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Game Preview: Cardinals at Chargers, Chargers on Defense

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Cardinals Running the Ball

  • 12th in Yards/Game (116.3), tied with the Chargers.
  • 2nd in Yards/Carry (5.8).
  • 10th in Rush TDs (2), tied with the Chargers.
  • 9th in Runs for 1st downs (25.0%).
  • 3rd in Runs for 20+ Yards (4).
  • 20th in Fumbles (2).

Going off stats and recent history, you'd have to say that this is a formidable running game that the Chargers will be attempting to slow down on Sunday.....and the stats above were all done with their #1 RB (Beanie Wells) only getting 14 carries so far this year, when he should be getting at least that many in this weekend's game. This will be another chance for the Bolts run D, specifically Antonio Garay and Kevin Burnett, to prove that they have made great strides from last season.

Chargers Stopping the Run

  • 9th in Yards/Game allowed (91.3). up from 11th last week.
  • 13th in Yards/Carry allowed (3.9), up from 18th last week.
  • 3rd in Rush TDs allowed (1), up from 8th last week.
  • 15th in Runs for 1st downs against (21.1%), up from 17th last week.
  • 11th in Runs for 20+ Yards allowed (2), down from 9th last week.
  • 17th in Fumbles recovered (1), down from 9th last week.

The motto, for the past few years, amongst Charger fans has been "With our offense, we just need the defense to be average and nobody can beat us." Well, at least against the run it seems to be somewhere between average and above-average this season. I am slightly worried about if the run defense will regress with a banged up Stephen Cooper replacing Brandon Siler, just as I am about what will happen with Shawne Merriman and/or Larry English (who are both good against the run) are replaced by Antwan Applewhite (a bit of an unknown).

Advantage: Cardinals. I'll give it to them because their potent running game will be getting stronger, and because this is the first big power RB that the Chargers will see so it's hard to know if they'll have trouble with tackling.

 

Cardinals Throwing the Ball

  • 25th in Yards/Game (174.3)
  • 29th in Yards/Attempt (5.8)
  • 21st in TDs (3)
  • 26th in Passes for 1st down (28.0%)
  • 14th in Passes for 20+ yards (9)
  • 16th in Sacks taken (6)
  • 19th in Interceptions thrown (4)

This will be an interesting matchup. I've said it a million times, but you cannot be a very good NFL QB if you're not incredibly accurate with your throws and Derek Anderson is anything but "incredibly accurate". However, the combination of his strong arm and Larry Fitzgerarld's overall ability means they have big-play potential on every pass play. The injuries to Early Doucet and Steve Breaston help a great deal, as now the Chargers can put a CB and a Safety of Fitzgerald on every play and try to force him to beat them with his other receivers. The numbers above say that he probably will not.

 

Chargers Defending the Pass

  • 6th in Yards/Game allowed (181.3), up from 8th last week.
  • 5th in Yards/Attempt (6.1), same as last week.
  • 8th in TDs allowed (3), up from 8th last week.
  • 3rd in Passes for 1st downs allowed (27.1%), up from 8th last week.
  • 5th in Passes for 20+ yards allowed (7), same as last week.
  • 13th in Sacks (6), up from 18th last week.
  • 3rd in Interceptions (5), down from 1st last week.
The funny thing above the numbers above is that most of the rankings went up, or stayed the same, yet most of the stats went down. That tells me that teams around the league are starting to find their rhythm and timing, and the passing games are getting harder to defend around the league. So it wasn't just the Chargers' fault that Matt Hasselbeck and Deion Branch suddenly seemed to get on the same page, the same thing was happening all over the country last Sunday.

Advantage: Chargers. The numbers make this one pretty obvious. The Cardinals passing attack is ranked amongst the bottom third of the league, and the Chargers secondary ranks above the top third. I'm not saying the Bolts will dominate in this part of the game, but I'd be shocked if the Cardinals passing attack had a good game.