft class where all three, including Eli Manning, have remained with the same team. Roethlisberger has said it is even cooler when their group is compared with the 1983 class of Dan Marino http://www.chargersfootballauthentic...rsey-authentic , Jim Kelly and John Elway.While there is certainly competition between Rivers, Roethlisberger and Manning, Rivers said there isn't a rivalry."You know you're going to be linked to guys. It's a heck of a group to be a part of. I think it's something we can look back and be proud of, that draft class. But I don't check to see where we all stack up, all that stuff. I know we all three have sustained pretty long, good careers." C.J. Beathard's first game in his second stint as an NFL starting quarterback will be against the team he grew up rooting for.The second-year signal caller will receive the most attention on Sunday when San Francisco faces the Los Angeles Chargers at the StubHub Center. Beathard is back in the starting spot after Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a season-ending knee injury in last week's loss at Kansas City.Beathard grew up rooting for the Chargers because his grandfather, Bobby Beathard, was the team's general manager from 1989 to 2000. Beathard was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August and was the architect of the 1994 team which advanced to Super Bowl 29."It's crazy that it is the Chargers," Beathard said. "I did grow up being a Chargers fan, but I'm just excited to go out there and play whoever it was going to be. In this case, it's the Chargers."Both teams are 1-2 but are trending in different directions. The Chargers' September struggles have continued, but their losses have been to the unbeaten Chiefs and Rams, which isn't causing anyone to panic.The 49ers, 5-2 when Garoppolo started, have to find a way to salvage their season."The season doesn't slow down for anyone. You just have to move on," tight end George Kittle said. "We have 13 games left, plus playoffs. We can't really sit back and mourn and feel bad for ourselves while the Chargers are out there practicing and getting better. They don't really care."The Niners' hopes will turn to Beathard, whose first shot at being a starter didn't go well. The third-round pick started five games as a rookie and went 1-4. Beathard completed 54.9 percent of his passes with four touchdowns, six interceptions, 6.4 yards per attempt and a 69.2 passer rating that was second lowest in the NFL. He also took 19 sacks as he played behind a makeshift offensive line.A year later, Beathard said he believes the game will have slowed down for him."It's year two for me in this offense. With any extra time doing something, the better you get at it," he said. "I definitely understand more of the whys. Why certain things happen, why this guy we think will be open, why we attack certain things versus certain coverages, and stuff like that."Beathard should also benefit from an improved running game. Matt Breida is tied for the NFL lead in rushing with 274 yards and has a league-high six carries of 20 yards or more.Chargers coach Anthony Lynn Youth Tyrell Williams Jersey , well versed in Kyle Shanahan system from his days in Denver, when he played and coached for Mike Shanahan, thinks Beathard could present more problems due to his mobility."He'll move around a little bit. They do more things with him as far as quarterback-driven runs and things like that," Lynn said. "I believe he can function well within that offense."Here are some other things to watch as the Chargers look for their fifth straight win over the Niners:RIVERS' MILESTONEChargers quarterback Philip Rivers will play in his 200th game and make his 196th consecutive start. He needs 222 yards to pass John Elway for eighth on the NFL's career passing list.Rivers, who has 51,254 yards in 15 seasons, is averaging 323.3 yards per game in his past four with 11 touchdowns, one interception and a 120.8 passer rating.MORE THAN RUNNING BACKSThe Chargers are ninth in the league in rushing, averaging 124.3 yards per game, but Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler have combined for 27 catches, which is more than a third of the team's 78 receptions.Gordon, who has four touchdowns in the past two games, and Ekeler are the only running back duo in the league with 250 or more scrimmage yards. Gordon has 316 and Ekeler 295."We're averaging over five yards per carry, which is huge. We're really complementing the run and the pass and getting a lot of first downs," Rivers said.MISSED TACKLESA consistent problem for the 49ers this season has been missed tackles. The team is tied for the eighth most in the league with 28, according to SportRadar, including four alone by linebacker Reuben Foster in his first game back from suspension last week against Kansas City."We have to tackle better in order to improve," Shanahan said. "In this last week, I thought we had too many mistakes versus a good offense that gave them too many freebies in that first half, which put us in a huge hole."KEEP AN EYE ON KITTLEThe Niners tight end leads the team in receptions (12) and yards (191). His receiving yards are fourth most among tight ends in the league.MATCHUP TO WATCH49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon goes against Chargers receiver Mike Williams. Witherspoon was picked on badly by Detroit in Week 2, allowing nine catches on 13 targets for 117 yards, according to SportRadar, as Matthew Stafford avoided Richard Sherman. Witherspoon didn't start last week but figures to be back in there against the Chargers with Sherman sidelined by a calf injury.Williams has three touchdowns this season and had his first multi-touchdown game in last week's loss to the Rams.AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this storyFollow Joe Reedy at joereedy