Week 10: San Diego Chargers At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- QuarterbackPhilip Rivers has had some painful moments this year in losses to the Saints and the Broncos, but he was on top of his game in the Week Nine win over the Chiefs in which he completed 18-of-20 passes and was able to put the game away in the second half. Rivers was decisive and accurate and his receivers did not let him down.Josh Freeman is one of the most improved players in the league and that’s helping the Bucs become one of the more explosive offensive teams in the league. Freeman has size, strength and the ability to throw the deep ball. He is an accurate and confident passer and that means opposing defenses must make stopping him their top priority.
- OffenseThe Chargers are going to try to get the ball to tight end Antonio Gates and wide receiver Malcolm Floyd against the Bucs. They will have a much better chance of making big plays through the air if they can get consistent production from the running game. While Ryan Mathews and Jackie Battle are not big names, both run the ball with toughness and authority.The Bucs are starting to hit on all cylinders when they have the ball. Rookie running back Doug Martin is coming off one of the best games by a running back this season as he dominated the Oakland Raider defense with 251 yards and an eye-catching 4 TDs. However, no Bucs player will probably be as motivated to have a great game as former Charger Vincent Jackson. He would like to show his former team exactly what they are missing.
- DefenseThe Chargers have the defensive talent to slow down the Bucs significantly, if not shut them down. The Chargers rank 9th in defense overall and 4th against the run. Much of that comes from their solid tackling ability. Strong safety Atari Bigby leads the Chargers with 558 tackles this year while Donald Butler is right behind with 55 stops.The Bucs are a hard hitting team that looks to force turnovers, but they give up big plays and big yards because the defense is often out of position. They gave up 414 passing yards to the Raiders and were never really able to put that game out of reach because the pass defense was a step behind for most of the game. Outside linebacker Lavonte David is an aggressive player who had 14 stops against Oakland.
- Special TeamsThe Chargers parted company with veteran placekicker Nate Kaeding and turned the responsibilities over to Nick Novak. Novak is solid and dependable and he has made 8-of-9 field goal attempts. Mike Scifres has a strong leg and is a fine directional punter.The Bucs may have a problem if this game comes down to special teams. Connor Barth missed both of his field goal attempts against the Raiders. Punter Michael Koenen has a net average of 37.3 yards on his punts and he lacks a strong leg.
There is an air of pessimism that seems to follow head coach Norv Turner and Rivers. While both men are intelligent and creative, it seems like both know that things cannot possibly end well for the Chargers. This is the kind of game that will be very difficult for them since the Bucs have been so explosive offensively.