Although the Chargers and Seahawks share a similar reliance on their MVP-caliber running backs, they could not be more different when they drop back to pass.
The Chargers are very reliant on their tight ends. Of Philip Rivers' 18 touchdown passes this season, 11 have gone to the tight end position. A big reason for that is Antonio Gates, who leads the team in receptions (65), receiving yards (805) and touchdown catches (8).
"I get my share of opportunities to catch the ball. This whole team and organization know that," Gates said.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, prefer to rely on their remarkably deep group of receivers. Seattle has four receivers who have registered at least 987 receiving yards in a single season: Darrell Jackson, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram.
This group should provide a litmus test as to how improved the Chargers secondary truly is. San Diego will get a break, however, as Jackson is expected to miss the game with a toe injury.
Just for Kicks
The last time these teams met was in 2002, when the Seahawks beat the Chargers 31-28 in overtime via a 24-yard Rian Lindell field goal. If the Chargers lose in a similar fashion on Sunday, it will mean that Josh Brown has made history.
Brown has already made four game-winning field goals this season and one more would set a new single-season record. Bottom line: The Chargers had better keep at least a four-point cushion late in the game.
Draft Day Connection
The Seahawks and Chargers both needed defensive line help prior to the 2004 draft. With the No. 23 pick in the draft, Seattle selected defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs, who has faced weight issues and questions about his work ethic ever since. It seems what he lacks in drive he makes up for with drive-thru.
With the No. 35 pick, the Chargers selected Igor Olshansky, who has been dominant against the run and continues to improve as a pass rusher. He also delivers the type of intensity Seattle would love to see from Tubbs.
In addition to that intensity, Olshansky boasts an unbridled sense of confidence.
"If we play our A-game, there is no way any team can beat us," he said.
For the Record
Nobody wants to play the Chargers right now, hot as they are. But if it's any consolation, the Seahawks have history on their side. Seattle spent 23 years in the AFC West, and the Chargers are the only team from that division it has a winning record against. The Seahawks lead the all-time series 25-22.