Chargers vs. Titans Key Players

After a hard-fought Week 1 win over the Raiders in Oakland, spirits should be high for the Chargers as they host the Tennessee Titans in a Week 2 matchup.

The key players last weekend? Philip Rivers, Nate Kaeding and the San Diego defense.

Rivers was 24-of-33 for 231 yards and a touchdown and didn’t turn the ball over. He spread the ball out nicely to seven different receivers, with Malcom Floyd leading the way with four catches for 66 yards and a score.

However, the Chargers lacked the killer edge in the endzone, forcing Kaeding to get it done with his leg. The kicker finished with five field goals, including two from 40 yards out or more.

The defense held strong in Oakland and only a late touchdown from the Raiders made the score seem worse than it really was. The Chargers had only given up two Sebastian Janikowski field goals until about a minute was remaining.

Darren McFadden was bottled up, at least in the running game, as he finished with 15 carries for only 32 yards.

This weekend, we can expect San Diego to have a little more luck reaching their full potential offensively in the redzone. The Titans just gave up 34 points to the New England Patriots and looked easily beatable both on the ground and through the air.

There’s also a chance Ryan Mathews could return to action in Week 2, which would obviously be a huge boost to the team’s chances.

That said, anything can happen when you make certain NFL picks, and the Titans have enough talent to get a shock win in sunny California this weekend. San Diego has been known for its inconsistent play throughout the years and can’t afford to slip up against a young and motivated Tennessee team.

Home Opener Could be Blacked Out

It is disappointing to hear that the Chargers could be blacking out their game against Tennessee on the day when the franchise honors the late great Junior Seau. Unfortunately it appears that the rumors are true, according to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, there are still tickets numbering in the thousands left unsold. If San Diego purchased the tickets, or a sponsor decided to do so they could avoid a black out, but as of now it appears that scenario will not take place.

It has been rumored over the past couple years that the Chargers would be interested in moving the franchise to Los Angeles. Black outs like the one that could occur Sunday, just adds to that speculation. Hopefully for the San Diego fans’ sake the Chargers show some class and prevent the game from being blacked out.

Another piece of bad news is that starting cornerback, Quentin Jammer, suffered a broken hand in last Sunday’s game against the Raiders. By no means is this a devastating injury to a cornerback. With a little bit of will power there is little reason why Jammer cannot play against the Titans. The Chargers lack of depth at corner, should be enough motivation for Jammer to tough it out.

Bizarre Victory for San Diego

Over the past few years, it had become a custom to watch the San Diego Chargers’ special teams choke games away. Whether those be Nate Kaeding missing every kick possible against the Jets, or allowing blocked punts and long returns, but for once they did nothing wrong and allowed the opposition to make the mistakes.

The San Diego offense was able to effectively move the ball, and Philip Rivers never put the ball in harms way. Rivers made several great throws on the run, which is uncommon to see from him. Rivers finished 24-33 with 231 yards passing and a touchdown to Malcom Floyd.

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Photo by: Ric Tapia/Icon SMI

The Chargers heavily relied on Rivers arm. Without Matthews at running back San Diego struggled mightily running the ball.

With all the injuries that San Diego has sustained to the offensive line already, it was a pleasant surprise to see that they protected Rivers quite well. There were some leaks, but Rivers did a tremendous job moving around the pocket and delivering passes on the move. The undrafted rookie Mike Harris even played well, but no one was able to open any running lanes for the backs last night.

The San Diego defense played a bend, but don’t break defense last night, and were able to make the big stops when they needed too. They were able to put pressure on Carson Palmer, but their biggest aid were the multitude of mistakes that the Oakland offense and special teams made. One noticeable concern were the amount of comeback routes that Oakland ran with success last night.

Normally the long snapper is not the key to a football game in the NFL, but last night it sure was. Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Condo left the game for the Raiders, forcing Travis Goethel to fill in at the position. Goethel last long snapped in high school and that became quite apparent, when on his first snap he rolled one back to punter Shane Lechler, which set up a Chargers field goal. On his second attempt Lechler lined up closer to Goethel to make the snap easier, but the punt was blocked and set up another short field goal for San Diego.

Then in the fourth quarter, Oakland was forced to punt from the infield and Goethel snapped the ball short again on the infield  sand. This final bad snap was what really ended the game for the Raiders.

San Diego has had a notorious habit of starting seasons off slow, and finishing strong. Hopefully this will be the year where they play strong the entire year and make a deep push into the postseason. Norv Turner and AJ Smith’s jobs depend on it.

Loss Of Matthews Leaves Things Uncertain For Chargers Offense

Coming off a heart breaking 8-8 season in 2011, Chargers fans have been eager to see what the team has in store for the 2012 season.  With a hungry Phillip Rivers ready to regain his elite quarterback status and a mixed bag of young and old players looking to finally bring a Lombardi trophy to the city, the Chargers looked poised to find their way back into the playoffs.

These hopes took a major hit in the first preseason game of the year, however, when Ryan Mathews went down with a broken clavicle.  This puts the Chargers at a severe disadvantage in the weeks coming up without him, as he is their primary running back.  With back-ups such as Jackie Battle and Donald Butler not looking tremendous in the  preseason, many fear that the Chargers may need to go to the air more than they should, which could lead to some bad play calls.

Phillip Rivers is already coming off of a disappointing year that saw him throw a staggering 20 interceptions with only 27 touchdowns for the season.  While he looks determined to get back to his old form, being put into a position where he has little to no running game could be very dangerous for him. He has been known to act rashly when put under pressure, and he will surely be put into the position where he has to throw a great deal more than if he had Mathews behind him, ready to eat up yardage.

When considering NFL picks in the upcoming weeks, you may want to shy away from the Chargers.  They hardly have a reputation for winning a great deal of the games in the past few seasons, and considering their top back is out, their offense may not have the weapons it needs to win their upcoming match-ups.

Chargers Look for Quick Start vs. Raiders

The San Diego Chargers have given Coach Turner one more season to get this team to live up to expectations. A loss on opening weekend to the hated Raiders would not help the cause.

The Bolts, after two straight seasons of missing the playoffs, kick-off this season Monday night when they visit the Black Hole to play AFC West rival Oakland (10:15 pm Eastern, ESPN).

To review, San Diego started 4-1 last year, and considering the way the Chargers had closed seasons in recent years they looked like shoo-ins for the playoffs. But somehow this team lost six games in a row to fall to 4-7. Like clockwork, San Diego finished well, winning four of its last five, to tie Denver and Oakland atop the AFC West at 8-8. But the Chargers lost out on the tie-breakers.

On the other side of this matchup Oakland is working under yet another new head coach this season. Last year the Raiders got to 7-4, then lost four of their last five to end up in the same boat as San Diego. After that they canned Coach Jackson and brought in Coach Allen from Denver.

These two teams split their two games last year, the Raiders winning in San Diego 24-17 and the Chargers ruining the Raiders’ playoff hopes with a 38-26 victory on the last day of the season in Oakland.

In the first meeting between these teams last year the Raiders dominated, outrushing San Diego 191-75 and winning outright as seven-point dogs on the NFL odds.

But in the second meeting the Chargers won the ground war 153-103, scored on a 105-yard kick-off return and got the outright victory as 2.5-point dogs.

On a couple of key personnel notes for Monday’s game San Diego RB Ryan Mathews is very questionable as he deals with the aftermath of a broken collarbone suffered in the first quarter of the first pre-season game against Green Bay. And with LT Jared Gaither out rookie Mike Harris will be making his first NFL start Monday, protecting QB Philip Rivers’ blind side.

As far as the betting on Monday’s game goes several online sportsbooks were listing the Chargers as one- or -two-point favorites as recently as last week, but as of Friday afternoon it was the Raiders who were favored by a point at most NFL odds boards.

Ryan Matthews Doubtful for Monday Night

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Photo by: Ric Tapia/Icon SMI

Matthews was able to work out on Wednesday, but was still not allowed to practice during the contact portions of the day. Matthews had surgery earlier this camp to repair a broken clavicle. Norv Turner was quoted by North County Times stating “He’s doing everything possible to get back.” But, he does not think Matthews will be prepared for game one. If Matthews is not ready Ronnie Brown will be the starter Monday Night, which is not going to excite the Chargers faithful.

Jared Gaither will definitely not be starting Monday Night with his continuing back spasms being a problem. This has been a disappointing pick up for San Diego thus far, and they will be forced to start undrafted rookie Mike Harris at left tackle. This especially hurts Norv Turner’s offense, which is predicated on rushing and a deep passing game. Rivers is going to have his hands full Monday Night against the Oakland defense.