Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 11/5/11

The unbeaten world champion Packers travel south to play the perennial AFC threat Chargers.

At first glace you would say that this is the marquee matchup of the week. But this game is going fail to live up to expectations as San Diego will continue to be shown just how big of frauds they are this season.

Expectations have been high for the Chargers for the last decade. Scribes will always fall in love with them in the preseason, but they will fall flat when it comes time to show up. This year they will be lucky to even make the playoffs the way that they are playing. Their division is usually a cake walk, but the Raiders and Chiefs are suddenly teams to be feared, so what started out as a 4-1 season could go into the tank in a hurry.

One of the biggest challenges San Diego seems to have every year is staying healthy, and this time around is no different. Ryan Mathews is "questionable" for the game with a groin injury, but after seeing the practice field sparingly this week, it appears unlikely that he will suit up. Mike Tolbert is back to full health, but he is not exactly an every down back.

Then there is Shaun Phillips, their stud outside linebacker, who is also doubtful to play with a nagging foot injury. Malcolm Floyd, all 6-foot-5 of him, is dealing with a hip issue that could force him to miss another game. All-Pro left guard Kris Dielman is still out of the lineup as he makes his way back from a concussion. Then there is Phillip Rivers who always seems to be running on one leg out there, so to say the Chargers are a big banged up would be an understatement.

The Chargers looks respectable on paper, until you look a little deeper that it. Their 4-1 start to the season included wins over the Donovan McNabb-led Vikings, a three point win over the Chiefs back when they thought Dexter McCluster could be an every down back, then they beat the Fins and the Broncos. So those four wins are hardly enough to hang your hat on.

Since coming off the bye, they have lost back-to-back games to the Jets and the resurgent Chiefs. Granted, both were on the road, but they looked largely unimpressive in both games, highlighted by the butter fingers of Rivers in primetime that lost the Chargers the game.

So how are they just 5.5 dogs to the Packers? Well that is a question to which I have no answer.

The Packers look as dangerous as any team has in the last decade. Aaron Rodgers is playing in a class of his own, as he spreads the ball around to as many as a dozen targets over the course of the game. While they will be without tackle Chad Clifton and defensive end Mike Neal, their depth and ability to plug players into their lineup in something that every team should envy.

It is nearly impossible to key on a single player for the Pack, as their ability to adapt on the fly is second to none throughout the league. James Starks or Ryan Grant. Greg Jennings or Jordy Nelson. Then they have Jermichael Finley, who has been frustrating fantasy owners this year with his lack of touches, but when you have so many weapons, it is hard to get them all touches needed to be elite in fake football.

Throw a little bit of all-purpose Randall Cobb in there, and drawing up a way to defend this team suddenly becomes impossible.

Their defense in no slouch either. They do rank near the bottom of the league in terms of yards allowed,but they have the individual talent necessary to shut down whatever Chargers decide that they are healthy enough to play. Desmond Bishop is playing at the level that made Nick Barnett expendable. Clay Matthews is still a terror off the edge and BJ Raji demands constant double teams on the middle of the line. Losing Nick Collins hurt their secondary badly, but once Tramon Williams returns to his form from that year, the ship will be back in order.

San Diego has a 4-3 record on the season, but they are just 2-5 against the spread, as their propensity for close games hurt them early in the season when they were heavily favored. Now they are the dogs, and they are going to play just as you would suspect considering the circumstances.

Qualcomm was surely hoping to host a good afternoon game against the world champs, but this one is stacked in favor of the Pack. Give them the points and understand that this is an easy cover for their surgical attack.

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This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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