As most of you know, the game preview is a regular thing around BFTB. Typically, I'll break it into two separate posts (Chargers on Offense, Chargers on Defense) and give you guys an idea of what might happen come Sunday. This is a lot easier to do when we have stats to look at and a good idea of how new coaches will utilize their team. So, for Week 1, I'm condensing it down to one fairly general post.
Chargers on Defense
A lot of critics have been writing off the Minnesota Vikings after seeing Donovan McNabb's performance in Washington last season, but this is an offense that still has explosive playmakers that could spell trouble for the Bolts. Don't forget, either, that McNabb was a Pro Bowl QB in 2009 before being thrown into the mess that is the Redskins.
The key to stopping the Vikings will be two-fold. Number one, Antonio Garay and the rest of the Chargers front seven on defense will need to control the line of scrimmage and keep Adrian Peterson from breaking any big plays. The second key will be tackling, which never seems to be a strength of the San Diego defense. Obviously they'll need to make sure not to let Adrian Peterson get lose, but Percy Harvin will get the ball in space and could change the course of a game if he can break a tackle or two.
Chargers on Offense
The Vikings have one very good CB in Antoine Winfield. Antoine Winfield is eight inches shorter than Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd. If Marcus McNeill is able to keep Jared Allen away from Philip Rivers, El Capitan should feel very comfortable with chucking the ball downfield and stretching out the Minnesota defense. This will be important for balance, as the strength of the Vikings defense lies in their linebackers.
One or two big plays downfield and the linebackers are on their heels, and the Safeties are out of the box, and ready to get eaten up by a steady dose of Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert. Look for Jacob Hester, whose blocking was the key to a couple of big plays on the ground in the preseason, to be hunting for LBs to take out.
It looks like we have Richard Goodman returning kicks, Bryan Walters returning punts and Mike Windt snapping the ball back to Mike Scifres on punts and kicks. Fingers crossed that each of these guys do their job on Sunday.
Last season, the Vikings had Harvin and Lorenzo Booker handling kick returns. Harvin ran one back for a TD, but is a risk to get injured when returning kicks. Ex-Charger Greg Camarillo was the Vikings main punt returner last year, and could have the same role with the team this season. Last year he was steady and stable, but not much of a big play threat.
Tomorrow morning, on High Boltage Radio, we'll be talking with Eric J. Thompson from Daily Norseman and will be sure to ask him how he feels about these matchups heading into Sunday's game. Be sure to tune in either on 1360AM, online at XTRAsports1360.com or via the iHeartRadio app on your smartphone of choice.