Hey guys. I don't want to burst my optimism bubble from yesterday, but I'm a little nervous about how the San Diego Chargers are going to stop the Green Bay Packers' offense on Sunday. I'll cut straight to the matchups....
Greg Jennings vs. Quentin Jammer
Jennings is the Packers' best WR, and his having his best season yet, but this might be the least troubling of all of the defensive matchups for San Diego's secondary. Jennings is averaging around 6 catches, 100 receiving yards and a TD per game. I can't remember the last time someone had a game like that against Jammer, who will be glued to Jennings (who is surprisingly short at 5'11") all game.
James Jones vs. Marcus Gilchrist
Gilchrist wasn't embarrassed by the Chiefs, but they threw at him often and took advantage of a few rookie mistakes. Green Bay will attempt to do the same, and Jones will be a tough matchup for the Chargers' second-round pick.
Jordy Nelson vs. ?????
Jordy Nelson is not too different from everyone's favorite white WR, Wes Welker. He's a tough, physical slot receiver with very good speed. The big difference between the two is that Nelson is 6 inches taller than Welker. I could see Dante Hughes, who has played well against physical WRs, getting a shot to cover Nelson. However, he's 5 inches shorter than Nelson where Cason is only 2 inches shorter. If Hughes struggles, Cason could be inserted right away. Or visa versa, depending on the preference of Greg Manusky. This is one of the worst matchups for San Diego.
Donald Driver vs. ?????
Driver is not the star he once was, and sees much less targets than in years past. However, he's still a savvy WR with good hands that needs to be accounted for on third downs. He's a better matchup for Cason, should he be the 4th WR, than Nelson is. The Chargers will be playing a lot of zone against the Packers 3, 4 and 5-WR sets, but when they play man or even man-zone, I think they'll try and hide Cason against Driver.
Randall Cobb vs. ?????
Who is Randall Cobb? He's the youngest player in the NFL, a dangerous kick and punt returner, and a WR that will be on the field to force defenses to respect his speed. It almost doesn't matter which CB is on Cobb (Shareece Wright? Paul Oliver?), just so long as there is over-the-top help by a Safety on that side to prevent the big play. Cobb might not show up much in the box score, but his speed opens up plenty for his teammates....including the toughest matchup for the Chargers.....
Jermichael Finley vs. ?????
Finley might be the new Antonio Gates, a TE that has so much speed and is so adept at catching the ball that they can play either TE or WR and be the team's #1 or #2 target on most plays. At 6'4", 240 lbs, he's a physical mismatch for anyone outside of Takeo Spikes and Donald Butler (who are probably slow than Finley). These are the days when the Chargers really miss Kevin Burnett.
Outside of the Aaron Hernandez-Rob Gronkowski duo in New England, the Chargers have done a pretty good job at shutting down opposing TEs this season. Unfortunately, Finley is a challenge on par with those Patriot TEs. The Chargers ILBs are going to need to play a great game on Sunday if San Diego want to even slow down Green Bay's powerful passing game.
Oh, that reminds me, we haven't even discussed the run game. After looking at the stats, it seems that the Packers' run game is fairly mediocre. James Starks and Ryan Grant are pretty much used to keep defenses honest at this point, but if they start having success against a weak Chargers run defense it wouldn't surprise me to see Mike McCarthy dial up a whole bunch of running plays to take advantage.