By now it seems pretty safe to say that the San Diego Chargers are going to have to win games via shootout in the 2013 NFL season. The defense hasn’t been absolutely terrible for the Bolts to date, but the offense has certainly carried the load as far as stellar play is concerned. That trend is likely to continue against a high-scoring bunch from the NFC East in Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys which is why the key to winning this game will be quarterback Philip Rivers’ ability to spread the ball around on offense.
That really isn’t much to ask for from a quarterback like Rivers who makes his living on spreading the ball around to a variety of pass catchers. Rivers doesn’t discriminate when it comes to picking out targets; if you’re open, he’ll find you. Against the Dallas defense that is going to be very important as the Cowboys ranked second in the league in run defense so far while their pass defense is the laggard ranking 22nd. San Diego must key in on exposing what has been a porous secondary for the Cowboys so far in order to put points on the board.
Keeping Rivers upright is going to be vital in this mission, and the offensive line has done an admirable job of that thus far in 2013. After surrendering a mind-numbing 49 sacks a year ago, the Bolts have given up just five so far through three games this year. That unit will be put to the test against a Dallas defense that ranks second in the league with 13.0 sacks already this season.
DeMarcus Ware and company are pinning their ears back and getting after opposing quarterbacks on the regular, so Rivers must have a quick trigger to avoid unnecessary sacks. Sometimes an incompletion is a quarterback’s best friend. Living to fight another down and not moving backwards is much better than losing yardage and bringing a potential turnover into play.
With Eddie Royal emerging as a go-to target and tight end Antonio Gates being the everlasting old-reliable, Rivers will have no shortage of options to throw to on Sunday. Finding one-on-one matchups and seeing mismatches pre-snap will be vital for Rivers as he looks to dissect the Cowboys on defense. It’s critical to avoid costly turnovers and limit the sacks as much as possible when going up against a fearsome pass rush like the one in Dallas.
If this game turns into a shootout as expected, look for Rivers to thrive and use his quick trigger to get the ball out of his hand in a hurry. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, and these Chargers need to live by that slogan if they want to get a win on Sunday.