The San Diego Chargers should give teams a heavy dose of Ryan Mathews in 2012

By Kenny Gardner

The San Diego Chargers have 10 games on their 2012 schedule against teams that ranked in the bottom two thirds against the run in 2011. They will open the season with a road game against their arch rival the Oakland Raiders as well as close the season against them in San Diego.  Oakland ranked 27th against the run in 2011 surrendering 136 yards per game and allowed the highest yards per attempt average in the NFL.  San Diego’s home opener will be in week two against the Tennessee Titans.  Tennessee was 24th against the run as they allowed 128 yards per game.

San Diego will face another divisional foe on the road when they play the Kansas City Chiefs in week four with the rematch five weeks after that in San Diego.  The Chiefs ranked 26th in this category last season, giving up 132 yards per game.  Kansas City was 14th against the run in 2010 and played 15 games in 2011 without Pro Bowl strong safety Eric Berry who tore his ACL, but there is no guarantee that he will be back to form.  San Diego will play the Denver Broncos at home in week six and on the road in week 11.  Denver gave up 126 yards per game which was 22nd out of 32 teams.  Denver and Kansas City ranked 11th and 14th in fewest yards per attempt, so it could be more difficult to attack them, but the rest of these teams were no higher than 19th in terms of fewest yards per attempt.

The Cleveland Browns were 30th in run defense as they allowed 147 yards per game in 2011.  The Lightning Bolts will travel to Cleveland and face them in week eight.  San Diego will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 10 on the road.  Tampa had the NFL’s worst run defense last season as they allowed a horrendous 156 yards per game.  San Diego’s week 15 home game will be against the NFL’s 25th ranked run defense in 2011 as the Carolina Panthers allowed 131 yards per game.

San Diego running back Ryan Mathews finished 2011 with 222 attempts for 1,091 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.  Mathews was 10th in the NFL in rushing yards, 16th in attempts and had the highest yards per attempt average among running backs in the top 10 for rushing yards.  All seven of these teams added defensive tackles, linebackers and or strong safeties through free agency or the draft to help improve against the run, but San Diego should still test them by utilizing Mathews.





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