One of the more intriguing match ups this week pins a battle of (4-4) teams as the San Diego Chargers travel across the county to southern Florida and take of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Both teams have had their share of ups and downs this season, finding ways to lose close games. It also marks the first time that former Charger superstar wideout Vincent Jackson plays his former club. This match up features a few major fantasy players, so lets break the game down further.
I hate teams travelling across country to play in the early games. It’s proven that it’s a recipe for disaster for the defense as they tend to slow down in the second half. Tampa Bay’s offense has come to life in recent weeks, and had a second monster game in a row from rookie running back Doug Martin who lit up the Raiders for 251 and 4Tds.
San Diego bounced back with a Thursday night victory against the lowly Chiefs in a battle for coach Norv Turner’s job. Phillip Rivers looked as good as he had all year, completing 18/20 on his passes last week. Combo the efficiency with a healthy Ryan Matthews, and that’s where the majority of the offense is going to come from.
Matthews and the Chargers have been averaging 105 yards on the ground this season, which is a nice start against a Tampa defense which is one of the top defenses against the run (77 yards per game). Look for Tampa to shut down the running game early and force Rivers to pass his way to victory this week.
San Diego features Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd in their passing attack which averages about 215 yards a game, a major drop off from when Rivers was consistently pushing 300/game in yesteryears. It appears that Rivers has lost some velocity on his throws, which means his yards are down, and INT’s are up. If he keeps a short passing game hitting Gates, and finding Floyd stretching the field, they will be fine.
The problem for San Diego is that they just find a way to lose. They only allowed 9 pts to a bad Cleveland team and lost! Their defence has been pretty solid, only allowed 19 points a game. They need to play hard for four quarters on both sides of the ball to be successful.
Tampa has been rolling in recent weeks as they are up near the top of the league in points scored per game, and total yards gained. They need to do a better job in their secondary, which is giving up 321 yards through the air! If the poor tackling shows up, it will be a cake walk for Rivers are the Chargers.
Tampa can run the ball well. Rookie sensation Doug Martin has been a fantasy beast in the last couple weeks. Although he has the hot hand right now, don’t expect anything close to the same production he showed against the Vikings and Raiders. He will have a nice day, maybe find the end zone, but don’t expect more than 100-120yards total and a touchdown. Still a very nice fantasy day.
The big match up is going to be Vincent Jackson versus the Chargers secondary. Jackson sometimes takes a game off from the stat sheet, but he should be motivated to play this one. I’m thinking a large day is in order for Jackson with over 100 and 2 TDs. A bit of a bold prediction, but he is a monster in the red zone.
I hate teams travelling coast to coast for an early game – Look for Tampa to put the pressure on them early and to win fairly easily.
Studs: Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates
Sleeper: Josh Freeman
Be cautious: Ryan Matthews