CHARGERS FOOTBALL IS FINALLY BACK!!!
We are less than 24 hours away from the start of the 2016 football season, and the anticipation for a new season and fresh start for this Chargers team is through the roof. I’m very excited about this year as well, and I haven’t been for quite a while now to be completely honest. This could be the season where things do in fact get turned around after all the changes and great additions we’ve seen this past offseason.
And how much better of a season opener could you ask for? A divisional match against the Chiefs on the road in Kansas City will be a good one to start the year.
The Chargers had some great things that were going for them in the preseason, and hopefully that could all translate just as well in the regular season. We are in for a plethora of key matchups against our divisional rival, so I have narrowed down those matchups to watch for tomorrow to a list of five. Here is what I will be watching for:
1. Jeremy Maclin vs. Jason Verrett
This is a huge matchup to watch for, especially if you are into fantasy football. Jeremy Maclin is a well known speedster in this league. He’s got great hands and his vertical game is very good. He will most likely be lined up against our No. 1 cornerback, Jason Verrett, as I don’t really see any other Chiefs wide receiver worthy of Verrett’s attention.
The only concern I have here is the safeties, of course. If Maclin gets deep enough down the field, he might just break it for the big play. That’s if Verrett drops out of coverage to pass him onto the safeties. Keep an eye on No. 22, for he will be looking to continue his path of stardom in this league by starting off with a bit of an easier No. 1 wideout to deal with on Sunday.
2. Melvin Gordon vs. Chiefs rush defense
Melvin Gordon is definitely at the top of most of our lists. We are all curious to see how he can handle the starting lineup of the Chiefs’ defense. The absence of Justin Houston should help a little bit, but they do have the depth to help his void, hence Dee Ford (remember when we wanted to draft him?). Gordon has looked way more explosive in the preseason.
He’s been more consistent, more patient and is hitting the holes a lot quicker now in his second year. He just looks much more improved, and a fullback who blocked for him in college (Derek Watt) should help a ton also.
3. Manti Te’o & Denzel Perryman vs. Chiefs offense
I am really looking forward to seeing these two guys play together for a full season. It seemed like the second we decided to bench Donald Butler in favor of Denzel Perryman, everything just changed to the middle linebacker duo with Manti Te’o. Perryman was blitzing most of the time and creating turnovers from his brutal big hits, and Te’o was playing as our coverage linebacker and making sure the tight ends were well guarded. That’s how our middle linebackers should have been playing since Week 1 of last year, not plugging in two coverage-style linebackers to play at the same time.
The Chiefs have a decent offensive line, but the redesigned defensive line should help create some holes for the blitz packages. Keep an eye on these two guys. One will be a tackling machine on defense, and the other will rush the QB and try to get the running back behind the line for a loss.
4. Antonio Gates vs. Hunter Henry
I am very curious to see how we end up using both of these guys on the field. As we all know, Antonio Gates has requested a lighter role on offense going forward. Hunter Henry wasn’t showcased much with the first team in preseason, but when he was on the field, he did make the most of his presence. I expect Gates to be used as a red-zone target. I do want to see him break that tight end touchdown record, and I expect Hunter to be used more on passing downs and on two-tight end sets for run blocking. This should create some big time confusion for the Chiefs’ defense on the field, and it will be fun to see who emerges as the better tight end out of this season long matchup.
5. Keenan Allen vs. Marcus Peters
Ohhh, this will be a fun one. Marcus Peters is coming off a great season in 2015 as one of the best defensive backs to play last year, and Keenan Allen is looking to pick things up where he left off after that season-ending injury. Allen has looked phenomenal in practices and preseason and has completely outplayed one of the best cornerbacks in the league during preseason… yes, Patrick Peterson.
And I expect him to do so with Peters because Allen practices against one of the best cornerbacks in the league everyday in Verrett. They help each other grow better, and that’s what I love about that. Look for Philip Rivers to toss the ball a lot towards Allen in this matchup and not to mention newly acquired Travis Benjamin as well, who will have the easier matchup of the two starting receivers in this game (he will be guarded by Philip Gaines… remember when we talked about potentially drafting him as well?).
Well, there you have it. Those are my five key matchups that I will be watching for tomorrow against the Chiefs. This should be one of the better games we will watch this year, so keep your eyes peeled against our divisional team! Who are you going to watch for tomorrow?