NFL 2010 Preview: San Diego Chargers Season Predictions
With their last pre-season game taking place tonight, the San Diego Chargers will look ahead to the beginning of their 2010 season with high expectations and will set the bar higher than they have in quite some time.
There's talent up and down this roster on both sides of the ball. They have a talented quarterback who is another year smarter. A up and coming running back that has just about earned the respect of his coaches, teammates, and even the media. A strong offensive line and a talented corps of receivers.
Where the Chargers will need to get better is on the defensive side of the ball. Sure they gave up less than 20 points per game on average, but if you look at a few of their early games, they were giving up big points.
Their line-backing corps needs to be stronger and their secondary needs to be faster. Sure up both of those and the Chargers will be a team to be reckoned with in 2010.
Here is a breakdown of their 2010 schedule complete with predictions of each and every game this season.
Sept. 13 at Kansas City
The Chargers will open their season on the road against a Kansas City Chiefs team that finished with just four wins last season.
They picked apart Kansas City last season to the tune of a 37-7 blowout win, also on the road, in the season's seventh week.
I don't see this game going any differently.
Prediction: Chargers 31 Chiefs 14
Sept. 19th Vs Jacksonville
The 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars finished their season with a 7-9 record and their star running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, has been sidelined for the last two weeks due to an apparent knee injury.
While the team says he'll be ready for week one, he will have to show that he's strong in practice before they throw him into game action.
As for quarterback David Gerrard, his completions, pass percentage, and total yardage were all down from 2008 to 2009 and his passing touchdowns (15) stayed the same.
Defensively, it'll be a long game for the Jaguars against a high powered Chargers' offense.
Prediction: Chargers 37 Jaguars 17
Sept. 26th at Seattle
The Seattle Seahawks will usher in a new season under a brand new coach, former USC head coach Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks were towards the bottom of the NFL on both sides of the ball. On offense, they averaged just 17.5 points per game and 316.8 yards per game while giving up 24.4 points per game and 356.4 total yards per game.
With no real threat on offense between quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who threw the same number of touchdows (17) as he did interceptions, and running backs Julius Jones, who saw the end zone just twice last year, and Justin Forsett, points may be hard to come by again in 2010.
If the 'Hawks haven't fixed their defense, the Chargers may not have a hard time going up and down the field in this one.
Prediction: Chargers 27 Seahawks 10
Oct. 3 Vs Arizona
The Arizona Cardinals haven't even broken camp and there's already turmoil within the team. Quarterback Matt Leinart thought he'd be the starter after Kurt Warner retired this past season. However, it didn't work out that way as the Cardinals' organization decided on former Browns' quarterback Derek Anderson.
Needless to say, Leinart wasn't happy with the decision and, according to the Arizona Daily Sun, the Cardinals are looking to trade the former star from USC.
The Cardinals, with Warner, put up almost 24 points (23.4) and 350 yards (344.4) per game but with a younger Anderson and one of the most talented receivers in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald, they could be a better team than last year.
As for the Chargers, it will depend how they do on defense and keeping Fitzgerald from becoming a problem. It'll be close but a win for San Diego.
Prediction: Chargers 24 Cardinals 21
Oct. 10th at Oakland
The Oakland Raiders have always been a thorn in the side of the San Diego Chargers which proved itself again last season. Through their two meetings, both won by San Diego, the total margin of victory was just 12 points including a four point win the 2009 season opener in Oakland.
The Raiders were the second worst team in the NFL in both points (12.3) and total yards (266.1) per game last season, just above the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns respectively.
Defensively, they weren't much better giving up 23.7 points and 361.9 yards per game last year.
Despite their dismal numbers from last season, they always seem to get up for a game against the Chargers, regardless of how poorly they might play against any other team.
Prediction: Chargers 21 Raiders 15
Oct. 17th at St. Louis
The St. Louis Rams have been more than impressed with their first round draft pick in former Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Sam Bradford during the pre-season.
Their rookie quarterback will try to improve a team that won just one game last season and was dead last in the NFL in points per game (10.9) and 27th in yards per game (279.4). Defensively, they were 29th in points allowed (27.3) and 27th in yards allowed (372.8) per game.
Don't expect Bradford to be the savior of this team just yet.
Prediction: Chargers 34 Rams 7
Oct. 24th Vs New England
In what should be the Chargers first real test of the 2010 season, Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and the New England Patriots come to town.
What will provide a lift for this Patriots team is the return of wide receiver Wes Welker who missed all of last season after undergoing knee surgery. While he may not be at full strength, it's only a matter of time before he's the threat he used to be.
Even without Welker, the Patriots were sixth in the NFL in points (26.7) and third in yards (397.3) per game. Not to mention they're still led by quarterback Tom Brady.
The Chargers secondary will have a tough time stopping Brady, Welker, or Moss on this day.
Prediction: Patriots 27 Chargers 21
Oct. 31st Vs Tennessee
The Tennessee Titans will bring fantasy football's top running back, Chris Johnson, to town to give the Chargers and big time test of their defensive line.
Last season, Johnson rushed for over 2,000 yards (2,006) and added 14 touchdowns on the ground to go along with two more through the air. Stopping him will be the one key to the game for a Chargers' defense that gave up 117.6 rushing yards per game last season.
Starting quarterback Vince Young has a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season to prove that he is the guy for the Titans' franchise and he's looked as confident as ever during training camp. If he brings that confidence into San Diego, the Titans could be tough.
Prediction: Chargers 23 Titans 21
Nov. 7th at Houston
The Houston Texans are coming off a 9-7 season with a team that, in my own opinion, is more talented than their nine wins.
Quarterback Matt Schaub could be one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the NFL, setting career highs in passing yards (4,770), best in the NFL last season, and touchdowns (29) finishing fourth among NFL quarterbacks.
Adding to the offense this season is first year running back Arian Foster who was an undrafted free agent last year. He carried the ball 54 times last season for 257 yards and three scores. He will be number one on the depth chart in front of another talented running back in Steve Slayton.
Chargers will take advantage of a Houston defense that gave up 20.8 points per game and 217.9 passing yards per game.
Prediction: Chargers 32 Texans 17
Nov. 22nd Vs Denver
The Denver Broncos, who finished 8-8 last season, were the only team that finished anywhere close to the Chargers. This season doesn't look to be much different.
What was surprising from last year is the way both matchups finished. In the first game between the two teams, Denver took a 34-23 decision at San Diego. However, back in Denver, the Chargers got revenge to the tune of a 32-3 beat down.
Kyle Orton will be the starter for Denver while former Notre Dame star, and Cleveland reject, Brady Quinn will back him up. However, the media has been eating up former Florida star Tim Tebow during training camp and it wouldn't shock me if he's called upon earlier than most would think.
Prediction: Chargers 27 Broncos 24
Nov. 28th at Indianapolis
After playing at home for three of their last four games, the Chargers will go back out on the road to take on Peyton Manning and the high powered offense of the Indianapolis Colts.
Coming off a 14-2 season and a disappointing Super Bowl loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Colts look to get back to the big game, but win it this time. He will have his favorite target in wide receiver Reggie Wayne returning as will Piere Garcon and running back Joseph Addai.
The Colts were seventh in the NFL in points (26.0) and ninth in yards (363.1) yards per game last season. Defensively, the Colts finished eighth in points against (19.2) but 18th in yards allowed (339.2) including giving up 126.5 rushing yards per game.
Prediction: Colts 27 Chargers 26
Dec. 5th Vs Oakland
After winning the first showdown in the fifth week of the NFL season, the Chargers will welcome in the Raiders to Jack Murphy (don't call me Qualcomm) Stadium for the second game of the series.
This won't go much different from the first time these two teams met. It was a four point win for San Diego in the first meeting last season, it was eight points the second time around.
The Chargers won by six in this year's first meeting and will extend that the second time.
Prediction: Chargers 27 Raiders 14
Dec. 12th Vs Kansas City
The Chargers will play their fifth home game in their last seven games and will face Kansas City for the second time this season.
The first game didn't go so well for the Chiefs and, being in San Diego, it's another game for the Chargers' offense to go up and down the field on their defense.
Dec. 16th Vs San Francisco
As the weather starts to turn colder, the battle between northern and southern California will take place as the San Francisco 49ers take a trip south to take on the San Diego Chargers.
The 49ers, and head coach Mike Singletary, are on the upswing, are becoming one of the NFL's up and coming teams, and are the favorite in the NFC West.
Alex Smith will be the starting quarterback for the 49ers this season, backed up by former overall number one pick of the Houston Texans, David Carr.
While they were one of the best teams defensively last season, giving up 17.6 points per game, they were giving up almost 230 passing yards per game (229.4). That's where the Chargers will take advantage in this one.
Prediction: Chargers 21 49ers 17
Dec. 26th at Cincinnati
The Cincinnati Bengals, with arguably the most colorful locker room in the entire NFL with guys like Chad Ocho Cinco, Terrell Owens, Adam "Pacman" Jones, and Tank Johnson, will welcome in the San Diego Chargers for an after Christmas special.
There's no quesion that Carson Palmer is still among some of the top quarterbacks in the league but the Bengals were among the bottom half in passing yards (180.6) last season but made up for it on the ground, averaging 128.5 yards per game.
Where this game will be won for Cincinnati is through the air with Palmer having two deep ball threats in Ocho Cinco and T.O.
Prediction: Bengals 28 Chargers 17
Jan. 2nd at Denver
The season finale will be against the Denver Broncos in what should be a very cold, and snowy, Denver, Colorado.
The Chargers won the first of the two meetings but playing a game in weather like this will prove difficult for a team that is used to playing a warmer climate.
Where this game will be won is on the ground with a healthy dose of Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles splitting the carries and wearing out the Denver defense.
This one will be close, but the Chargers come out on top.
Prediction: Chargers 17 Broncos 13