The Falcons will travel to the West Coast this week to take on the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers are 2-0 following wins over the Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Titans. The Falcons, of course, are 2-0 after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in week one, and coaxing a whole lot of Manning Face out of the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football in week two. Let’s consider some things to keep an eye on this Sunday afternoon on both sides of the ball.
Falcons Offense vs. Chargers Defense
The Chargers have been stout against the run and are currently 1st in the league in this defensive category, having allowed only 41.5 rushing yards per game. The Falcons’ running game is a weak point in an otherwise impressive offense. Run blocking is not great. The Chargers have allowed an average of 225 passing yards per game, against Carson Palmer and Jake Locker. If the Falcons can establish some kind of run game, it will make it easier for Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense to show off that explosive passing attack, and be honest, that’s what we all want to see on Sunday.
Chargers Offense vs. Falcons Defense
Ryan Mathews, the Chargers’ starting running back, has been out for the first two games of the season due to a broken clavicle suffered in preseason. Against the run, the Falcons are currently 25th in the league, allowing 135 yards per game. So far this season, the Chargers have averaged 90 yards per game rushing, but Mathews could be a very positive influence on this offense, and the Falcons need to contain him.
The Chargers present a real opportunity for Atlanta's pass rush, as Phillip Rivers has been sacked five times in two games. However, Rivers has completed 73.8% of passes this season, and has a QB rating of 110.7 through two games. Malcom Floyd and Robert Meachem are good receivers, and Antonio Gates--one of the better tight ends in the league, when healthy--is expected to play, unless he injures himself again between now and then, which is a very real possibility.
Rivers is a good quarterback, and the Chargers have decent offensive weapons, but I suspect Rivers will be a little sleep-deprived come Sunday from the nightmares he’s been having about Atlanta’s defense. Who can blame him?
In Other News...
It is never easy for any team to travel to the opposite side of the country and play in a different time zone, but Matt Ryan and Mike Smith basically own the West Coast, with a record of 5-0 on the West Coast since 2008.
Sunday will also be a day of reunions. Norv Turner was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco when Mike Nolan was the head coach, and, of course, Michael Turner was a Charger back in the day.
According to this breakdown, Angry Miss Piggy will actually be under center for the Chargers this Sunday: All 32 NFL Quarterbacks and Their Muppet Doppelgängers.