Here at week nine of the NFL season the San Diego Chargers find themselves at 4-3 and in a three way tie for first place in the division they should be running away with. They also find themselves staring down the barrel of a two-game losing streak and now the Super Bowl Champions are coming to town. The undefeated, high scoring juggernaut Super Bowl champions no less.The question bears asking. Can the Chargers beat the Packers? Let’s look at the facts.
The Chargers have not played a complete game all season. They play well for a half and the other half they’re sleepwalking. It is a small miracle they have a winning record right now with the way they’re playing.
Philip Rivers has thrown an alarming amount of interceptions. Granted, a small handful of those interceptions were not his fault. Batted balls happen. Like last season, Rivers is trying too hard to get everyone involved, especially Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates when he is on the field. Rivers hasn’t had a great game yet either. He plays great for one half and fizzles for a half.
The play calling has been horrendous at times. The last two minutes of the Jets game was abysmal. The end of the Kansas City game was terrible. (Two clock killing kneel downs anyone?) That all can’t be put on Rivers. Norv Turner is calling those plays and for all the credit he gets for being an offensive genius, his play-calling has been suspect even in the games the Chargers have won. Playing it safe won’t beat the Packers and will get the Chargers slaughtered at home.
On the other side of the coin…
The Chargers must realize its now or never. This is the time in the season when the Chargers flip the switch and reel off a long string of wins and finish the season 6-2 or 7-1. The Chargers have the Packers at home then the Raiders on Thursday. Two losses could drop the Chargers out of first place and into the cellar staring at the Broncos. Winning this game would give the Chargers momentum and the swagger they have been missing the whole season. A win of this magnitude would provide the galvanizing effect that results in a 6-2 or 7-1 second half of the season.
Antonio Gates will play two games in a row for the first time in what seems like forever. The Packers have their version of Gates in tight end Jermichael Finley. The key to the game could be which team defends the others tight end better.
Philip Rivers is due to have a monster game. Nevermind yardage totals, he had 369 yards against the Chiefs in a losing effort. Rivers has yet to throw the 300 yard, three touchdown game we have come to know and love from him. Rivers throws 30 touchdowns a year and is dreadfully below that number. What better to fuel the fire we know he has than a showdown against the league’s best quarterback?
Ryan Mathews won’t play but Mike Tolbert is a solid rusher capable of extending drives with power running which will keep Aaron Rodgers on the bench. The Packers don’t have a rushing attack which is why Rodgers is posting such gaudy passing numbers. Keeping the ball in Tolbert’s hands on bubble screens and power runs will go a long way to grounding the Packers.
The problem in every loss has been turnovers. If the Chargers can play without turning the ball over they can beat anyone. As we have seen this season, that is easier said than done.
The answer is yes. The Chargers can beat the Packers. At some point every season pride kicks in and the Chargers man up and take care of business. The Chargers will be ready for this game. Green Bay is awesome. Rodgers is the best in the league this season. His receivers aside from Greg Jennings aren’t anything to write home about but they are so deep at receiver Rodgers can get the job done. The Chargers have a better fleet of receivers but they can’t stay healthy. Nonetheless, if the Chargers offensive line can keep Rivers jersey clean the Chargers can win. By the way, a few less holding penalties would be nice. (I’m talking to you Marcus McNeil! You’re better than that!) Green bay has a much better defense than the Chargers in terms of pass rush but they can be had in the secondary as long as they steer away from Charles Woodson.
I did not pick the Chargers to win the game and very few people have. However, as we saw against New England and the Jets the Chargers can take the fight to the best teams in the league and do well enough to get the win. The talent is there. Turnovers are the reason the Chargers and Packers aren’t a battle of unbeaten teams. Rain is forecast in San Diego today, notorious turnover-producing rain. Still, the energy of the home crowd for the first time in three weeks will energize this team and IF (and I know that’s a BIG if) they don’t turn over the ball the Chargers will walk away with the win and the swagger. That lame Super Chargers disco song will play all night and we will love every second of it. Time to BOLT UP!!