Packers vs. Chargers: Who Has the Advantage at Every Positional Matchup?
On Sunday, the 7-0 Green Bay Packers will travel to San Diego to face off against the 4-3 Chargers. The Chargers are coming off two consecutive losses to the Jets and Chiefs, and have another difficult task as they face the undefeated Super Bowl champs.
Despite the difference in record, both teams match up very well together, as they are led by two of the best quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers, who have plenty of weapons on offense and plenty of help on defense.
It's certainly going to be a good game on Sunday between two strong teams that have the firepower on offense to score points and a solid defense that can make some stops. Here is a breakdown of the two teams, position-by-position, and how they match up against each other.
Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers are two of the best quarterbacks in the league, but both have had very different years. Rodgers has had an MVP-caliber year, throwing for 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Without a doubt, he has been one of the main reasons Green Bay is 7-0.
Rivers, however, has struggled, throwing seven touchdowns against 11 interceptions on the year and accounting for 14 total turnovers, one of which was a late fumble in last week's Monday night game against Kansas City.
While Rodgers and Rivers have had two different years, they are still very close in talent and skill. However, because Rodgers has had such a great year so far, and given Rivers' struggles this year, I give the edge to Rodgers.
Both teams have been using two running backs throughout the games so far. The Packers have been relying on Ryan Grant and James Starks, while the Chargers have used Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert.
Both running tandems have been efficient this year, but because the Packers rely so much more on the passing game, their running backs simply have not accumulated the statistics that the San Diego running backs have, who both account for three touchdowns on the year so far.
When it comes to talent, both teams are fairly equal at running back, but the advantage goes to San Diego since they use their running game so much more.
The Packers and the Chargers both boast a receiving corps that are among the best in the league. The Packers feature Greg Jennings as their No. 1 receiver, but also have Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Donald Driver and Randall Cobb.
The Chargers feature Vincent Jackson as their top receiver, but Malcolm Floyd gets plenty of opportunities as well.
While both teams have great talent at the wide receiving position, the Packers appear to have more depth at receiver, as many of their second string receivers, like Cobb, Driver or Jones, could easily be No. 1 receivers in the league.
The Chargers have arguably the best tight end in the league in Antonio Gates. However, the Packers have arguably the biggest rising star at the tight end position in Jermichael Finley. While Gates has accomplished much more in this league, Finley is so far having a fantastic year, and has huge potential in this league.
It is another close race between the two teams, but I give the edge to the Packers, once again, because of depth, as Finley has four tight ends under him, including two great receiving tight ends in Andrew Quarless and D.J. Williams, and a great blocking tight end in Tom Crabtree. The deep tight end position gives Aaron Rodgers the opporotunity to throw to more weapons than most quarterbacks do. This was apparent in a Sunday night game against Atlanta, where Rodgers threw to a staggering 12 different receivers.
Both offensive lines seem to be off to a fairly good start. While many had questions about the Packers line, they have stepped up despite several injuries, including one to their veteran left tackle, Chad Clifton. Still, they have allowed 16 sacks, which isn't too bad, especially considering how shaky many other teams are at the position.
The Chargers similarly seem like they are pretty stable at the position, giving up 17 sacks on the year, and given the fact that Philip Rivers is less mobile and escapes the pocket less than Rodgers, is quite impressive.
Because the lines both seem fairly stable at both positions, despite the injuries that have hit both teams, I do not think there is much of an edge at all between the two offensive lines.
The Packers defensive line is anchored by young nose tackle B.J. Raji, but also have the formidable Ryan Pickett, who has been a leader and a very solid player on the Packers defense for years.
The Chargers have a young defensive line that seems to be headlined by Corey Luiget, a rookie who was the team's first round pick in 2011. They also have veteran Tommie Harris, a longtime Chicago Bear.
Both teams have a solid defensive line, but because both use their 3-4 defense, there seems to be more of an emphasis on their linebacking corps. In regards to their defensive line, I give the Packers an edge, as they again seem to have the depth to continue to be formidable if their starters went down.
This is where it gets tricky, because both teams have a fantastic linebacking corps that could be the strength of their defense. While the Packers have the relentless Clay Matthews, in addition to solid players in A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop, the Chargers have star linebacker Shaun Phillips, who is having a great year so far, but they also have veterans Takeo Spikes and Nai'l Diggs, who are sure to have an impact as well.
Both teams have very talented linebacking corps, but I am giving the slight edge to the Chargers, who seem to have a more veteran presence at the position. as while the Packers have Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk, they have many young, inexperienced players at the position who still have a lot to prove.
Last year, the Packers had one of the best pass defenses in the league. This year, they are struggling despite their talent at secondary. The Packers have veteran Charles Woodson, who is having a tremendous year so far, as well as Tramon Williams, who is coming off a career year, but has yet to record an interception this year.
In addition, the Packers are without their star safety Nick Collins, who is out for the year with a neck injury, and while Morgan Burnett and Charlie Peprah have filled his shoes well, his absence could explain the weaker pass defense this year.
The Chargers pass defense appears to be a strength for them, as they have veteran Quentin Jammer at cornerback, Eric Weddle at safety and Marcus Gilchrist, a rookie corner who is already making an impact this year.
Because the Chargers pass defense has had a better year so far, I give the edge to San Diego; however, I do believe the Packers pass defense still has its best football in front of them.
The Chargers lost their starting kicker in Week 1 this year when Nate Kaeding went on injured reserve. However, their new kicker, Nick Novak, is having a great year so far, missing only one kick on the year.
However, Mason Crosby has had an even better year, not missing a kick yet this year in addition to kicking the franchise-record longest field goal of 58 yards.
Packer punter Tim "Ginger Wolverine" Masthay is having a very solid year so far, but punter Mike Scifres is considered to be one of the best in the league. He even kicked a field goal in opening week after Kaeding was taken out with an injury.
The Packers and the Chargers both have the talent to make this a very evenly matched game. Looking at the matchups, the Packers would probably get the edge on offense because of all the offensive weapons Aaron Rodgers has been able to throw to, but the Chargers get the edge on defense, as they have a combination of young talent and veteran leadership to make this a very solid unit.
While the Packers certainly have this as well, they have struggled on the defensive side of the ball so far this year, and are going to face a difficult challenge this week against Philip Rivers and a very talented San Diego offense.
While I do think the Packers will win, I expect this game to be very close, as both teams are evenly matched, but the Packers win it by a field goal, 27-24.