Chargers – Cardinals

Posted by on September 8th, 2014  •  0 Comments  • 

They are ready, and they are going to win, at least tonight they are.
 
The Chargers play the Arizona Cardinals in what they hope will be the next step forward to regaining their status as an elite team in the AFC.  They snapped a three year playoff drought last year, forging their way into the postseason, with a late season run.  They wound up winning a playoff game in Cincinnati to boot, to complete a ‘regain the credibility’ season.
 
They were helped along the way, not just by the greatness of QB-Philip Rivers, or the emergence of the maturing Ryan Mathews, or the leadership of a fiery-demanding coach Mike McCoy, but rather by a relatively easy schedule, the second easiest in the league.  That was last year and last year no longer counts.
 
This year the Bolts play the 4th toughest slate in the NFL, opponents with a combined (.563) winning percentage.  The Raiders and Denver are ranked 1-2 with the hardest schedule, all because the AFC-West wind up playing the power people in the NFC-West, the Seahawks, 49ers and Arizona.
 
The Chargers have a sledgehammer of an offense, Rivers, Mathews as part of a 3-Musketeer running back corps, quality tight ends, and enough receivers to pose threats.  It is the defense where they lack, and they are not totally healthy either.
 
Banged up in the front, the team needs healthy people to compliment pass rusher Corey Liuget.  They are very thin at nose tackle, and have virtually no experienced depth.
 
Linebacking is the strength, and it will take the fierceness of Dwight Freeney’s pass rush and the explosiveness of Melvin Ingram to bail out the deficiencies upfront. 
 
The Chargers have strength in numbers in the secondary, but it is young.  Tonight we find out if cornerback Brandon Flowers has any speed left to cover wideouts, and we find out if Richard Marshall can play safety.  San Diego needs people like Shareece Wright and Darrell Stuckey to take the next step up in terms of productivity after poor years last year.
 
lst round pick Jason Verrett will be a role player at the start.  He is gifted athletically, but has hardly played in preseason, and tonight those will be people like Larry Fitzgerald, Ted Ginn and Michael Floyd running routes against him.
 
If nothing else, San Diego has proven they can put up big offensive numbers with McCoy’s no-huddle offense.  They’ve shown they can spread the field sideline to sideline spraying passes everywhere. We know they can control the clock too with Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown.
 
They will score a lot of points but they will have to, because the defense will be allowing points, especially with that schedule of big play quarterbacks they go against.
 
Prediction here, San Diego slugs Arizona, plays ball control to keep Carson Palmer and that Cardinals passing game off the field.  Prediction too, San Diego gets to a (9-7) season and another playoff berth, hoping not to have any significant injuries on defense. 
 
The Chargers have to play fast, because Rivers’ career is on the clock, and there’s little time left to get the chance to get back to the AFC Championship game.  They could with Rivers, they cannot if they have to rely on the defense.
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