San Diego Chargers: Stat Predictions for Key Offensive Players in 2012

Mike WalkuskyContributor IJuly 11, 2012

San Diego Chargers: Stat Predictions for Key Offensive Players in 2012

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    Let's be frank—predicting statistics for the 2012 season is essentially an exercise in futility.

    However, it is currently the most mundane portion of the offseason for the San Diego Chargers, and there is little for San Diego sports fans to be excited about at the moment considering how poorly the San Diego Padres are performing.

    As a result, this is the best time for San Diego sports fans to try and project what the top offensive players on the Chargers will do in the upcoming season.

    Let's take a look at the projections for five of the Chargers' key offensive players in 2012.

Philip Rivers

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    Philip Rivers: 4,650 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 12 interceptions 

    Rivers threw 20 interceptions—the most of his career—last season.

    For the majority of the season, Rivers unleashed ill-advised throw after ill-advised throw, which is something that Chargers' fans were not accustomed to seeing.

    Rivers has loved throwing the deep ball throughout his career, but his deep balls have almost always been smart decisions. This has led to a low number of interceptions for Rivers' career despite his propensity to throw the ball downfield.

    A primary reason for Rivers' poor decisions last season was the constant pressure he faced from opposing pass rushers.

    Once Jared Gaither stepped in as the starting left tackle, however, Rivers performed much better.

    In Gaither's five starts at the end of the season, Rivers racked up 1,413 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.

    Because Rivers will have Gaither at left tackle all year, he should revert back to his 2010 form.

Ryan Mathews

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    Ryan Mathews: 280 carries, 60 receptions, 1,300 rushing yards, 580 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns

    Last season, Mathews showed Chargers' fans why the front office risked so much in order to obtain the running back out of Fresno State.

    On the flip side, Mathews also continued to raise question marks about his ability to stay healthy and hold on to the football.

    Fortunately for Chargers' fans, Mathews has been working hard in the weight room in an effort to not only stay healthy, but refrain from fumbling as well.

    According to the Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, Mathews has tirelessly been performing taxing workouts while keeping a football firmly held against his body.

    Mathews missed two games due to injuries in 2011, but he still finished the year with 1,091 rushing yards and 455 receiving yards.

    With Mike Tolbert in Carolina, Mathews' numbers will only go up.

Robert Meachem

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    Robert Meachem: 65 catches, 950 yards and six touchdowns

    Despite never being a No. 1 wide receiver before, many of Chargers' fans expect Meachem to come in and fill the role of a typical No. 1 receiver.

    Meachem appears to be a perfect fit for the Chargers offense.

    His blend of speed and route running should allow him to get open downfield often in Norv Turner's offense.

    Turner's offense is predicated on making big gains down the field, and it will be exciting to see how Meachem performs.

    Meachem has never experienced the high expectations that he will face in 2012, but he should seamlessly fit in to what the Chargers do on offense. 

Malcom Floyd

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    Malcom Floyd: 55 catches, 975 yards and six touchdowns

    Although many people expect Meachem to be the No. 1 target for Rivers, there's a very good chance that Floyd will fill that role.

    It remains to be seen how Turner will employ Floyd following the departure of Vincent Jackson.

    Floyd already has a good rapport with Rivers, but he has yet to record more than 45 catches in a season.

    In just 12 games last season, Floyd made 43 catches for 856 yards. His 19.9 yards per catch average led the NFL.

    Considering the stats that Floyd racked up last season, it is very plausible that he will record his first 1,000 yard season in 2012.

    The Chargers have two very talented wide receivers in Meachem and Floyd, but it will be very interesting to see who steps up as Rivers' primary target.

Antonio Gates

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    Antonio Gates: 74 catches, 950 yards and eight touchdowns

    For Gates to obtain these numbers, he will have to stay healthy for a change.

    In an effort to stay healthy this season, Gates has vowed to lose weight.

    According to the Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, Gates has changed his eating habits so that he can maintain a lower weight.

    It remains to be seen if Gates' decision will have any effect on his health on the field, but it's nice to see that Gates is concerned about his health.

    When Gates is able to stay on the field, he is still one of the premiere tight ends in the league.

    In just 13 games last season, an oft-injured Gates had 64 catches for 778 yards.

    The loss of Jackson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is disheartening, but the trio of Meachem, Floyd and Gates will be a joy to watch—especially if Rivers is given time in the pocket to deliver precise passes to them.

    Mike Walkusky is a featured columnist on Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter