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2018 Regular Season
Preview: Cards @ Chargers

Setting the Stage
Cards are #32! (No, really, that's how USA Today ranks us). Chargers are 7 & 3. They've got a primo defense centered around Joey Bosa.Chargers are fighting for a Playoff and Super Bowl spot. Cardinals are playing for pride and individual survival (both of players and coaches). Chargers - led by a veterab QB (Phillip Rivers) have been around the block a few times. Cards are breaking in a talented but erratic rookie. Last week, the Cardinals reached into their "Various Ways You Can Lose" manual and managed to put an "X" in just about every box. Chargers lost 23 - 22 to the Broncs last Sunday. Game will be telecast (FOX) at 4:05 pm (East Coast).

Chargers' Last Game
Amazingly like our last week's game vs. the Raiders - We lost by a FG on the last play of the game after a series of blunders. Chargers lost on a 4th quarter field goal.

(Note - NFL changed their website and game-logs are only available on a hit or miss basis. The following is a scoring summary by quarter:

First Quarter
Key Plays:

Los Angeles Chargers - (12:27) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass deep middle to K.Allen to DEN 49 for 27 yards (D.Stewart) [B.Chubb].

Los Angeles Chargers - (10:22) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short middle to K.Allen to DEN 34 for 7 yards (D.Stewart).

Los Angeles Chargers - (9:32) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short right to A.Gates to DEN 20 for 14 yards (S.Cravens).

2 penalties on M. Pouncey force Chargers to opt for a FG.

Los Angeles Chargers - (7:05) M.Badgley 46 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-M.Windt, Holder-D.Jones. Chargers 3 - Broncos 0.

Denver Broncos - (6:22) P.Lindsay up the middle to DEN 24 for 7 yards (J.Brown).

Denver Broncos - (4:51) C.Wadman punts 52 yards to LAC 16,

Los Angeles Chargers - (3:56) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass deep left to M.Williams pushed ob at LAC 45 for 27 yards (B.Roby).

Los Angeles Chargers - (3:18) P.Rivers pass deep middle to V.Green to DEN 29 for 26 yards (J.Simmons, W.Parks).

Chargers move to Den 27 but have to settle for FG.

Los Angeles Chargers - (:45) M.Badgley 45 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-M.Windt, Holder-D.Jones.Chargers 6 - Broncos 0.

First Quarter Score: Chargers 6 - Broncos 0.

Second Quarter
Encroachment penalty (Mebane) moves Denver to its own 30 to start the 2Q.

Denver Broncos - (12:58) (Punt formation) C.Wadman pass short left to A.Janovich pushed ob at LAC 41 for 12 yards and a first down. (D.Watt).

Denver Broncos - (12:14) P.Lindsay up the middle for 41 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Broncos 7 - Chargers 6.

Los Angeles Chargers - (10:27) P.Rivers sacked at LAC 37 for -5 yards (A.Gotsis).

Los Angeles Chargers - (9:17) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short left intended for Ty.Williams INTERCEPTED by C.Harris at LAC 46. C.Harris pushed ob at LAC 46 for no gain (Ty.Williams).

Denver Broncos - (6:57) P.Lindsay up the middle on 4th & 1 to LAC 16 for no gain (J.Brown; K.Emanuel).

Los Angeles Chargers - (5:31) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short left to M.Gordon to DEN 39 for 32 yards (C.Harris; J.Simmons).

Los Angeles Chargers - (3:25) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass deep right to M.Williams pushed ob at DEN 4 for 29 yards (T.Brock).

Los Angeles Chargers - (2:45) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short middle to K.Allen for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN. PENALTY on LAC-K.Allen, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced between downs. Chargers 13 - Broncos 7

Denver Broncos - (2:24) (Shotgun) C.Keenum pass short right to P.Lindsay to LAC 47 for 11 yards (J.Addae).

Los Angeles Chargers - (:12) (Shotgun) M.Gordon left tackle to LAC 39 for 20 yards (D.Stewart).

Los Angeles Chargers - (:05) (Shotgun) P.Rivers sacked at LAC 30 for -9 yards (B.Chubb).

Second Quarter Score: Chargers 13 - Broncos 7

Third Quarter
Los Angeles Chargers - (15:00) P.Rivers pass deep left to Ty.Williams to LAC 44 for 19 yards (D.Stewart).

Los Angeles Chargers - (13:38) (Shotgun) M.Gordon left tackle to DEN 45 for 2 yards & a 1st down. (D.Stewart).

Los Angeles Chargers - (13:03) (Shotgun) A.Ekeler left end to DEN 28 for 17 yards (J.Simmons; C.Harris).

Los Angeles Chargers - (12:15) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short right to M.Gordon pushed ob at DEN 13 for 15 yards (D.Stewart).

Los Angeles Chargers - (10:02) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short left to A.Gates for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN (kick failed) - Chargers 19 - Broncos 7

Los Angeles Chargers - (5:10) P.Rivers pass short left to K.Allen pushed ob at DEN 36 for 16 yards (C.Harris). Penalty on DEN-C.Harris, Defensive Pass Interference, declined.

Los Angeles Chargers - (3:55) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short right intended for T.Benjamin INTERCEPTED by V.Miller [W.Parks] at DEN 40. V.Miller to LAC 18 for 42 yards (T.Benjamin).

DEnver Broncos - (2:28) R.Freeman up the middle for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Chargers 19 - Broncos 14.

Third Quarter Score: Chargers 17 - Broncos 14

Fourth Quarter
Denver started off the quarter with a big gainer -

Denver Broncos - (15:00) (Shotgun) C.Keenum pass short middle to C.Sutton to LAC 15 for 39 yards (A.Phillips).

Denver Broncos - (12:56) (Shotgun) C.Keenum pass short right to P.Lindsay pushed ob at LAC 2 for 6 yards for a 1st down. (M.Davis).

Denver Broncos - (12:20) (Shotgun) Direct snap to P.Lindsay. P.Lindsay left end for 2 yards, TOUCHDOWN (2 pt conversion fails. Denver 20 - Chargers 19.

Los Angeles Chargers - (12:11) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short right to A.Ekeler to LAC 45 for 17 yards (J.Simmons).

Los Angeles Chargers - (10:02) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short right to A.Ekeler to DEN 21 for 23 yards (C.Harris; D.Stewart).

Los Angeles Chargers - (6:51) M.Badgley 30 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-M.Windt, Holder-D.Jones. Chargers 22 - Denver 20.

Denver Broncos - (6:42) C.Keenum pass short right to E.Sanders to DEN 39 for 13 yards (C.Hayward). FUMBLES (C.Hayward), RECOVERED by LAC-J.Brown at DEN 37. J.Brown to DEN 37 for no gain (G.Bolles). Denver challenged the pass completion ruling, and the play was REVERSED. C.Keenum pass incomplete short right to E.Sanders (C.Hayward).

Denver Broncos - (6:38) (Shotgun) C.Keenum pass short middle to E.Sanders to DEN 41 for 15 yards (A.Phillips).

Denver Broncos - (4:48) (Shotgun) C.Keenum pass deep left intended for E.Sanders INTERCEPTED by A.Phillips at LAC 14. A.Phillips to LAC 13 for -1 yards (E.Sanders). PENALTY on LAC-J.Addae, Defensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at DEN 47 - No Play.

Los Angeles Chargers - (3:45) M.Gordon up the middle to LAC 23 for 3 yards (J.Jewell).

Los Angeles Chargers - (3:33) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short right to A.Gates to LAC 49 for 25 yards (J.Simmons).

Los Angeles Chargers - (1:58) D.Jones punts 40 yards to DEN 8, Center-M.Windt, fair catch by R.Cracraft.

Denver Broncos - (1:28) (Shotgun) C.Keenum pass short left to E.Sanders to LAC 49 for 38 yards (J.Brown).

Denver Broncos - (:20) (Shotgun) C.Keenum pass deep middle to C.Sutton to LAC 16 for 30 yards (D.James).

Denver Broncos - (:03) B.McManus 34 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-C.Kreiter, Holder-C.Wadman. Denver 23 - Chargers 22.

Final Score: Denver 23 - Chargers 22

Raider vs Charger Game Stats -

Total Net Yards: Chargers 479

Total Penalties: Raiders 14 for 120

Time of Poss. Raiders 37:49

Passing - Rivers 28/43 for 401 yds, 2 TD's and 2 Ints

Rushing - M Gordon 18 carries for 69 yds, 0 TDs. Ekeler 6 carries for 29 yds and 0 TD's.

Receiving - K Allen 9 for 89 and a TD, M Gordon 6 for 87 yds and Gates 5 for 80 yds & a TD

Season Player Stats

Passing \
(Rivers )
- 211 for 315 (67.0%), 9.1 YPA, 23 TDs, 6 Ints, Sacked 15 times Rating 112.14

(Gordon) - 143 carries for 741 yds (5.2 YPC), 7 TDs
(Ekeler) - 65 carries for 374 yrd (5.8 YPC) 0 TD''s

62 for 776 yds,12.5 YPC
42 for 448 yds, 10.7 YPC

T Williams and M Williams have 5 TD catches apiece followed by Gordon with 4.

(D James) - 71 Tackles
(J Brown) - 53Tackles
(Addae) - 54 Tackles
(Perryman) - 51 Tackles

(King leads with 3 interceptions. 7 others have one pick apiece)

Ingram leads with 5.5 Rochell has 4.5. D James is credited with 3.5. Philon has 2.5.

Field Goals
Badgely - 8 for 8 over 20 yds

Net Punting Yards
Jpnes - 38.9

Team Season Stats

First Downs - Chargers 208 - Opp 203

Rushing 1st Downs - Chargers 64 - Opp 63

3rd Down Conversions: Chargers 42/112 - Opp 53/129

4th Down Conversions: Chargers 4/5 Opp 8/13

OffensiveYards - Chargers 4008. /Opp 3534

Off YPP -Chargers 6.9 /Opp 5.7

Rushing YPP Chargers 4.9 /Opp 4.6

Sacks By - Chargers 26 /Opp 16

Time of Poss - Chargers 30:45/29:15

Chargers in a Nutshell
At first glance, Chargers come across as a conservative team that (last game notwithstanding) doesn't let mistakes beat them But a closer look tells you that in each category, the Chargers gain a slight edge - a couple of percentage points better than average in completion percentage or yards per catch, average ground yards etc.

Before last Sunday, the Chargers had turned the ball over just three times total during their six-game winning streak. They are 7-0 this season when committing one or no turnovers.

Chargers Offense

QB ..17 Rivers...03 G Smith

Running Backs
RB....28 Gordon...30 Ekeler...32 J Jackson...38 Newsome
FB....34 Watt

Wide Receivers
WR....13 K Allen...81 M. Williams...11 G Davis
WR ...16 T Williams...12 T Benjamin

Tight Ends
TE......88 V Green...85 Gates...80 Culkin

Offensive Line
LT.......76 Okung i...68 T Scott
LG    ..66 Feeney....61 Quessenberry...64 Toner
OC    .53 Pouncey
RG.....75 Schofield...77 Lamp
RT    ..69 Tevi...72 Barkesdale

Cardinal Defense

Defensive Interior Line
DE - 44 Golden, 91 Mayowa
DT - 98 Peters, 90 Nkemdiche
DT - 95 Gunter, 72 Pierre
DE- 55 C Jones, 59 Zach Moore

SAM - 43 Reddick, 92 Gardeck, 59 J Walker
MLB - 57 Bynes, 47 Zeke Turner
WILL - 20 Bucannon, 51 Hodges

Defensive Backs
LCB - 21 Peterson, 26 B Williams
RCB - 23 Benwikere, 28 J Taylor
SS - 36 Baker, 30 Ford
FS - 41 Bethea, 38 Boston
, 40 Tillman*

Matchup: Chargers Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Rivers is the only quarterback in the league to throw at least two touchdown passes in each game this season...Top target is Keenan Allen who has hauled in 62 passes this season for 776 yards and three touchdowns...Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams are big-play threats who lead the team lead with five TD receptions.

Rivers is the only quarterback in the NFL who has thrown at least two touchdowns in every game this season. (Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas, Tom Brady and Dan Marino are the only quarterbacks in league history to have done this).

Keenan Allen needs 100-plus receiving yards to reach the 21st 100-yard game of his career. He needs two touchdown catches to reach 27 and tie WR Don Norton. Gates needs seven receptions to pass Hall of Fame WR Andre Reed (951). He needs 106 receiving yards to reach 11,835 for his career and pass Hall of Fame WR Don Maynard on the all-time list.

Chargers had a season-high nine offensive plays go for 20 yards or more against the Broncos. Chargers are tied with the Chiefs for the most 20-plus-yard rushes in the NFL Chargers also have the fourth-most passing plays of 20 yards or more (46).

Cards are one of the league’s stingiest teams against the pass, led by perennial All-Pro Patrick Peterson who continues to thrive against some of the NFL’s best wideouts. PP21 ranks second on the team with two interceptions only behind former Charger Tre Boston, who leads the team with three. The Cardinals also boast one of the league’s top pass rushers in Chandler Jones, who has 10.5 sacks on the year.

Key Matchuups - Rivers spreads the ball around - so it will be group coverage with a lot of zone - Therefore, Peterson, Benwikere, L Johnson vs. Allen and both Williams. C Jones vs. Okung. Golden vs. Tevi. Buccannon vs. Gates

Matchup: Chargers Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Melvin Gordon continues to pound the rock - 143 times for 741 yards (5.2 ypc) and seven touchdowns. He’s just as lethal as a receiver, ranking #2 on the team with 42 catches for 448 yards and 4 TD's. He needs 120 scrimmage yards to extend his streak of games with at least 120 yards from scrimmage to seven - a record for the longest such streak in franchise history. He is currently tied in this respect with Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

Gordon has totaled at least 120 yards from scrimmage in seven of nine games this season. In the two games in which he didn’t reach 120 total yards, he was just as effective: (at Buffalo: three total touchdowns in the first half; at Rams: 5.3 yards per carry and a TD).

Cardinal run defense is spotty, giving up too many yards after initial contact. Antoine Bethea leads the defense with 67 tackles, and Budda Baker ranks second with 54. Gordon vs. Bynes

Key Matchup: Martin and Richard vs. Bynes. Raider OL vs. Peters, Gunter

Cardinal Offense

03 Rosen, 07 Glennon

Running Back
23 D Johnson, 29 Edmonds, 22 Logan, 32 Coleman

Wide Receivers
WR - 11 Fitzgerald, 13 Kirk, 16 Sherfield
WR - 16 C Williams, 14 Nelson, 12 K Wright

Tight Ends
TE1 - 86 Seals-Jones, 84 Gresham, 82 J Phillips

Offensive Line
LT- 74 Humphries, 79 Cunningham
LG - 76 Iupati, 68 Vujnovich,
OC- 64 Cole, 62 Munyer
RG- 70 Aboushi, 78 Gossett
RT - 71 A Smith, 75 Golditch

Chargers Defense

Defensive Line
DE.....99 Bosa....98 Rochell
DT.....93 Philon...91 J Jones...xx McGill
NT.....92 Mebane...71 Square
DE....54 Ingram...46 Landrum

OLB.....57 Brown...58 T Johnson
ILB.......51 Emanuel...50 Pullard....48 Dzubner
OLB....42 Nwosu....
24 T Williams...36 Facyson

Defensive Backs
LCB....43 M Davis.
RCB...26 Heyward,....20 King...29 Richards
S ......37 Addae...31Phillips
S......33 D James...23 Jenkins

Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Chargers Pass Defense
First-round pick Josh Rosen took over as the team’s starting quarterback in Week 4 - he’s completed 125 of 228 attempts (54.8 percent) for 1,416 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 68.5 passer rating. Larry Fitzgerald continues to work his magic, leading the team with 42 receptions for 430 yards and four TD's. Rookie sensation Christian Kirk has emerged as an" electric playmaker," hauling in 36 receptions for a team-high 495 yards and three touchdowns.

Chargers' defense got a major boost with the return of Bosa - who will look for his first sack of the year. Ingram currently leads the team with 5.5 sacks, followed by Isaac Rochell with 4.5. Derwin James leads the team in tackles with 75 while Desmond King ranks first on the Bolts with 3 interceptions. Melvin Ingram needs 3.5 sacks to reach 44.0 for his career (and would pass LB Shawne Merriman for No. 6 in team history).

Key Matchups:
Cardinal OL vs. Bosa, and Ingram. Fitz vs. Heyward. Kirk vs. M Davis

Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Chargers Run Defense
David Johnson leads the Cardinals on the ground, lugging the pigskin168 times for 629 yards (3.7 ypc) and six touchdowns. He’s also had 32 catches for 309 yards and another two TDs. Safety Derwin James leads the Chargers in tackles (71). He’s also tied for first in passes defended (7), and tied for third in sacks (3.5) and quarterback hits (6).

Key Matchups:
D Johnson vs James

Special Teams

Chargers Special Teams

K       04 Badgley    
P       05 D Jones      
H       05 D Jones
LS     47 Windt
KR    20 King
PR    20 King

Cardinals Special Teams
P - ...02 Lee
K- ....04 Dawson
H - ...02 Lee
LS - .46 Brewer
KR - 22 Logan, 14 Nelson
PR - 13 Kirk, 22 Logan

Matchup: Chargers Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Badgley needs two more field goals to reach 10 for his career, which would be the most by a kicker in Charger history in his first five career games.

Kirk is beginning to emerge as a returning threat, but Cards have decided to re-activate their rookie scatback, Logan - what the roles of each return guy will turn out to be has yet to be determined. Dwayne Harris is the KR and PR specialist for the Raiders. Cards haven't broken very much long, but both Kirk and Logan seem "right on the verge")

Key Matchups:
We give the edge to Lee over D Jones and Dawson over Badgely. Don't know much about King, but Kirk looks ready to have a breakout outing as a reserve guy.

Coaching / Intangibles
Anthony Lynn is HC - don't know much about him, except to point out that 7 & 3 ain't bad. Whiz (whom we know and who's been around for a while) is the OC. Veteran coach,Gus Bradley is DC. George Stewart coordinates ST's.

Cardinals are in the first year of the Wilks era, with its first casually, offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy and the elevation of QB coach Byron Leftwich to OC. So far the transition looks to be a productive one, but it's still kind of early to tell. Cards are playing better than a 2-win football team yet (as Bill Parcells is fond of saying): "You are what your record says you are." We'll see.

How to Beat the Chargers
When you're 2 & 8, the answer to this question has to be: "Any way we can." Cards are not a bad team, and are capable of beating any NFL team when playing to their max potemtial. (David Johnson, Chandler Jones and Fitz are at the top of their positions). Problem is that their play is extremely erratic - they've invented every possible way to beat themselves. Sooner or later the Cards will put together a well-played outing - and when they out. (Could be the victim could turn out to be the Chargers; why not?

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