The San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals will each look to take the next step in their regular-season preparations when the two meet each other on Saturday night in Arizona.
The Chargers are 0-2 in the preseason for what it's worth thus far. While you don't put too much stock into a team's record in the exhibition games, it's always nice to pick up a "W" before the regular season gets started. With a new coach at the helm in Mike McCoy, installing the new schemes on offense and defense will continue to be priority No. 1, though.
Arizona has experienced some early success in the preseason under new coach Bruce Arians. The Cardinals have a record of 2-0 and appear to have good depth on defense after allowing just seven points in their first two games.
Typically teams will play their first units the most in Week 3 of the preseason, so this should be as good a look at these two teams as we'll see before the regular season gets underway.
Where: University of Phoenix in Glendale, Ariz.
When: Saturday, Aug. 24 at 10 p.m. ET
Watch: CBS (San Diego, Los Angeles); ABC (Phoenix) check local listings
Live Stream: Preseason Live
Listen: Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line (via Covers)
Spread: Cardinals -4
This is the preseason, so the unpredictability makes the action even harder to project than regular-season games. That being said, the under has to feel like a comfortable pick the way that the Cardinals have been playing across the board.
The Cardinals get the standard home-field advantage here as San Diego is faced with the task of picking up the win on the road. Even with the cheapened stakes of an exhibition game, that adds an extra challenge.
Injury Updates (via CBS Sports)
San Diego Players to Watch: Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen
The biggest question on everyone's mind for the Chargers is whether Philip Rivers can reach the same level of play that made the team a playoff contender from 2006-2010.
However, the answer to that question doesn't just lie in Rivers' head, arm or abilities. It depends on the weapons he has around him. With Danario Alexander out for the season and Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd already showing up on the injury report, receivers like Brown and Allen need to step up.
Brown missed all of 2012 with an ankle injury, but flashed some promise in his 2011 rookie season with 19 receptions for 329 yards. He'll need to be that deep threat once again for the Chargers passing game to get back on track.
Allen will be looking to make his impact felt after being selected in the third round, but that starts with earning his coaches' trust in the preseason. With Royal and Floyd out, opportunity knocks.
Arizona Players to Watch: Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor
The Arizona Cardinals rushing attack was ranked dead last in the league last season at just over 75 yards per game. So what did the Cardinals do to spruce things up in 2013?
They signed Rashard Mendenhall and drafted Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington. Mendenhall appears to be the starter at this point, but he's coming off of a season in which he averaged 3.6 yards per carry and isn't all that exciting.
Taylor and Ellington are reasons to get excited, though. Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated has already praised Taylor's versatility while Ellington has shown flashes of explosiveness (24-yard run against Dallas).
Ryan Williams is another option in the backfield, but he's already dealing with injuries. Taylor could be pushing Mendenhall for carries, and Ellington will be battling to make the final roster. Both are players who need strong showings here.
Prediction: Cardinals 17, Chargers 13
You have to love what the Cardinals have done in the preseason to this point. Even though it was limited action for the starters, they held the Packers to zero points in Week 1 and surrendered just seven to the Cowboys.
Going against a Chargers starting unit that has yet to score a touchdown, the defense should again look like a top-notch unit.
Arians is already improving the Cardinals offense. This should be the next step toward a much better team in 2013 than the one that finished last year at 5-11.
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