Game Preview: Chargers at Texans, Chargers on Offense

SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 31: Running back Darren Sproles #43 of the San Diego Chargers is pursued by Michael Griffin #33 of the Tennessee Titans in the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on October 31 2010 in San Diego California. The Chargers defeated the Titans 33-25. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Chargers Running the Ball

  • 15th in Yards/Game (111.6), up from 17th last week.
  • 10th in Yards/Carry (4.2), up from 14th last week.
  • 2nd in Rush TDs (9), up from 5th last week.
  • 19th in Runs for 1st downs (21.5%), down from 14th last week.
  • 9th in Runs for 20+ Yards (7), up from 10th last week.
  • 29th in Fumbles (7), up from 30th last week.

You want to know how many teams have as many, or more, fumbles than the Chargers this season? Three. The 1-6 Carolina Panthers, the 2-6 Denver Broncos and the 5-2 New York Giants. Wait, what? The Chargers and Giants also share the same home record (3-1) in 2010. So, how did they end up in such different places in terms of records? Well, here's one reason:

The logical point to make is "The Giants Special Teams is not as bad as the Chargers!" Well, you're right. In terms of Special Teams, I like to go by Football Outsiders' figures. Those figures say that the Giants have played the 2nd worst ST next to the Chargers this season, but San Diego's -16.2% weighted DVOA against New York's -7.1% says that the Chargers are still about twice as bad as the Giants.

Do you want another reason that the Chargers are 3-5 against the Giants' 5-2?

Chargers' opponents: 35-25 (only one team under .500)
Giants' opponents: 22-28 (three teams under .500)

 

Texans Stopping the Run

  • 14th in Yards/Game allowed (104.7)
  • 15th in Yards/Carry allowed (4.1)
  • 21st in Rush TDs allowed (6)
  • 28th in Runs for 1st downs against (26.0%)
  • 8th in Runs for 20+ Yards allowed (4)
  • 32nd in Fumbles recovered (0)

Statistically, it's not the worst run defense in the league. However, Chargers fans should be ecstatic to see that last bullet point. So far this season, the Texans have forced nor recovered any fumbles. Let's hope that continues this Sunday.

The Chargers rushing game looked pretty good last week against Tennessee, who is much better at stopping the run than the Texans, and should hopefully continue to improve each week as Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert get more experience carrying the ball.

Advantage: Chargers.

 

Chargers Throwing the Ball

  • 1st in Yards/Game (315.2), same as last week.
  • 1st in Yards/Attempt (8.7), same as last week.
  • 2nd in TDs (15), up from 3rd last week.
  • 1st in Passes for 1st down (42.3%), same as last week.
  • 1st in Passes for 20+ yards (43), same as last week. 
  • 24th in Sacks taken (21), up from 28th last week.
  • 13th in Interceptions thrown (7), down from 12th last week.

It's almost as if the stars are aligning to destroy any decent receiver Philip Rivers might've had with the purpose of winning him an MVP award. It looks like on Sunday the Chargers top receivers will be Patrick Crayton, Seyi Ajirotutu and Gary Banks. Neither Seyi nor Banks was good enough to make the team out of camp, so the fact that they're being asked to be major parts of the offense tells you there's a problem here.

The other issue is at the TE position, where the team thought they had good depth heading into the season. Randy McMichael has been a disappointment and Kris Wilson has taken a step back from a good second-half to the 2009 season. With the TE spot being such a big part of this offense, I expect both of these guys to get chances to catch the ball on Sunday and I hope they play better than they've played so far in 2010.

 

Texans Defending the Pass

  • 32nd in Yards/Game allowed (299.4)
  • 29th in Yards/Attempt (7.8)
  • 31st in TDs allowed (16)
  • 27th in Passes for 1st downs allowed (37.9%)
  • 16th in Passes for 20+ yards allowed (23)
  • 25th in Sacks (11)
  • 30th in Interceptions (4)

Yikes. Depending on who you talk to the Texans have either the worst or second-worst passing defense this season. Based off these numbers I'd say that they play a lot of deep coverage and soft zone to prevent big plays but, because of a mediocre pass rush, opposing QBs have all day to find holes in their defense (and there are many, this secondary/defense is young) and tear them to shreds.

Ever since Marcus McNeill has come back, ignoring his first game where he was still a little rusty, the offensive line has done an excellent job of protecting El Capitan. As long as that continues (Mario Williams could really go nuts at any moment), Rivers should have enough time to let his WRs get open and hit them with one of those side-arm lasers.

Advantage: Chargers. 

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