Following a bye week that saw both the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings post wins on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers now look ahead to Week 9’s clash against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.
Like most people, I’ve struggled to fully grasp how great the Chargers really are this year. Rumors continue to swirl surrounding Philip Rivers’ health, but following a 23-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football, San Diego now find themselves in second spot out West.
On Monday night, there were times when the Chargers looked like the potent football team some experts would have us believe they are. More often than not though, turnovers and mistakes occurred – a troubling sign for coach Norv Turner with the Super Bowl champs up next.
Rivers Ball Security: From a Packers perspective, the good news is that Rivers ball control is a little off – meaning that Dom Capers pass rush (which has been criticized as of late) may have a much easier time applying pressure on the blitz. Rivers threw two interceptions on Monday night and had a crucial fumble in the fourth quarter which ended any chance of pinching a victory. Really, the fumble was all on Rivers’ sloppy hands, but rushing him to make throws was an easy task for the Chiefs defense.
Wide Receiver Physicality: By no means did Chargers wide receiver Malcolm Floyd have a rough game, but the Chiefs successfully maintained physicality down the sidelines which showed in the first half. The problem was, when the Chiefs defense slowed down a little, Rivers looked great from the second quarter up until the fumble. If the Packers can string together four quarters of solid pressure, the Chargers offense won’t have it easy.
One on One Coverage: Rivers’ two interceptions weren’t just unlucky, they came as a result of the Chiefs press man coverage deep down the field.
In the first half Rivers was obviously forcing throws to his receivers, but pressure from the Chiefs linebackers on the line of scrimmage also contributed. It’s hard to say whether or not Charlie Peprah will have a much improved game next week, but one on one coverage almost always plays into Charles Woodson’s hands. Sam Shields is also likely to return from a concussion, giving the Packers an added boost.
Penalties: The Chargers made it hard for themselves with eight penalties in the first half. That problem almost vanished in the second half, but the Packers need to pressure Rivers from the edge to cause him to jump. Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali saw great success from the right hand side of the defense recording two sacks, and the so-called resurgence of Clay Matthews could result in the same.