The Week Ahead

The 2-0 Chargers face the 1-1 Arizona Cardinals this Sunday at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona at 1:05 p.m. The Cardinals won last season's game on Bill Gramatica's 42-yard field goal as time expired.

Arizona is coming off an impressive win against the Seattle Seahawks. They ran behind their huge offensive line, which averages 6'6 and 321 pounds, to the tune of 249 yards on 35 carries. An impressive 7.1 yards per carry, with Thomas Jones getting 174 of those yards. With the impressive run blocking, Jake Plummer was not asked to do much. Plummer managed just 107 yards through the air with David Boston leading the way in receptions with 4 and yards receiving with 49. The Arizona defense let up 81 yards rushing on 29 attempts, an average of 2.8 yards a carry. The pass defense was not as stellar with Trent Dilfer throwing for 352 yards. 3 separate times the Cardinals defense stopped the Seahawks on 4th down.

The Chargers took out the Texans last week and have yet to allow a TD this year. They won convincingly 24-3 and impressed with their defense by getting 9 sacks. Rookie linebacker Ben Leber led the way with 3 sacks and is up for Rookie of the Week honors for his efforts. Rookie safety Vernon Fox had a stellar game in for the injured Rodney Harrison. Curtis Conway led the offense with 5 receptions for 113 yards.

The Chargers can ill afford to have a conservative game plan for this game. The Cardinals offense is riding a running game for the first time in years and while Plummer has been inconsistent, he still has some serious weapons on offense as the Charger defense faces its first real test of the year. The Chargers also cannot look past this game to the New England game next week, as that will spell certain doom for this week's stiff competition.

Keys to a Charger Victory

1. Open up the offense. Tim Dwight, Reche Caldwell, and Tamarick Vanover need some receptions. A repeat shutout performance from these 3 like last week will spell a loss. They also need to test a defense that gave up over 350 yards in the air last week.

2. Continue blitzing. The Cardinal offensive line allowed only 29 sacks last year and is getting better every week. Plummer has been known to try and do too much which gets him and trouble, and creating pressure will force his hand into situations that favor the Chargers.

3. Contain David Boston. He will get his catches no matter how the game plays out, but the 6'2, 225 pound WR needs to be tackled as soon as he makes a reception. Vernon Fox will again be a big part of the gameplan with Rodney Harrison out.

4. Special Teams. The Chargers allowed a 48-yard punt return and a 37-yard kickoff return last week. They need to win the field position battle and make Jake Plummer and the Cardinals drive the length of the field. MarTay Jenkins ran back a kickoff 95 yards for a TD last week earning him NFC Special Temas Player of the Week honors and needs to be kept in check. Jenkins is one of the best return men in the league.

5. Convert on 3rd down. The Chargers were 4-14 last week converting 3rd downs. They need to avoid 3rd and long situations and get other players involved in the offense. Receivers need to know where the 1st down marker is and ensure their routes are past that marker.

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