The Chargers may be 2-0 this year, but they've gone through two opponents who didn't stand much of a chance considering their current state. Mike Smith's squad poses a tougher challenge for San Diego, there's no denying that.
I'm sure you've already seen the statistics, but Smitty team's are 5-0 on the West Coast, and the Falcons are 5-0 in San Diego. When you add that to the momentum they're riding after Monday night's victory, you have a dangerous division leader to take on.
As Atlanta heads out to the land discovered by the Germans in 1904 (HISTORICAL DISCLAIMER: this is a quote from Anchorman, not what really happened), let's take a look at three facets of San Diego's game that can be exploited on Sunday.
Opposing offensive line: According to Pro Football Focus, the Chargers O-line is not very good. Now it doesn't say that in those exact words, but just take a look at the stats. From what we've seen in the first two weeks, we can presume the Falcons pass rush has a favorable matchup here. Left tackle Mike Harris holds a rating of -4.2 in pass protection and -7.0 overall after allowing 11 hurries and committing two penalties in two games.
On the other side of the line, Jeromey Clary hasn't been much better, rating a -3.5 overall while allowing three sacks, five hurries and one hit in 2012. Philip Rivers was under pressure 42.3 percent of the time he dropped back in his first two matchups. That's almost as bad as Jay Cutler (44.4 percent). Rivers is still managing to make some good throws under duress, but it's clear the Falcons will have their chances to take him down. Mike Nolan needs to crank up the aggression this week.
San Diego is also rated as the fourth-worst run blocking team. Those stats are diminished simply because they haven't had their No. 1 running back in action. The line has not performed well, sliding by against lesser opponents. Atlanta won't be a walk over like Tennessee and Oakland.
Targeting corners: Antoine Cason, one of the Chargers starting corners, was thrown at six times by Jake Locker last weekend. Locker completed four of those passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Gilchrist has been thrown at three times in primary coverage. One of those three went for a touchdown. Atari Bigby is allowing an average of 18.4 yards per catch, with opposing QBs rating 104.0 throwing on him. Starting to feel good about these guys?
Quentin Jammer and Eric Weddle are both solid in coverage, but if Matt Ryan can focus on the lesser of the competition in San Diego, he'll be in for another impressive day.
Poor receiving cast: Robert Meachem was the big signing of the offseason to replace Vincent Jackson in San Diego. Go ahead and have a laugh, I'll wait. Through two games with his new team, Meachem is on a torrid pace. He has two catches for 49 yards, blowing opponents away wherever he goes. It's clear his chemistry with Rivers isn't where it needs to be.
Malcom Floyd is the only receiver who's stepped up in 2012. Antonio Gates is already struggling with injuries (big surprise), but he's looking like he'll play. After seeing the Falcons handle Peyton Manning, it's hard not to expect a similar performance against a team one one real weapon at wide receiver and an oft-injured tight end.
Where do you guys think the Falcons have the biggest advantage against the Chargers?