Chargers - Seahawks gameday

This is the 48th meeting between San Diego and Seattle, with the Seahawks leading, 25-22. The teams last played in 2002 when the Seahawks prevailed in overtime, giving them five straight wins over the Chargers. Seattle has won 10 of the last 12 meetings between these former AFC West rivals.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/24/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Randy Cross

2006 RANKINGS: Chargers: offense 5th (3rd rush, 17th pass); defense 7th (6th rush, 11th pass). Seahawks: offense 22nd (16th rush, 20th pass); defense 17th (22nd rush, 16th pass)

PREDICTION: Chargers 23-17

KEYS TO THE GAME:

The Seahawks' offense is struggling to find any rhythm, in large part because the line isn't run- or pass-blocking well. That's a dangerous combination against a Chargers defense that is very stout against the run and then able to abuse opposing quarterbacks in long passing situations.

The Seahawks not only need RB Shaun Alexander to get positive yardage on early downs, but QB Matt Hasselbeck must improve his decision making under pressure and his receivers have to stop dropping passes.

The Chargers' offense has been rolling thanks to RB LaDainian Tomlinson's historic roll, but San Diego wants to get QB Philip Rivers back on track and confident before the end of the regular season.

Seattle has had major issues stopping the run, but if the Seahawks can keep Tomlinson under control they do have quick linebackers who can bring the heat against Rivers.

FAST FACTS: Chargers: Clinch first-round bye with a win, and home-field advantage if Baltimore also loses. ... Rivers leads the NFL with a 116.9 fourth-quarter passer rating. Seahawks: Clinch NFC West with a win or a loss by San Francisco. ... Hasselbeck has been sacked more times in 10 games (27) than he was in 16 games last season (24).

Chargers:

--DE Luis Castillo didn't practice Thursday as he is nursing the sprained ankle that cost him four games earlier in the year. He will probably go Sunday. If not, Jacques Cesaire would fill in. --ILB Randall Godfrey didn't practice Thursday but seems to think he will go Sunday. If not a very capable backup in Stephen Cooper would replace him. --LB Marques Harris worked after being slowed with a hamstring injury. He should go Sunday, but his game is based on speed, so that might hamper him.

--G Scott Mruczkowski is still down with a knee injury. He didn't practice and he won't play.

--WR Eric Parker is still being bothered by a sore neck and he didn't practice on Thursday. There's a chance he can't go Sunday and if he does, his play could be compromised. Vincent Jackson would get the extra reps if he can't go and Keenan McCardell would handle the punts.

Seahawks:

--C Robbie Tobeck missed practice again Thursday. He will not play Sunday.

--WR Darrell Jackson missed practice again Thursday. He remains doubtful on the injury report.

--LG Floyd Womack missed practice again Thursday. He remains questionable on the injury report.

--DT Rocky Bernard practiced for a second consecutive day Thursday. He is expected to start Sunday despite a lingering foot injury.

--DE Robert Pollard practiced Thursday. He has been bothered by a knee injury.


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