Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 9/23/12

Both of these teams are a pleasant surprise through the first two weeks of 2012. The Falcons have looked liked the team everyone thought they could be in 2011 while you could easily say the same about the Chargers. Oh well. Better late than never I suppose. While both teams come into Week 3 with undefeated 2-0 marks, someone is going to leave San Diego with a blemish on their record. This is the Chargers last game before they face the Broncos in Week 6 so they better enjoy this home cooking while they still have it. The Falcons are coming off of an impressive win at home against the same Broncos while they look to go 3-0 against the AFC West throughout their first three games (kind of strange scheduling, no?). Regardless, this is an interesting matchup between two teams who no one expected to start off this hot. Which team will continue their unbeaten streak while the other tastes bitter defeat for the first time this season? Who knows! Maybe everyone will be happy and they will tie. (What are we? ESPN all of a sudden?)

What the Falcons Must Do to Win This Game

When the Falcons traded up to draft wide receiver Julio Jones in 2011 it was seen as a risk. Any time you put that much stock into a draft pick you are putting a ton on the line. After the embarassing loss to the Giants in the first round of the playoffs last season, many questioned the direction of the Falcons offense heading forward. So far, those questions seem foolish. The duo of Roddy White and Jones (sans-dreadlocks) has been unstoppable. Tight end and future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez is often forgotten about by opposing defenses because they have their hands tied with these two elite receivers. Because of this, Gonzalez finds himself with two touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season. Running back Michael Turner has taken a beating since he got to Atlanta and it has shown in 2012 by the lack of his production. Not to say he isn’t still a serviceable back, it’s just he will never be able to bare the same load as he was in the past. Regardless, as long as this high powered offense continues to churn, the Falcons will continue to win. Their defense looked strong in the first quarter against Peyton Manning (forcing three interceptions) but they came back down to earth as the game progressed and almost coughed up a victory. Regardless, this team is going to continue to win because of the offense and that will be their catalyst this Sunday in San Diego.

What the Chargers Must Do to Win This Game

Philip Rivers has always been viewed as a quarterback on the brink of becoming one of the best in the league. Yet during his tenure in San Diego he has watched the quarterback he replaced (Drew Brees) and the quarterback he was traded for (Eli Manning) win a combined three Super Bowls. If that doesn’t weigh heavily on one’s mind, then I don’t know what does. Rivers has a ton to prove in 2012 and while he is off to a hot start, this game against the Falcons is his biggest test yet. After squeaking out a win in their opener against the Raiders, Rivers led the Chargers to an impressive win over the Titans. If he can get to 3-0 and keep the division lead heading into a Week 4 matchup at Kansas City, Rivers could well be on his way to a division crown. I don’t expect Dante Rosario to have another three touchdown game, but I do expect Rivers to have a better game than Peyton Manning had last Monday night. I expect this game to be a high scoring affair, so ball security will be a must if Rivers wants to keep his team in this game.

Final Prediction

42-35 Falcons. I’m still not fully buying into the Chargers. Without stability in the run game and without a healthy Gates, it’s hard to hand them a win against a Falcons team who has just about dominated the AFC West thus far in 2012. Until the Falcons show me that they can’t score enough points to win  games, I’m going to continue to pick them. Simple as that. Jones sans-dreads for the win!

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