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Chargers: Bold predictions for Preseason Week 1 versus Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 11: Wide receiver Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers and defensive end Jacquies Smith #96 of the Arizona Cardinals during the preseason NFL game at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 11: Wide receiver Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers and defensive end Jacquies Smith #96 of the Arizona Cardinals during the preseason NFL game at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Chargers look to face off against the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night, and it’s great to have football back once again.

Chargers football is back, although it’s only exhibition football. Still, there are many interesting things to watch for during this preseason and many story lines around the league. Football games are almost never what everyone expects, but there are always a few surprises per game that shocks both experts and casual fans alike.

In this article series, which will be published every week prior to each Chargers game, bold predictions will be made in an attempt to predict those surprises. Here are three:

Easton Stick rushes for less than 25 yards.

Stick will be one of the most interesting players to watch in the preseason, not only for the Chargers but for the whole league.

Everybody knows he can run, including the Chargers coaching staff. What they will want to know is, can he throw? Anthony Lynn and company will want to see how Stick plays from the pocket against real opposition, as well as limit the amount of times he will be hit.

It will be interesting to see how well he handles pressure and evades sacks, because even if the Cardinals don’t have a lot of depth behind their defensive starters, the Chargers offensive line is likely to allow some pressure throughout the game. Stick will keep a cool head in the face of pressure, and will be looking to throw the ball as he extends the play instead of tucking the ball and running.

A couple of scrambles could be enough to reach 25 yards, and the coaching staff may call some designed quarterback runs as they try out their post-Rivers offense, which makes this a very bold prediction. After all, Stick rushed for nearly 46 yards per game over four years in college (5.9 yards per rush); why would he be limited to less than a putrid 25? Fans may have to wait longer to see their dual-threat draft pick expand upon his opportunities.

Cardinals quarterbacks are intercepted five times.

The Chargers defense is solid and full of playmakers. They will be facing a first-year head coach, with a rookie quarterback, three rookies behind Larry Fitzgerald on the wide receiver depth chart and one of the worst offensive lines in football.

Kyler Murray is probably going to see a lot of action, but when he leaves the field, he will give the reins to the offense to Brett Hundley, who owns a 9-13 TD-INT ratio and a 67.9 passer rating. The other two quarterbacks on their roster are Charles Kanoff and Drew Anderson; neither of them has played a single regular season snap.

The Chargers defense is not only one of the best in the league, but also has some great depth at the linebacker position and in the secondary. With so few roster spots being fought over by so many talented players, the JackBoyz will make plays all over the field and pick the ball five times.

A Chargers wide receiver rushes for 30 yards

Preseason is the perfect time for offensive coaches to try out new things. Ken Whisenhunt isn’t the most creative offensive coordinator, but he has called creative plays before.

Here's Philip Rivers enjoying the view of the Chargers running the wildcat pic.twitter.com/VbJjcNNuGy

— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 29, 2017

Whisenhunt has also called jet sweeps before, and one of the speedy receivers on the team will break free on a run. Whether it’s Travis Benjamin (game-time decision), Artavis Scott, or even Mike Williams (who scored on a toss last season against the Chiefs), one of the Chargers’ playmakers will rush for at least 30 yards.

How Austin Ekeler fared as the feature back. Next

In football, one can always expect the unexpected. To keep track of these bold predictions, look for next week’s article as the regular season comes closer.

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