San Diego Chargers at Seattle Seahawks
By: Athlon Sports | 9/24/10, 4:41 PM EDT
The Chargers are trying to prove they can win without Vincent Jackson and LaDainian Tomlinson. The Seahawks are trying to prove they can win with Pete Carroll and a revamped roster. Seattle’s defense played well in home opener with Qwest Field crowd noise but couldn’t follow that up in Denver last week. They’ll need any edge they can find against Philip Rivers and his high-powered passing game. Rivers admitted the environment was difficult when he played at Qwest in 2006 and completed just 1-of-10 passes in the first half before engineering a 20–17 win on Christmas Eve. His two TDs in that game? Both to Jackson, including the game-winner with 29 seconds left.
Keys for the Seahawks
• The Seahawks have been stout against the run, ranking fifth in the NFL in yards per game (57.0) and third in yards per carry (2.0). But their key is whether they can pressure opposing quarterbacks, which they did at home in their opener against the 49ers but couldn’t do on the road in Denver. With the crowd-noise boost at Qwest Field, they’ll need to put consistent heat on Rivers to have a ,chance in this one.
• Matt Hasselbeck threw three interceptions last week and has 13 picks in his last five starts. He’s going against a Chargers’ defense that forced six turnovers Sunday, including four interceptions. You do the math.
Keys for the Chargers
• With top draft pick Ryan Mathews fighting an ankle sprain, third-year fullback Mike Tolbert ran for a career-best 82 yards and two TDs last week on 16 carries. If Mathews can’t go, the 243-pounder Tolbert will challenge a Seattle defensive front featuring three 325-pound-plus linemen that has been strong against the run.
• While all the talk has centered around Jackson’s holdout, the Chargers have done a nice job filling in at receiver. More critical in this game figures to be how second-year pro Brandyn Dombrowski handles the left tackle duties in place of fellow holdout Marcus McNeill. Dombrowski will have to battle both the crowd and speed rusher Chris Clemons coming off the edge.
Even if Mathews isn’t healthy, the Chargers have enough offensive weapons to make things difficult for Seattle’s revamped defense. Rookie free safety Earl Thomas will have his hands full with San Diego’s big-play offense, and Seahawks are too inconsistent offensively to win a shootout. San Diego 27–17.