The San Diego Chargers may have their hands full in 2012. San Diego ranked 20th among NFL teams against the run in 2011. San Diego will face the Oakland Raiders on the road in week one and to close out the regular season in a week 17 home game. Darren McFadden only appeared in seven games last season, but was fourth in the NFL with 88 rushing yards per game. The Chargers have a week three home game against the Atlanta Falcons. Former Charger Michael Turner finished third in the NFL with 1,340 rushing yards and tied for sixth with 11 rushing touchdowns in 2011.
It will be interesting to see how Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs returns from his ACL tear. San Diego has a week four road battle in KC, and a week nine home game against the Chiefs. Charles only appeared in two games last season, but finished second in the NFL with 1,467 rushing yards while being 14th in attempts in 2010. The New Orleans Saints barely had a running back who eclipsed 600 yards thanks to injuries, but the combination of former Charger Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory helped New Orleans finish sixth as a team in rushing yards. The Chargers have a prime time Sunday night game in New Orleans for week five.
The age of 30 is usually the time when running backs slow down. The 30 year old Willis McGahee may have found the fountain of youth as he finished eighth in the NFL in 2011 with 1,199 rushing yards. McGahee only combined for 209 rushing attempts from 2009-2010, so this could explain his productivity last season as Ray Rice carried the workload on the Baltimore Ravens those seasons. San Diego has a week six home game and a week 11 road game against McGahee and the Denver Broncos. Their week 11 match-up with Denver will be followed by a week 12 home game against Baltimore. Rice finished second in the NFL with 1,364 yards and tied for third with 12 touchdowns in 2011.
San Diego has a week 15 home game against the Carolina Panthers. DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton all rushed for over 700 yards in 2011. Carolina led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 26 and was third as a team in rushing yards. San Diego was tied for sixth in terms of giving up the most plays of 20 or more rushing yards in 2011. San Diego added defensive tackle Kendall Reyes and strong safety Brandon Taylor, so hopefully they will help the Chargers improve against the run.