My first DN post! (fingers crossed). I figured since we are one week away from the most wonderful time of the year, I'd breakdown the Chargers by each position on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
QB: Phillip Rivers. He's scary good. No need to go into detail.
RB: Probably the weak point of the offense. Nothing that strikes fear in the heart of the defense, which will be good considering this will be Guion's first start. Mike Tolbert had a nose for the endzone with 11 TDs, but had a poor YPC average. Matthews had a bust rookie year, failed a conditioning test in training camp (you can start laughing now), and doesn't seem very threatening. I will say he had a fantastic preseason with24 carries for 187 yards and 2 TDs, but if preseason stats mattered Daunte Culpepper would have been the 2005 MVP.
TE: Antonio Gates is the best TE in the game hands down. Didn't play much in the preseason, but that won't matter. Hopefully the LBs are up to the task (I think they are).
OL: Return all of their starters. A very good pass blocking unit, but they struggle to get much push off the line in the run game. They will make our run defense look pretty darn good.
Summary: Our secondary will have their work cut out for them. we need to get a solid pass rush, whether that be by rishing for or blitzing the heck out of them. I don't expect the Chargers to run the ball more than 20 times against us, unless they think Guion and Ayodele are incapable of stopping them.
DL: They will likely start a rookie Defensive tackle/end in Corey Liguet (fantastic name) who is very engetic, skilled, and expected to be the long term replacement Jamal WIlliams, but will be going up against AP in his very first game (yikes). Castillo is good, but is well past his prime. Antionio Garay is a solid NT, but isn't a game changer. If they start Liguet at end, then they will start career reserve Vaughn Martin at DT. If he statrts at tackle, then veteran DE Jacques Cesarie will get the start. Overall this isn't exactly a weak point in the defense, but its nothing to write home about.
LB: Shaun Phillips is the most underrated LB in the AFC, he had 55 tackles and 11 sacks along with one pick six last season. 14 year vet Takeo Spikes will start at MLB who should be solid. At LOLB they will play both Larry English and Travis LaBoy. LOLB is probably the one glaring weakness on this defense. This will be a make or break year for English. Daryll Gamble could also see playing time.
DB: Cason is a very good corner who had 67 tackles and 4 picks last year, but has a broken finger. Jammer is in his tenth year and is very good at covering #1 recievers. Eric Weddle signed a huge contract during the offseason. While I don't think he deserved that money, he is a solid player none-the-less. They signed Bob Sanders in the offseason, but Sanders looks like he's past his prime. If he can be half as good as he was in 07, this secondary will be very scary. The Chargers led the leauge in pass defense, but that can be misleading, considering everyone outside of the Chargers in the AFC West is a run team.
Special Teams: No where to go but up. Last year they were horrible, but they made special teams the main focus of their draft. Expect improvement.
Summary: Yes they had the #1 defense overall last year, but that is misleading. Its easy to look good on defense when you play the NFC West and the AFC West. I don't think they will be nearly as good with up to 5 new starters.
How we win: We need to hand the ball off to #28. Plain and simple. The Chargers were 3-5 against true running teams last year. We also need to dominate the time of possession battle, if we keep our D on the field, it will a long day. We also cannot beat ourselves. If we keep the ball out of River's hands, and run it down their thoats with AP and Gerhart, we should win this.
How we lose: We go back to the chilly offense and get pass happy, and lose sight of AP. As a result, We turn the ball over and keep our D on the field like 2010. We also can't let Rivers kill us in the passing game, if Rivers goes off, It will be embarrassing.
Key Battle: The Chargers have two 6'5 WR, it will be intersting to see if we put Winfield in either one the whole game, or if we use Cook at all.
Prediction: We run it down their throats, limit McNabb's throws, and steal a win 23-21. :)
Any Predictions for you guys?