Game Preview: Cardinals at Chargers, Chargers on Offense

Chargers Running the Ball

  • 12th in Yards/Game (116.3), down from 6th last week.
  • 11th in Yards/Carry (4.4), down from 6th last week.
  • 10th in Rush TDs (2), down from 7th last week.
  • 18th in Runs for 1st downs (20.0%), up from 21st last week.
  • 8th in Runs for 20+ Yards (3), down from 1st last week.
  • 26th in Fumbles (3), down from 24th last week.

Although just about all of the rankings above dropped, most of the figures didn't drop dramatically. The most important of the stats above is probably Yards/Carry, which stayed at 4.4 from last week to this week. The story here is as simple to figure out as it was to watch, the running offense played well but was abandoned when the Chargers dug themselves a hole against the Seattle Seahawks.

 

Cardinals Stopping the Run

  • 31st in Yards/Game allowed (146.3)
  • 18th in Yards/Carry allowed (4.3)
  • 22nd in Rush TDs allowed (3)
  • 19th in Runs for 1st downs against (22.5%)
  • 23rd in Runs for 20+ Yards allowed (3)
  • 6th in Fumbles recovered (2)

It would certainly appear that this team has difficulties stopping the run. They've been matched up against a couple of good rushing attacks in the Raiders and Falcons, and gave up big games to Darren McFadden (105 yds, 1 TD) and Jason Snelling (129 yds, 2 TD). This could be the perfect opponent for Ryan Mathews to come back and have his first big game against.

Advantage: Chargers. For the first time in a long time, the Bolts have a strong running game and are going against a weak running defense. Could we see a game where the team's not riding on Philip Rivers shoulders? Possibly.

 

Chargers Throwing the Ball

  • 2nd in Yards/Game (345.0), up from 4th last week.
  • 2nd in Yards/Attempt (9.0), same as last week.
  • 3rd in TDs (7), down from 2nd last week.
  • 2nd in Passes for 1st down (43.8%), down from 1st last week.
  • 1st in Passes for 20+ yards (18), up from 3rd last week.
  • 19th in Sacks taken (7), down from 8th last week.
  • 19th in Interceptions thrown (4), down from 13th last week.

No big shocker here. Outside of some tipped passes and forced throws at the end of games, Philip Rivers has been excellent. However, the line has had some difficulty protecting him....this was made clear as day against the Seattle Seahawks and speed-rusher Chris Clemons. Luckily, we all know that the receivers have good hands and that Rivers won't be forcing those passes if the team can get back to protecting the football and the lead. Also, Pro Bowl LT Marcus McNeill is on his way to protect Philip's blindside and the team doesn't face any great pass-rushers before his return. Things should be just find here.

 

Cardinals Defending the Pass

  • 19th in Yards/Game allowed (231.1)
  • 5th in Yards/Attempt (6.1)
  • 19th in TDs allowed (5)
  • 8th in Passes for 1st downs allowed (29.8%)
  • 14th in Passes for 20+ yards allowed (9)
  • 13th in Sacks (6)
  • 8th in Interceptions (4)

This defense, at least against the pass, isn't pretty much on par with the Seattle Seahawks if not a little bit better. So while they probably won't shut down the Chargers great passing game, they have the ability to make plays if the Bolts are forced to pass on every down.

Advantage: Chargers, as long as they can keep Joey Porter away from Philip Rivers.

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