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What to Watch For: San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals

Football is back , folks. The Chargers open up with the late game on Monday night (surprise!), and here are some match-ups that could be a heavy factor in deciding the winner.

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Chargers' Cornerbacks vs The Cardinals' Wide Receivers

I will be the first to admit that the height of defensive backs is highly over-criticized nowadays. However, there can be an issue with smaller cornerbacks' strength against bigger receivers. With both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald measuring in at 6'3" and over 220 pounds, Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett could be in a tough spot.

Fitzgerald is already one of the best receivers in the NFL at using his body for leverage, and the Cardinals' Floyd was known for that coming out of college a few years back. If John Pagano tries to match up the Chargers smaller corners in press coverage, it could be a long day for the Bolts' secondary.

Ladarius Green's Usage

It wouldn't truly be NFL season without the Ladarius Green hype train. Fans (including myself) were begging for the playmaker to see the field more in 2013. For the most part the fans got their wish. Green averaged 13.8 snaps per game in the first 10 matchups, but 39 snaps per game from there on out. He is now officially listed as a starter on the Chargers depth chart as they have eliminated the fullback position.

How they use Green should be very interesting. Even though he is not a prototypical in-line tight end, his average blocking skill makes him leaps and bounds better than Antonio Gates. Green is also interesting because he is not a refined route-runner and is much better suited for deeper routes, which actually work well with Gates who controls the shorter passing game.

The Cardinals struggled to defend the tight end last year,so this could be the Bolts biggest mismatch. The Birds have a strong set of corners that could give the outside receivers fits, but the middle of their defense has been decimated by injuries and suspensions. Look for the Chargers to attach with the mismatch-monster Ladarius Green.

The "It" Factor

Norv Turner's (please forgive me) Chargers had a reputation, and not a good one. They were notorious slow-starters, who dragged their feet until about December when they turned their mediocre record into one that could sneak into the post season, at least a few times. Last season, the Bolts had only 5 wins in their first 12 games before a late-season surge sent them into the post-season. This is not a trend I would like to see continuing.

A win on Monday Night Football on the road against a team that went 11-5 last year would make quite the statement for this team. As much as I like this team and where the future appears to be headed, last season was nothing that Norv Turner didn't do. Sneaking in to the playoffs and winning one game is what the fans here in San Diego are used to. The Chargers in year two under Mike McCoy have to show that they are different, and a big win on opening weekend would go a long way in showing that.