Quentin Jammer vs. Vincent Jackson
The Chargers miss Jackson a lot more than he misses the Chargers. Often under-appreciated in San Diego, Jackson finally has his superstar contract and is playing to back it up. He is one of just nine players to have already topped 700 receiving yards and is also in the top-10 in receiving touchdowns (six). His gaudy yards-per-catch numbers (22.9) remind Chargers fans of his big-play ability.
Jammer is the kind of physical defender who can prevent Jackson from getting a clean release and streaking downfield. It also helps Jammer is familiar with Jackson and unlikely to bite on the double moves that Jackson uses so well to get wide open. There is no doubt a highly motivated Jackson will makes some big plays Sunday, but if Jammer can contest Josh Freeman's throws, make sound tackles and keep the damage to a minimum, it will keep the Chargers in the game.
Louis Vasquez vs. Gerald McCoy
Philip Rivers struggles under duress, especially when facing pressure up the middle. That's why it's key Vasquez contains McCoy, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Vasquez is enjoying a solid fourth season, starting every game and earning his way onto ESPN's All-AFC West Midseason All Pro Team. He has allowed just one sack through eight games and has yet to be penalized.
Vasquez faces one of his toughest challenges in the sudden McCoy, a playmaker with quick hands and an even quicker first step. McCoy has made several big plays this season, including three sacks, a forced fumble and two passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. It is up to Vasquez to prevent McCoy from creating more havoc up the middle and forcing Rivers out of the pocket.
Lavonte David vs. Ronnie Brown
The Chargers throw to their running backs more than any other team in the league. Exactly 73 of Rivers' 175 completions have gone to running backs, a startling 41.7 percent. No running back catches more balls than Brown, who is second on the team with 32 receptions. Brown has caught more than 94 percent of the passes thrown his way, showing why Rivers goes to him so often. That trend will continue on Sunday, as Rivers will use short passes in place of runs against the league's best run defense.
David will be the primary defender in charge of tracking Brown out of the backfield. The rookie second-round pick has started every game and leads his team with 67 total tackles. SDBoltReport.com scouted David at the 2012 Senior Bowl and came away impressed by his speed and agility in coverage. Several Chargers coaches felt the same way, including assistant special teams coach Carlos Polk, who like David, hails from Nebraska. The Chargers know what David can do to erase a running back and must game plan accordingly.
Will San Diego's pass rush deliver on Sunday? Talk about it in the message boards.
Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.
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