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Week 9: Minnesota Madness

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Oct 31, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    <img src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/050826chargers/chargers_vikes4.sized.jpg" alt="SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune" height="218" width="302" />

    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    The San Diego Chargers, who are 4-3 on the season travel to the Great Lakes region to challenge the Minnesota Vikings who are 2-5 on the season."  The Vikings are coming off of two consecutive losses while the chargers have won their last three games in a convincing fashion.

    The Chargers will renew acquaintances with an old friend, Ben Leber who was a Chargers line backer from 2002 through 2005."  He is a speedy linebacker who is playing well for the Vikings this season. The Vikings will also see a familiar face, as Center, Cory Withrow who will be starting for the Chargers this Sunday started his career in Minnesota, playing for the Vikings from 1999 through 2005.

    The Chargers will be traveling for the second straight week, even though they played a home game last week."  The wild fires in southern California caused the Chargers to practice in Arizona while getting ready for the Houston Texans."  This week however, they will be able to handle the game in the normal fashion, and they are returning to last seasons form that most expected from them all season long.

    The Vikings are unsure who will be lining up behind center for them against the Chargers."  Vikings head Coach; Brad Childers has said that if healthy, Tarvaris Jackson will start."  He has not played well in his four starts and now suffers from a broken finger on his throwing hand."  If Jackson cannot go they may not be able rely on backup Quarterback, Kelley Holcomb, who also has not played well this season and has suffered a whiplash like injury during the Philadelphia game."  He is reported to be extremely sore, but has suffered no structural damage to his head or neck as a result of the injury."  The Vikings may be forced to start their third sting Quarterback, Brooks Bollinger."  Bollinger played against Philadelphia, going 7 of 10 for 94 yards."  He did not throw an interception or a touch down.

    Bollinger was unable to lead the Vikings to the end zone during his play against the Eagles."  The Vikings scored only three field goals after the first quarter."  Their typically potent running game never got on track to support the passing game.

    The Vikings will have to find a way to make the pass works as the Chargers are one of the better teams in the league at shutting down the run."  The Vikings will also have to find a way to prevent the Chargers from starting hot as they have done in their last three games."  The Chargers are a difficult team to play from behind on, and the Vikings have had difficulties in their passing game this season.

    Both teams have been good in getting turnovers; both teams have a positive turnover ratio, Chargers at +8, and the Vikings at +6."  The Chargers however have been out performing the Vikings in the area of net points."  The Chargers currently have +48 net points on the season, while the Vikings have a -6 net point value."  The Chargers are averaging 24.6 points per game, 8th in the league, while the Vikings are averaging 18.7 points per game, which is 19th in the league."  Historically the Chargers lead the sries record 3-2.

    On paper the two teams stack up well against the other."  Both have good rushing offenses and defenses."  But the Vikings give up too many passing yards per game and currently are last in the league in defending the pass.

    The Vikings have several players on the injury list, as stated before, their first and second string Quarterbacks are on the mend, Safety, Dwight Smith will likely miss the game, Defensive End, Erasmus James may also miss the game.

    The Chargers also have several players who are banged up, Center nick Hardwick will be out, Receiver, Craig Davis, and Nose Tackle Jamal Williams both missed the Texans game and will be evaluated during the week.

    The last time the Vikings and Chargers faced each other in the regular season, the Chargers Quarterback was Doug Flutie."  Both teams have gone through substantial overhauls since that time, this game could simply come down to which team can find the broken coverage last.

    <em><strong>Chargers on Offense, Vikings Defense:</strong></em>

    <em></em>The Chargers are going to have to approach this game with a balanced attack."  They enter this game having slipped in the statistical rankings from last week."  They are currently ranked 19th overall in offense, 12th in rushing offense and 22nd in passing offense."  They are going against a Vikings team that is listed as 27th over all defensively, but ranks 3rd against the run, and dead last against the pass.

    Chargers Wide Receiver, Chris Chambers should pay dividends this week, as the Vikings will have to focus on the passing threats of Tight End Antonio Gates and Chamber, thus preventing them from stacking the line of scrimmage against the run.

    The Chargers also bring a running challenge like the Vikings have not faced this season."  Chargers Running Back, LaDainian Tomlinson is one of the leagues best."  Also, in just 7 seasons Tomlinson has tied the greate Jim Brown for rushing touchdowns at 106."  With just four more, Tomlinson will move into a tie for third place in rushing touchdowns with the great Walter Payton.

    The Chargers offensive line have been very good through the last three games in opening holes for Tomlinson, who does not need a very big hole to gain positive yardage."  This is especially true on the left side of the offensive line which features Left Guard, Kris Dielman, and second year pro Left Tackle, Marcus McNeil."  Both are big nasty offensive line men who like to attack their opposition, both transitions well into the backfield to get the block at the second level."  However, the defensive line of the Vikings is one of the better defensive lines the Chargers will face this season."  This game will be won in the trenches.

    The Vikings possess an excellent Defensive Line, the unit has a combined total of 9 sacks thus far on the season, and they are big, fast and athletic."  The Chargers offensive line will have to get first contact and maintain balance against the defenders in this game.

    The Vikings also feature three very active line backers which is anchored by ex-Charger Ben Leber."  Leber is a fast line backer who can play sideline to sideline and isn't afraid to charge the gap and lay a hit on the running back."  He has accumulated 27 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery on the season."  He is a smart linebacker who has a nose for the ball.


    The Vikings defense, much like the Chargers is an opportunistic one."  Their defensive secondary is good at creating turnovers, and each of their four starters has at least one interception on the season.

    <strong>Key Match Ups:</strong>

    <em><strong>K. Williams vs. Dielman:</strong></em>

    Kevin Williams is a giant of a man, at 6'5" and 311 pounds."  He has the strength and athleticism to bully offensive blockers."  He has a very quick burst off of the ball and uses his hands to keep the offensive blockers from getting in close to his body."  He is good against multiple blockers, and plays with good leverage."  He has excellent lateral movement and a very good understanding of blocking angles."  He is very good against the run, and has an ability to block the gaps and maintain his blocks.

    Kris Dielman is affectionately known as ‘Dirty Dielman' for his penchant to play nasty and to not stop playing until the whistle blows."  He is 6'4" and 310 pounds; he is a converted defensive lineman and has that nasty streak that you see in many defensive linemen, of attacking and never letting up."  Dielman is big and physical, he has the balance and strength to bully attacking line men, and the ability to drop a block and take on a blitzing linebacker."  He has good foot speed and is rarely out of position."  At time he does take bad angles when dropping back to make the block at the second level.

    This will be a key match up in this competition, a clash of the Titans in the trench warfare of the game.

    <em><strong>R. Edwards vs. McNeil:</strong></em>

    Ray Edwards is young player who is performing beyond his current level of experience."  He is athletic, fast and has some scrappiness in him."  He is a good edge rusher with the speed to beat some blocks."  He has long arms and uses them well to bat the ball or keep the blockers at a distance."  He is improving his body control and refining his technique which is still a little raw, this being his second season as a pro should not be a big surprise though."  He needs to improve his angles and discipline.

    Marcus McNeil is a jumbo offensive lineman who has played well beyond his two years of experience."  He has a nasty streak and will continue blocking until the whistle blows."  He is an excellent pass blocker with long arms and solid footing techniques."  He has shown the ability to handle edge rushers well and maintain balance while transitioning into the backfield."  He has good strength at the point of attack and takes good angles on his blocks.

    <em><strong>Winfield vs. Gates:</strong></em>

    Antoine Winfield is a fast corner and a savvy veteran."  He is 5'9" and 180 pounds, and gives up a lot in size and weight to many of the Chargers receivers and tight ends."  He does however poses the tenacity of a pit-bull and is one of the better tackling corners in the league."  He is intelligent and has a nose for the ball."  He is very capable of disguising his coverage and creating opportunities for turnovers."  He is explosive when hitting the ball carrier or receiver, and has great timing."  He is very good at covering the edges and does not fear attacking a running back coming around the edge."  He is rarely out of position and has the quickness to make up for separation with the receivers.

    Antonio Gates has developed from a non-drafted free agent to the leagues premier tight end in just 5 short seasons."  He is the best pass catching tight end in the league right now."  He has deceptive speed which helps him get open in the middle of the field or on the side lines."  He is a drive extender, being extremely reliable on third downs. He is very difficult to handle one on one, partially due to his physical size at 6'4" 260 pounds."  He can play across the middle or help in the deep game."  He is very good at coming back and helping the quarterback when the pressure demands it."  He is getting better at blocking but the Chargers will usually go to Brandon Manumaleuna to block at the point of attack.

    <em><strong>Chargers on Defense, Vikings Offense:</strong></em>

    The Vikings are going to test the Chargers run defense and look to show different packages to create mismatches in the box."  They enter this game currently ranked 23rd overall in offense, 2nd in rushing offense and 30th in passing offense."  They are going against The Chargers who are currently ranked 18th over all defensively, 7th against the run, and 27th against the pass."  Though they rank low against the pass, of late the secondary has been creating turnovers, and the Chargers secondary already has more interceptions than they did through all of last season.

    The Vikings feature the current league leading rusher in Adrian Peterson."  He has gained 740 yards on the season and 5 touchdowns."  He runs behind a big offensive line which includes Left Tackle, Bryant McKinnie who is 6'8" and 335 pounds, Left Guard, Steve Hutchinson at 6'5" and 313 pounds, Center, Matt Birk at 6'4" and 308 pounds, Right Guard, Artis hicks at 6'4" and 335 pounds, and Right Tackle, Ryan Cook who is 6'6" and 328 pounds."  They are a solid unit and very good at opening holes for the runner.

    As stated above the Vikings are unsure at who their signal caller will be, this will cause them to rely more on the running game that usual."  But the Chargers are very fast on defense and good at stopping the run."  Their line backing corps are side line to side line players with speed, size and tenacity."  Chargers Outside Line Backer, Shawne Merriman, is very good at running a play down from the back side, and can often shed the blocks and hit the ball carrier in the backfield.

    The Chargers defensive linemen have of late been good at pushing their blockers into the running lanes, clogging the gaps."  Their primary task in the defensive scheme seems to be to clog the line of scrimmage, and get their hands up to bat the passes."  The Chargers front 7 this season has been very good at batting the passes, creating opportunities for turnovers.

    The Chargers have not been as aggressive in attacking the passer, and this leads to the opposing quarterbacks having time to let the play develop."  In the last two games however, the secondary has covered well, leading to coverage sacks for the Chargers.

    <strong>Key Match Ups:</strong>

    <em><strong>Line Backers vs. Peterson:</strong></em>

    The Chargers will use their speedy line backers to contain Peterson, letting their three powerful defensive linemen clog the line of scrimmage, forcing the runner to bounce out, which gives the line backers a point of attack at or near the line of scrimmage."  The Chargers will most likely have two defenders on Peterson through out the game, their linebackers have the speed and ability to change direction to cover a darting runner.

    Adrian Peterson is a young running back who has had some turmoil's around him early on."  This in part lead to him not being the starting runner this season."  He is 6'1" and 217 pounds and has a good eye for where the gaps will be."  He does at time show impatience and tries to force himself into gaps that are clogged."  He does have good power and cutting ability, but has been slowed by injuries in the past."  The Vikings will look to run him to the left side of the line behind Mckinnie and Hutchinson."  Against the Eagles Peterson's production was not up to his typical standard, as he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry."  The Eagles appeared to put multiple defenders on him and dare the Vikings to beat them through the air."  The Chargers will most likely do the same early in the game.

    <em><strong>Williams vs. Birk:</strong></em>

    This game is entirely about the battle at the line of scrimmage."  The team that wins this battle will win the game.

    Jamal Williams is a huge Defensive Nose Tackle at 6' 3" and 348 pound."  He is fast and can handle double teams well."  He is very strong and it is rare that you see him being pushed backwards."  He can shed a block and move sideline to sideline and make tackles, much as the Bengal's running back discovered last season when Williams came in to make the tackle and knocked him off of the field of play."  He plays well using leverage and strength to move the blocker into the gap, and has the strength to one arm tackle a ball carrier while fighting the block.

    Matt Birk is one of the better centers in the league and has earned quite a few frequent flyer miles from his trips to the Probowl in Hawaii."  He has the size at 6'4" and 308 pounds to match up well against Williams and provide an entertaining battle in the trenches."  He is good at the pulling block and takes excellent angles at the point of attack."  He is very smart and can read defensive schemes well."  He has excellent technique and is known for good hand placement and leverage."  He has suffered from back injuries the past few seasons though this season looks to be in all pro form."  He will be an asset to the Vikings signal caller as he often helps the quarterback make the right call based on what the defense is showing.

    <em><strong>Castillo vs. Hutchinson:</strong></em>

    Luis Castillo is young and big, at 6'3" and 290 pounds he is deceptively fast."  He is very strong against the run and shows toughness in the trenches, continuing to fight until the whistle blows."  He comes off the ball fast and low and gets good leverage against the offensive blocker."  He gets into his opponent quickly and has the hand and arm strength to control most offensive linemen."  He keeps himself square to the line of scrimmage, and maintains a good balance to shed the blocker and make a tackle."  He is fast and his motor doesn't stop, he can run down a play and make the stop from behind."  He is improving his game against double teams and can change directions quickly."  He is improving in pass defense, though not the best pass rusher he is getting his hands up more, which gives quarterbacks pause in throwing their passes.

    Steve Hutchinson is a big body to move and has the size and power to move most defenders off of the block."  He is 6'5" and 313 pounds; he is tenacious and has very good tactics when locked up with the defender."  He has a good foot placement and an excellent first punch, he likes to lock on the defender and drive them backwards and plays until the whistle blows."  He is very good at dropping back and picking up blitzing line backers as well."  He struggles against quicker defenders and sometimes gets his feet crossed up.

    <em><strong>The monkey and the wrench:</strong></em>

    The return games will be a big factor in this game."  The team that can shorten the field for their offense will have a huge advantage."  Both teams have good returners, the Vikings Punt Returner, Bobby Wade is a speedy runner who is averaging 7.6 yards per return."  The Chargers returner is Darren Sproles, who is averaging 8.7 yards per punt return."  The Vikings have an excellent kick returner, Troy Williamson who is averaging 24.8 yards on kick returns.

    The special teams battles should be entertaining, and very important to the outcome of the game.

    <em><strong>Prognostication:</strong></em>

    This game will be decided on the ground and in the trenches."  Both teams are good, but the Chargers bring too much to the plate for the Vikings to keep up with defensively.

    Chargers 28, Vikings 14.
     

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