After a shocking Week One loss at home against a Steve Smith-less Carolina Panthers, the San Diego Chargers were looking to rebound with a win against AFC West rival, Denver Broncos. Different team, different venue, same result and same number of wins in the win column for the 2008 Chargers.
With all eyes on San Diego, or Brett Favre's return to Monday Night Football for the New York Jets, let's take a look at five keys that should decide a favorable San Diego Chargers win against the visiting J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.
Welcome to the Jungle
When filled to near capacity with passionate fans, Qualcomm Stadium can be defining. The stage cannot be any bigger for the Chargers to make a statement in the AFC and the NFL for their lackluster start to another season. Brett Favre, Monday Night Football, all the glitz and glamour.
Favre has been known to play big on Monday Night, but the Chargers and their fans must bring the emotion and intensity that they have undoubtedly lost from losing Shawne Merriman to his season-ending knee injuries.
Football is an emotional game that can easily be won or lost between the ears. On offense, love him or hate him, Philip Rivers needs to keep his intensity and emotion running high to sustain the energy in his huddle and sideline. Defensively, Jamal Williams must engulf Thomas Jones early to get the crowd and his defense pumped.
He's Not Little, He's Just a Little Shorter
Darren Sproles gets the most out of his size, strength and speed than any other NFL player. At 5 feet, 6 inches he's diminutive. But he's 181 pounds of pure explosive strength. With LaDainian Tomlinson nursing a sprained toe/turf toe, Sproles will play a prominent role on special teams and offense.
It's no secret that Sproles has the playmaker feature that the Chargers offense is known for. If he can stretch the Jets defense in space, then it'll open things up for Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates.
Even with a playable LT, Sproles must be utilized by head coach Norv Turner's offensive play calling skills. Leaving a touchdown waiting to be made in Darren Sproles cannot be ignored.
Bring the Heat
While it's still sunny and in the mid 70s to 80s in San Diego, the defensive line and linebacking corps of the Chargers hasn't been so good. Jake Delhomme and Jay Cutler have found more than enough time in the pocket to do significant damage to the Chargers secondary.
Again, with half of the Shawn and Shaun tandem out, the Chargers need to pressure Favre into making his infamous forced throws. Jyles Tucker and Marques Harris must bring some pressure as they will fill the void left by the aforementioned Shawn Merriman.
Playing in the 3-4 defense usually takes out any stunting on the defensive line, so the Chargers need to show Favre different pre-snap formations and come from different angles. Luis Castillo and Igor Olshansky have to step up their upfield rush to neutralize the Jets' air attack of Favre, Jerrico Cotchery and Laverneous Coles.
Favre Follows Cutler
One strong armed quarterback in week two, another gun-slinger in week three. Jay Cutler is a talented young quarterback, but he's not exactly Peyton Manning, nor should he be. But the Broncos did throw all over the Chargers secondary last week, especially to Brandon Marshall. But the astonishing thing about last week was who the Broncos attacked; Antonio Cromartie.
Cromartie was guilty of four penalties and guilty of giving up Rod Smith's single game receptions record to Brandon Marshall, 18 catches for 166 yards and one touchdown.
While Favre does not have a mismatch such as Brandon Marshall, he does have Cotchery and Coles out wide with Jones and Leon Washington coming out of the backfield. If last week was any indication of what to do, Favre will throw towards Cromartie, but it's highly unlikely that Cromartie will have back to back porous games.
Can Quentin Jammer, Antonie Cason, Eric Weddle and Clinton Hart limit the Jets passing game and make Thomas Jones beat them on the ground?
Will History Repeat Itself
On a rainy January evening in 2005, the New York Jets upset the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Playoffs, at Qualcomm Stadium, on prime time television. Will that embarrassing loss comeback into the minds of the Charger players who still remain from that unfortunate night or will the hunger to strike on the team wearing green and white prove too much for Favre and company?
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