To put things bluntly, the second half of last week’s game was pretty s****y. The Chargers were “this” close to letting the game slip away and starting the year 0-1. However, destiny was on their side, once again.
Heading into week 2 with a match-up with a match-up on tap against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions, the Chargers will look to make it back-to-back wins to start the 2019 season, something they haven’t done since 2012.
Stafford is coming off an excellent individual performance and could look to maintain that momentum on Sunday. The Chargers have the greater amount of pressure on their shoulders considering their status as a super bowl contender throughout the entire offseason.
There will be plenty of themes to watch for on Sunday. It’s the Lions’ home opener and that could potentially play a role in their performance. However, the Chargers have been dynamite on the road and their need to travel could actually have the opposite assumed effect on the Bolts.
The last time these two team squared-off, it was opening week back in 2015. The Chargers narrowly escaped with a 33-28 victory and somehow managed to hold Calvin Johnson to just 39 receiving yards on a pair of catches. Both quarterbacks threw multiple interceptions and Keenan Allen set a franchise-record for receptions in a single game with 15 for 166 yards
Could there be more history made in this match-up? With several Chargers pass-catchers possibly sidelined this week, it’s not out of the likelihood of possibilities.
Let’s get to it.
1.) Expect Matthew Stafford to sling it
Going into Sunday, the Chargers will be without two of their top three cornerbacks, with Michael Davis still nursing a hamstring injury and Trevor Williams officially being placed on Injured Reserve earlier this week.
That forced the team to sign a veteran in Dontae Johnson, a former San Francisco 49er with 22 career starts. They also signed former CFL cornerback Tevaughn Campbell to the practice squad for more insurance.
In their week one match-up against the Cardinals, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 385 yards and a trio of scores against a depleted Cardinals secondary that is missing their top two CBs, including All-Pro Patrick Peterson.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see Matt Patricia attempt to abuse whoever plays opposite Casey Hayward in the same manner the Colts did, when they straight-up embarrassed second-year UDFA Brandon Facyson last Sunday.
What’s even more impressive is that Stafford put up those numbers without either Marvin Jones Jr. or Kenny Golladay exceeding 60 yards receiving on the day.
So, in the end, don’t be surprised to see Stafford chuck it over 40 times in this one.
2.) Detroit could also lean heavily on the run game
In his first game following a promising rookie season, running back Kerryon Johnson struggled to find much momentum behind a lackluster Lions offensive line. He and newly-signed CJ Anderson both failed to average 4.0 yards per carry, finishing with 3.1 and 3.2 YPC, respectively.
However, after seeing what Marlon Mack accomplished against this team in week one, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Patricia attempt to use this match-up to get Johnson rolling early on in the year.
By no means is the Lions’ front five anywhere close to that of the Colts, but the Chargers have been exploited by middle-of-the-pack units before. Until they show some major improvement, the Bolts’ run game is a bottom-tier group at stopping the run.
3.) Who is going to help out Keenan Allen in the passing game?
Heading into this season, the top incumbent pass-catchers behind Keenan Allen in the pecking order were Mike Williams and Hunter Henry. With Henry out after suffering a tibia plateau fracture and Williams nursing a knee injury, another receiver is going to have to step up. Running back Austin Ekeler could potentially see an uptick in targets, as well, but who else lining up outside warrants increased looks?
If Williams can’t go, Travis Benjamin in the next man up. Behind him are veterans Geremy Davis (hasn’t recorded a reception since 2015) and Dontrelle Inman, as well as youngster Andre Patton, who was recently promoted from the practice squad as insurance.