Opponent Preview: San Diego Chargers
Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
When: 1 p.m., Sunday, October 1
TV: WJZ-TV (Channel 13) Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
Radio: WIYY-FM (97.9) Gerry Sandusky, Stan White, Rob Burnett
Last year: 9-7, third in AFC West
This year: 2-0, first in AFC West
ABOUT THE CHARGERS:
• Last year, the Chargers lost five games by four points or less. Through two games this season, they have outscored the opposition 67-7.
• After two games, the Chargers rank fourth in total offense (second rushing, 22nd passing) and second in overall defense (fifth vs. rush, first vs. pass).
• The Chargers struggled with a minus-eight turnover ratio last year. They are now at plus-3 through two games.
• Head coach Marty Schottenheimer, now with his fourth team (Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington), has a regular-season record of 188-124-1. Between 1985 and 1997, his teams finished first or second in their divisions every year.
• Starting all 16 games last year were RG Mike Goff, RT Shane Olivea, QB Drew Brees (64 percent completions, 24 TDs, 15 INTs, 27 sacks, 89.2 rating), WR Keenan McCardell and RB LaDainian Tomlinson (1,462 yards, 4.3 per carry, 18 TDs). McCardell came into the season with 825 catches, 10th on the all-time list and second among active players to Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison (927).
• Last year's defensive iron men were NT Jamal Williams, LB Donnie Edwards and CB Quentin Jammer.
• Former N.C. State signal-caller Philip Rivers took over for the departed Brees. Rivers had only thrown 30 NFL passes before this season. After two weeks, he is completing passes at a 71 percent clip with two TDs and no INTs. That translates to a 107.4 rating, third-best in the NFL. Rivers' fourth-quarter rating is a perfect 158.3.
• In a loss to the Ravens in 2003, Tomlinson gained 105 yards on 23 carries. With 1,200 yards this season, Tomlinson would join Eric Dickerson as the only backs in NFL history to begin a career with six straight 1,200-yard seasons. Tomlinson also has four 200-yard games, two shy of the NFL record of six held by O.J. Simpson.
• TE Antonio Gates is recognized as one of the game's best tight ends. He was suspended for last year's Week One loss to Dallas, one that kept them out of the playoffs, but he did catch 89 balls for ten touchdowns in '05.
• Return specialist Darren Sproles ran back kicks at a 24-yard clip last year, but is out for the season due to a preseason knee injury.
• Third-year kicker Nick Kaeding missed a game-winning field goal in overtime during a playoff game against the New York Jets in 2004. In 2005, he converted on 21 of 24 field goals, but missed three PATs. Punter Mike Scifres had only 26 of his 71 kicks returned last year, least in the league among punters with 70 attempts. His 43.4 gross average is tied for fifth among active punters.
Two great running backs and stout defenses. Give the home-field edge and QB experience to Baltimore.
Issue 1.23: September 28, 2006