Chargers-Cardinals: 10 Matchups to Watch on Sunday
The San Diego Chargers are looking to rebound from another early season slump.
The Arizona Cardinals are looking to capitalize on the momentum they have from their close win against Oakland last weekend.
This should be a good one, folks.
However, it's Wednesday, so it's not quite time to get into the nitty-gritty just yet. Instead, here are some matchups to watch when Sunday comes around.
1. Calais Campbell Vs. Tyronne Green
Calais Campbell is a big man. At 6'8" and 300 pounds, Campbell can easily muscle around offensive linemen that aren't ready for the task.
Thus, every San Diego Chargers fan is shaking right now.
Campbell will primarily go up against second-year offensive guard Tyronne Green, who will be starting Sunday in the place of the injured Louis Vasquez.
Green is no slack player, but he lacks the starting reps necessary to make everyone feel comfortable with him in.
Considering the breakdown in protection last week against Seattle, this could spell danger for another week for the Chargers.
2. Joey Porter Vs. Brandyn Dombrowski
Brandyn Dombrowski was completely toasted last week against Seattle, letting up two sacks without even putting a hand on the defender.
This week is not much easier.
Joey Porter is well known for his ability to get after the quarterback, and the Arizona Cardinals will surely look to blitz the San Diego Chargers all day long in light of the suspect pass coverage that they showed last week.
Dombrowski is more than capable of handling the work. He has blanked players like DeMarcus Ware. His performance this week will be dependent on whether or not he can calm down and return to good fundamentals.
3. Malcom Floyd Vs. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Philip Rivers got what he needed from Malcom Floyd last week against Seattle, connecting with the wide receiver six times for 97 yards and one touchdown.
This week will be another test of how Floyd deals with the No. 1 receiver spot, as he faces a very good cornerback in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
While Rodgers-Cromartie has yet to intercept a pass this season, he has already put up five passes defended to go along with his 12 tackles.
This kid is deadly if teams don't take him seriously.
If those numbers don't convince you, consider this: Malcom Floyd is 6'5", which gives him a significant advantage over most NFL cornerbacks, who are typically around 5'11".
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is 6'2".
This matchup will come down to raw athleticism.
4. Legedu Naanee Vs. Greg Toler
While Malcom Floyd is occupying Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (and possibly another defender), it will be up to Legedu Naanee to make the most of the one-on-one coverage that he will get against Greg Toler.
Teams have singled him out as the "weaker" of the two cornerbacks, and thus Naanee may see a lot of passes thrown his way.
However, this is another matchup that will ultimately be decided by athleticism. Both are fast. Both are tall.
These two will be a lot of fun to watch.
5. Derek Anderson Vs. San Diego Chargers Defense
Derek Anderson has a long day ahead of him, and there's no getting around that.
To many, the Chargers' record would indicate that they have been struggling as a team to get things done on the field.
While that may be true for special teams, the Chargers have had no problems on defense.
The Chargers are currently fourth in the league in yards allowed per game and sixth in passing yards allowed per game.
Considering how badly Anderson has struggled so far this season, this Sunday should be a day he will want to forget.
6. San Diego Chargers Special Teams Vs. LaRod Stephens-Howling
LaRod Stephens-Howling is almost a carbon copy of Darren Sproles, right down to the measurables.
He is small, fast, and quick and is thus a very scary weapon on return teams.
The Chargers so far this season have shown an inability to cover on special teams, yielding three special teams touchdowns in three games.
So far, the San Diego coaching staff has attempted to remedy this by re-signing safety Quinton Teal and cornerback Dante Hughes.
The question is, will it be enough?
7. The Chargers Defensive Line Vs. Beanie Wells/Tim Hightower
The San Diego Chargers have appeared completely stout on run defense so far this year, letting up on average only 91.3 yards per game.
This is a trend that must continue this week against what could be one of the best running back tandems in the league right now.
Tim Hightower, while not the most consistent of backs, has big play potential, especially on runs to the outside.
Running in rotation with Hightower is Beanie Wells, who is just coming back into the lineup from an injury.
The combination of Wells and Hightower means that the ball could be run in more ways and in more directions than I care to count.
This week will be a great test of the San Diego defensive line to see how well they can cover a good running game.
8. Ryan Mathews Vs. Arizona Cardinals Defense
After a short injury period, Ryan Mathews will be back on the field on Sunday.
The first-round pick is poised to have a good day, and whether he plays well or not, he will help set up opportunities for backups Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert to rip off large chunks of yardage.
While Mathews should have a good day, there is one thing that everyone should watch out for regardless, and that is his ball security.
In his two NFL games so far, Mathews has fumbled the ball twice.
Ideally he has rectified this, but that assumption is impossible to confirm until he can prove it to everyone.
9. Philip Rivers Vs. Arizona Cardinals Secondary
Philip Rivers took a real beating last week and, despite putting up over 450 yards passing, ended the game with a loss.
Have no doubt—Rivers will be out for blood this week.
The Cardinals secondary has been less than impressive so far this season, and they face no easy task this week.
With Rivers fired up, along with a stable of targets that include Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates, Legedu Naanee, and Patrick Crayton, the San Diego Chargers' passing game should be a lot of fun to watch on Sunday.
10. Shawne Merriman/Antwan Applewhite Vs. Arizona Cardinals Offensive Line
Considering his consistency, Shaun Phillips does not have to come into question here. He seems to be headed the right way.
Shawne Merriman, on the other hand, seems to be headed for the unemployment line—fast.
Merriman came out early in last week's game due to an apparent calf injury and did not return.
As of now it is unknown whether or not Merriman will return for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, so the team is prepared to start Antwan Applewhite, the second-year man out of San Diego State.
In the end, it doesn't particularly matter who starts, as both have the same thing to prove. Both players need to show the San Diego coaching staff they provide something that the Chargers need.
You can hope for some good pass rush from this side of the linebacker corps, but don't hold your breath. If Merriman does play, he may very well be out by the end of the game.
If Applewhite plays, he could have the chance to get some pressure on Derek Anderson. Levi Brown and Alan Faneca are not prone to a lot of mistakes, but considering the blitzing schemes Ron Rivera has been putting together, Applewhite could very well find his way into the offensive backfield.
There are a lot of great matchups to watch here, and that should make for an exciting game.
Have questions? Comments? I undoubtedly left out a lot, so feel free to share more matchups.
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