9/10/13 – by James Fedewa
Week one begins on Monday night in San Diego for the Chargers and Texans. Houston’s defense will not be operating at full strength. Starting Texans outside linebacker Antonio Smith will be suspended this week, and OLB’s Brooks Reed (knee) and Whitney Mercilus (hamstring) & Sam Montgomery (achillies) are not 100% either. Free agent safety Ed Reed has had very limited practiced since becoming a Texan and linebacker Brian Cushing has had some minor knee issues.
San Diego’s will have a new offense and will focus on rushing the ball with an up-tempo quick-strike passing game. Chargers Phillip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Ryan Mathews will be the focal points this week. Rivers will look to reload his career with his new offense and a new offensive line. Mathews is ready to become a premier NFL running back this season, if he can stay health and secure the football.
Matchup of the Night: Left Defensive End JJ Watt vs. Right Guard Jeromey Clary. Watt is the focal point of the Texans 3-4 defense, who will be directly matched up against Clary. Oddly enough, Clary should do well against Watt, as Clary has primarily been a right tackle in his career handling quicker & lighter pass rushers. Watt is an athletic and powerful enough to take on any premier offensive guard in the league and Clary will have a busy day, but we should see Clary fit in well at his new position and inside pass protection. San Diego will look to run the ball directly at Watt, and San Diego rookie Right Tackle DJ Fluker will assist Clary to pave the way for San Diego’s rushers.
Chargers Defensive linemen Corey Liuget, Kendall Reyes and Cam Thomas are young, big, fast and athletic front three with immense talent. Look for this threesome to give Houston’s offensive line very busy night. Include linebackers Dwight Freeney’s pass rushing, Jarret Johnson run stuffing prowess, and Donald Butlers ball hawking ability this Chargers front can be something special. Rookie linebacker Manti Te’o has missed significant time with a foot injury and may not play. San Diego’s secondary is led by safety Eric Weddle, and with new cornerback Derek Cox will be an upgrade from last season.
Texans running back, Arian Foster, has not played a snap in the preseason, limited practice and is coming off a calf injury. First round rookie wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins is coming off a concussion. QB Matt Schaub, WR Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels will look to carry the Texans offense.
Houston is an NFL playoff team, but injuries in week one will only hurt their chances in winning San Diego. Can the Texans depth beat the Chargers starters…
Prediction: Chargers 34, Texans 10 (Ryan Mathews two rushing TD’s, Rivers two Passing TD’s)