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Game Preview: Chargers at Seahawks - Chargers on Defense

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I feel great about the Chargers chances at Qwest Field this weekend. This is a team that the Chargers can outscore, because the San Diego offense is better and because the Seattle secondary has issues.

However, there is a reason for concern. In 2006, during the famed "14-2" season that was Marty Schottenheimer's last season in powder blue and Philip Rivers 1st as a starter, the Chargers traveled to Qwest Field. Although they escaped with win #13 in a 20-17 game, Rivers was shaken up enough that he went 10-for-30(!).

He still managed to throw 2 touchdowns against zero interceptions, and this was a week after completing 8 of 23 passes in a win against the Chiefs. If memory serves me, Rivers was having some issues with injuries and arm strength at that point in the season and went through a bit of a rough patch. However, could the crazy atmosphere at Qest (still referred to as "the loudest stadium I've ever been in" by Philip) throw him off track once again?

Onto the stats and conclusions for when Seattle has the ball.

Seahawks Running the Ball

  • 20th in Yards/Game (93.0)
  • 8th in Yards/Carry (4.3)
  • 7th in Rush TDs (2)
  • 16th in Runs for 1st downs (20.9%)
  • 6th in Runs for 20+ Yards (2)
  • 1st in Fumbles (0)

This doesn't make any sense to me. Ignoring the first stat, the Seahawks are as good (if not better) than the Chargers at running the ball....yet they don't seem to do it a lot. As a matter of fact, they rank 28th in the league in rushing attempts per game (21.5). Is Pete Carroll changing into a West Coast Offense guy? I'm lost here.

After digging through the box scores, it's even more confusing. It seems like outside of 1 run (a 32 yard gain for Justin Forsett), the running game didn't do much against San Francisco. More of the same against the Broncos, where Seattle had a couple of big runs (19 yarder for Forsett, 20 yarder for Matt Hasselbeck, 15 yarder for Michael Robinson) but abandoned the ground game when they fell too far behind.

The numbers say this is a good running game, but it seems like if you can keep Hasselbeck in the pocket and keep Forsett from getting to the second level the Seahawks won't kill you on the ground.


Chargers Stopping the Run

  • 11th in Yards/Game allowed (103.0)
  • 18th in Yards/Carry allowed (4.1)
  • 8th in Rush TDs allowed (1)
  • 17th in Runs for 1st downs against (22.0%)
  • 9th in Runs for 20+ Yards allowed (1)
  • 9th in Fumbles recovered (1)

I'm going to go ahead and call the Chargers run defense "average". Outside of one big run by Jamaal Charles, they weren't terrible against the Chiefs. Due to a big lead, they didn't get tested a lot by the Jaguars. They're still somewhat of an unknown, however with a healthy Shawne Merriman and Brandon Siler in with the LBs I'm confident this group can keep from giving up big plays via the run and that should be enough.

Advantage: Seahawks, but just barely.



Seahawks Throwing the Ball

  • 19th in Yards/Game (197.5)
  • 13th in Yards/Attempt (6.9)
  • 10th in TDs (3)
  • 10th in Passes for 1st down (34.5%)
  • 25th in Passes for 20+ yards (4)
  • 4th in Sacks taken (2)
  • 25th in Interceptions thrown (4)

Not a lot to worry about here. This is not the Chiefs or Jaguars passing offense, so it'll be another step up on the Chargers way to facing the Patriots and Texans in a few weeks. Matt Hasselbeck is not David Garrard, Luke McCown or Matt Cassel, and the Seattle offensive line seems to do a great job of keeping him upright as well. I hope the Bolts are up to the task.


Chargers Defending the Pass

  • 8th in Yards/Game allowed (170.5)
  • 5th in Yards/Attempt (5.6)
  • 8th in TDs allowed (2)
  • 8th in Passes for 1st downs allowed (28.1%)
  • 5th in Passes for 20+ yards allowed (4)
  • 18th in Sacks (3)
  • 1st in Interceptions (4)
These numbers don't tell the whole story. As I mentioned above, the Chargers have faced a couple of the worst QBs in the league in Cassel and Garrard. Hasselbeck is an above-average QB, and that's going to make this task harder. The only thing these numbers don't show is how much more improved the pass-rush was once Siler and Merriman got on the field last week.

If I'm going purely off numbers this looks like a game where Hasselbeck will have all the time in the world, but nobody will be open. However, the Chargers might be able to generate a pass-rush and the Seattle WRs might be better than what KC and JAX were throwing their way. This early in the season, it's almost a crap-shoot.

Advantage: Chargers