Let's breakdown some of the things the San Diego Chargers did well last week against Arizona, and let's look ahead at this week's opponent: the division rival Oakland Raiders
Oh the difference a week makes. During the game against the Seahawks, I stewed and steamed the whole time. I was sitting on my couch, disgusted, yet hopeful. I was sweating. I couldn’t relax, I guess from nerves. I hate to watch the Chargers lose, even more so the way they did.
This week, I couldn’t have been more relaxed. Fortunate enough, in this case, to be in a region of the United States where I can actually watch the Chargers play a home game from the comfort of my own couch (legally), I watched with pure enjoyment as the Chargers easily handled the Arizona Cardinals.
Few teams will offer as little resistance as the Cardinals, but they are still a professional team which had a 2-1 record heading into the game. And they were still thoroughly beaten by our beloved Chargers.
ODDS AND ENDS
* Let’s get this out of the way first. It ended up not mattering. BUT, am I the only one who noticed this? When Sproles fumbled in the first quarter, Kerry Rhodes scooped up the ball and gained possession, then was tripped by Nick Hardwick. Rhodes fell down, got back up and returned the fumble for a TD. He should have been ruled down by contact. I thought that when I saw it live and then it was confirmed during all the replays. How does Norv not challenge down by contact?
* According to Elias stats service, Chargers first team in 23 years to lead league in offense and defense this late in a season
* Only 30 of the 71 points the Chargers have given up have come on normal offensive possessions for the opponent.
* Through 4 games, the Chargers have almost doubled their opponents net yards, 1803 to 942.
* Rivers to Gates is becoming a lot like some of the greatest sports duos of all time; Manning and Harrison, Stockton and Malone, Magic and Kareem, and Ochocinco and Owens. Okay, that last one’s a joke. Here’s to hoping we can hear “Rivers to Gates” for many more seasons.
* Former backup LB Kevin Burnett had the perfect response when asked what the Chargers’ being ranked 1st in offense and defense meant. “Ask me in another 12 weeks (laughter). Ask me in another 12 weeks. Let’s see if we are still having the same conversation.”
* File this in the Underrated Aspect Of A Successful Running Game category: Norv pointed out Monday that Legedu Naanee had an outstanding game run blocking. “We were using him cracking on linebackers, moving him around. On some of those perimeter runs he’s got the key block and he did an outstanding job.”
* Congratulations to Mike “The Tugboat” Tolbert on his first 100 yard game. Too bad for him that Sproles makes as much money in one game as Tolbert will the whole season. Tolbert will get his due.
* Philip Rivers was gasping for air after he hung in the pocket to complete a pass and was pounded by a 290 pound muscle named Darnell Dockett. You have to appreciate the toughness Rivers brings to the Quarterback position week after week.
* And how about this: Rivers leads ALL QBs over past 50 years who have 50 starts or more with average of 27.9 points scored per game.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AGAINST THE RAIDERS
* Signs of life from Al Davis.
* Physicality - Injuries continue to pile up for the Chargers, especially at LB with Jyles Tucker’s torn pectoral muscle against the Cardinals. And this week’s game is not likely to offer any respite. Nick Hardwick estimates he’s missed 20 games from injuries sustained against the very physical Oakland Raiders.
* Rushing - Get ready for more Tolbert/Mathews rushing attack. The Raiders have allowed a league worst 5.3 yards/carry. P.S. We still need a good nickname for that rushing tandem.
* The Streak - The Chargers look to win their 14th game in a row against the Raiders.
* Paul Oliver – Oliver has been getting strong reviews on his speed and instincts at Strong Safety. He’ll likely be the main fill-in for Steve Gregory, who’s suspended 4 games for PEDs.
* Asomugha v. Gates? – After Gates’ dominance last week, could the Raiders match up their best cover corner with a Tight End the whole game? It’ll be interesting to see what the Raiders try to do to neutralize Mr. Gates.
* Linebackers – It doesn’t look like Darren McFadden will be available for the Raiders, but big Michael Bush is no slouch as a Running Back. Will the Chargers lack of depth and experience now available at Linebacker hurt against the run? Or what about against TE Zach Miller, who last week caught 11 passes for 122 yards?
* Road Game – The Chargers have been woeful on the road and wonderful at home. Can they buck the trend this week? Will the Black Hole crowd be able to stay into the game?
The dominance in last week’s game was exciting, but I’m tempering my excitement until I see consistency on the road and at home against competent opponents.
Responding to the excitement of a convincing win over the Cardinals, Philip Rivers said, ”We’ve got a lot of different guys who can do a lot of different things, but, remember, we’re seven days removed from not being very good.”
Time will tell.
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