Match Making

As the San Diego Chargers prepare to face the Cleveland Browns this weekend, they have to feel as if this is the game that will finally allow them to break into the win column. This is because football is a game of match-ups, and the Chargers match-up very well against this Cleveland Browns team.

As far as the Chargers much-maligned secondary, they should match-up very favorably against a team like the Browns that boasts a receiving core that, although undeniably deep, has no big time playmaker. The Chargers talented, yet inexperienced, cover corners lack the experience to deal with big time players like Rod Smith, Jerry Rice and Jimmy Smith as they have been forced to do thus far this season. However, when I see Quincy Morgan, Kevin Johnson and Dennis Northcutt lined up across from Quentin Jammer, Sammy Davis and Drayton Florence, I like the Chargers odds.

Also, there is nothing that can help a bad pass rush like the one the Chargers have as much as lining up across from a terrible offensive line such as the one the Browns currently possess. If Marcellus Wiley is looking to climb the league sack rankings, he will love facing Ryan Tucker, a true guard playing out of position. And Jamal Williams and Jason Fisk should be much more effective stuffing the run when lined up against Chad Beasley, playing for the injured and undrafted Shaun O'Hara, former seventh round selection Paul Zukauskas, and Melvin Fowler, subbing for rookie center Jeff Faine.

The Chargers offense will also receive several favorable match-ups. The closest thing the Browns have to a shutdown cover corner is Daylon McCutcheon, which should mean a big day for David Boston, especially as Boston is five inches taller and forty five pounds heavier than the man who will be defending him.

Expect LaDainian Tomlinson to have a big day as well, if for no other reason than because he is LaDainian Tomlinson. After the Chargers spent the bye week examining their selves, they surely came to the realization that this team is only as effective as LaDainian's performance. He is the heart of this team. That is one of the primary reasons the organization felt it could part with Junior Seau's leadership this offseason, because it was clear that even midway through last season, the Chargers have become LaDainian's team.

This team is too talented to be the only winless team in the NFL. They may be the only team capable of making the claim that they have the league's best running back, the league's best fullback, and the league's best wide receiver all on the same offense. They are led by one of the winningest coaches in football history, who, despite what the hoards of impatient fans believe, is the right man for this job. And they have a young quarterback who can manage the game effectively, and who can run the hurry-up offense with an astonishing degree of accuracy.

The Chargers are due for a win. They deserve better than what they have gotten this year. They have worked too hard and have too much talent to be where they are. But all of that can not erase that winless taste from there mouths. The only thing that can do that is their impending victory over the Cleveland Browns.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at

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