With neither team with any surprising news on the injury report, I figured I’d give a prediction for Sundays bout. As I mentioned, Ryan Mathews is expected to be active for this game. Antonio Gates has practiced all week so he should be in as well. The Chargers should have all their weapons for the first time all season, and that is a scary thought.
San Diego is one of the more confusing teams in the league. They always seem to have a ton of talent, but can’t ever put it all together. They will win one game by 40, then lay an egg the next week. Much of this lies on the shoulders of Philip Rivers. Rivers had one of worst seasons last year, and subsequently so did the Chargers. Despite a weak AFC West, the Chargers were held out of the playoffs. They have started off 2-0 this year, so they will look to turn that around this year.
Rivers had plenty of targets to work with. Malcom Floyd and Robert Meachem are his top two receivers, and both are very talented. So far the familiarity with Floyd has led to him becoming Rivers’ number one target. These guys are good, but a step down to what we are used to seeing with Vincent Jackson now with a new home. The running back situation is what truly concerns me. Mathews is playing in his first game which is a large improvement for the Chargers. Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley is not a good 1-2 punch. Mathews has elite potential at RB and the Falcons have struggled to stop anyone on the ground. The only thing working against their favor is the fact that Mathews’ is going to need to get the rust off. He is coming back from a broken collarbone, so he may be a bit timid at the start. Still, this is a matchup to monitor.
The Chargers defense has been surprisingly stout to start the season. They slowed down phenom Darren McFadden in week one, and stuffed Chris Johnson the following week. Johnson has been abysmal thus far, so stopping him isn’t saying much, but Run DMC is one of the most talented backs in the league. Atlanta is by far the best offense that they faced so far, but not at the RB position. Michael Turner has struggled against some weaker competition, so I don’t expect him to suddenly breakout against the top running defense in the league statistically. Luckily for Atlanta, that isn’t their game any more. They will live and die by the pass, and I expect a lot of that this game. I don’t think the Chargers have the answer for Julio Jones and Roddy White, so Atlanta shouldn’t struggle to get on the board. This will be a true test to see if their early season success is just a mirage.
So what do I think is going to happen? Well, there are ton of factors that favor the home team in this one. Playing on the road on a short week across the country is never an easy task. Luckily, for Atlanta they aren’t facing a lot of injuries, but it is still not an ideal situation. I think this could be a very high scoring game, and very well could come down to the team that has the ball last is the winner. For this game I just have a feeling San Diego comes out on top 31-28.