Matchups to Watch: Bolts-Titans

The Chargers are back on the road to take on Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans. The Bolts have won nine straight in this series and aim to make it a perfect 10 while boosting their record to 2-1. We look at three key matchups in this intra-conference tilt.

Derek Cox vs. Kenny Britt

The Titans are playing at home, but it will not feel that way for Britt. He turned off a lot of fans this week by tweeting that this will likely be his final season in Tennessee. He can win the fans back with a big game against the Chargers, but that would be a departure from his production in the first two weeks. He has caught less than half the passes thrown his way (five of 11) and has just 43 yards on the season.

Cox is familiar with Britt from their days in the AFC South. He's off to an unspectacular start to his Bolts career -- no interceptions and one pass break-up -- but San Diego needs him to break out in Week 3. Tennessee has yet to turn the ball over this season and Cox would love to be the one to bust that streak.

Jeromey Clary vs. Sammie Lee Hill

The Titans signed Hill this offseason to fix their run defense. The results are promising so far, as Tennessee has allowed 25 fewer rushing yards per game than it did a season ago. Hill (6-foot-4, 328 lbs.) is a massive plug in the middle of the defense. He will line up on top of Clary, a converted tackle whose greatest strength has always been his tenacity as a run blocker.

This week's game will not be like the shootout against the Eagles. The Titans run a ball-control offense and want to establish a running game and make opportunistic plays on defense. To counter that, the Chargers need to control time of possession and keep Tennessee's defense on the field as long as possible. If Clary can generate movement in the run game, it could help Ryan Mathews break the 100-yard barrier for the first time since Dec. 11, 2011.

Dwight Freeney vs. Michael Roos

San Diego's pass defense is ranked last in the league, allowing 370 yards per game. That ranking should improve after this game, as the Titans have the NFL's last-ranked aerial attack (123 yards per game). The man in charge of keeping Tennessee tepid is Dwight Freeney, who has been excellent in the first two games but is still seeking his first sack in lightning bolts.

Freeney will have to get by Roos, an underrated left tackle who is one of the game's best. He has allowed just six sacks since the start of the 2011 season and has the lateral quickness to mirror Freeney and fight him to a standstill. It'll be up to Freeney and his patented spin move to find a way to Jake Locker. If he can, he may find the sack-and-strip he's been searching for and force the first Titans turnover of 2013.



Which matchups are you most excited to see? Discuss inside 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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