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Key Matchups for Chargers-Cardinals

What are going to be the most important matchups in the Chargers second preseason game?

NFL: Preseason-San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers will host the Arizona Cardinals on Friday for their second preseason game.

Throughout the week, the two teams will be holding joint practices, and it could help gauge how each team looks for the upcoming season.

For the Chargers, it’ll be a big test against one of the best teams in the NFL. Arizona has been a consistently good team since they hired Bruce Arians as their head coach and hopefully the Chargers can hold their own against the Cards in practice and during Friday’s game.

When it comes to the game Friday, there are a few matchups that everyone should be keeping their eye’s on.

Keenan Allen vs. Patrick Peterson

Keenan Allen and Patrick Peterson are elite players at their respective positions. Even though they may not be on the field for very long come Friday night, it will still be fun to see them line up across from each other.

Peterson has been known to talk a lot about fellow players on social media. He has recently dueled with Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, and it’s clear that Peterson loves to stir the pot.

Allen and Peterson will be lining up across from each other all week at practice, and there may be a rivalry brewing once the game kicks off. Hopefully, Allen can win the war against Peterson and grab a catch or two before his night is over.

I remember Allen turning cornerback Richard Sherman around a few times in the past, so I’m excited to see if he can do the same to another elite NFC West corner.

Hunter Henry vs. Cardinals linebackers

In his first game as a Charger, Hunter Henry played very well. He snagged three passes for 43 yards. Henry will be featured more against second string players, but even so, the Cardinals have one of the best defenses in football.

The Cardinals linebacking corps is interesting. They frequently bring safeties in the box to help stop the run and defend tight ends. Henry will see a lot of different looks when he runs his routes, and it will be interesting to see how he fares with both safeties and linebackers.

Henry may also be matched up with former San Diego Chargers linebacker Donald Butler. Butler was released by the Chargers last season only a year after signing a long-term extension.

Butler could be looking to get revenge on his former club and Henry is up against a tall task if Butler is motivated. Let’s be honest, though; I doubt Butler is going to be motivated enough.

Chargers front seven vs. Cardinals rushing attack

The Tennessee Titans absolutely thrashed the San Diego front seven in the preseason opener, rushing for 288 yards as a team. Derrick Henry and Demarco Murray ran all over the Bolts, and it was an ugly sight.

It has to be noted that most of Tennessee’s yards were against the second and third-team defense, but the poor play must have the San Diego coaches concerned.

The Arizona Cardinals rushing attack is in the same discussion as the Titans. A two-headed monster headlined by David Johnson. Johnson has been in the discussion as one of the top-three running backs in the NFL.

In all likelihood, Johnson is only going to play a drive or two, so the Chargers will be faced with Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington for a good portion of the game. In his prime, Johnson ran for 2,000 yards in a season. Earning him the moniker of, “CJ2K”. Ellington has started for the Cardinals in the past. He has been inconsistent throughout his career, but he has the talent to make life hard for an opposing defense.

If the Bolts are going to be successful against the Cardinals, players like Nick Dzubnar, Jatavis Brown, and Damion Square are going to have to play better. This unit is really at a disadvantage without first-round pick Joey Bosa suiting up.

Chargers backup quarterbacks vs. Cardinals defense

This game could be very, very ugly after Philip Rivers and the first team offense get off the field. The trio of backup quarterbacks the Chargers are going to be playing is not very good.

Kellen Clemens, Zach Mettenberger, and Mike Bercovici make it hard to watch the Chargers offense. Not one of the three are accurate, and all three failed to find the end zone against a bad Titans defense.

Arizona is a different animal. The Cardinals are a Super Bowl contender, and their defense has depth. If these quarterbacks play as bad as they did last week, the Chargers will not only lose, they could get slaughtered.

I know, it’s preseason the score doesn’t matter, but let me put it this way, it would be nice to see the second or third team offense to end a drive with a touchdown.

Chargers secondary vs. Cardinals wide receivers

One of the most talked about units on this Chargers team is the secondary. If Brandon Flowers stays healthy and returns to form, the cornerback position should be solid. However, the safety position is filled with question marks.

Safeties Dwight Lowery and Jahleel Addae are probably going to be one of the major weaknesses in the Chargers defense. They are going to be challenged when facing the Arizona receivers.

Led by Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals have a very deep group at wide receiver. The Chargers are going to be tested on the outside and with slot receiver John Brown added to the mix, it could lead to trouble.

When the Chargers second team cornerbacks enter the game, they could be in big trouble. Craig Mager and Steve Williams are going to be matched up against talented wideouts like Jaron Brown and JJ Nelson. It could be a great test for the pair as they are battling for that fourth cornerback spot.

I will be watching Mager closely this week. The former third-round pick needs to start showing signs of improvement because patience is beginning to wear thin.