Can Chargers Tackle The Texans?

After days of uncertainty, the Chargers received the good news that they will host the Houston Texans at Qualcomm Stadium as originally scheduled. The Chargers come in riding a two-game winning streak and are two-score favorites to keep that momentum alive. Here are some matchups to watch, game scenarios and final predictions.

Offensive Matchup: Chris Chambers vs. Dunta Robinson

The Chargers will waste no time incorporating Chambers into the offense. Philip Rivers has never played with a receiver as talented as Chambers and can't wait to start attacking teams outside the hashes. Former first-round pick Robinson will make Chambers' first outing a challenging one. Robinson has started every game since 2004 and has 11 interceptions during that time. He is one of the top five cover corners in the league.

Defensive Matchup: Stephen Cooper vs. Ahman Green

Cooper has exceed expectations as a first-year starter. He leads the team with 45 tackles -- 15 more than the next closest defender -- and has chipped in a sack and a fumble recovery. Cooper will have his hands full with Green, who has been invited to four Pro Bowls (2002-05) and rushed for more than 1,000 yards in six of the last seven seasons. Green is similar in many ways to LaDainian Tomlinson -- both are shifty runners, gritty pass protectors and dangerous in space. Green's uncle, Michael Green, was a 16th-round pick of the Chargers in 1970.

The Chargers will win if…

Tomlinson continues his strong play of late. Norv Turner wants to wear down a Texans defense that ranks No. 20 against the run. Tomlinson is coming off a 198-yard, two-score game, but it will be difficult to duplicate those numbers against the Texans. Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick will miss the game with a foot injury and will be replaced by eight-year veteran Cory Withrow. Also, the Texans defensive line features three former first-round picks (Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye and Travis Johnson), all of whom will be keeping blockers off reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year DeMeco Ryans.

The Chargers will lose if…

The secondary plays like it did in weeks 2-4. The Texans have some wide receivers capable of exposing a shaky secondary. Andre Davis leads the league in yards per catch (19.2) among players with at least 12 receptions. Kevin Walter is No. 23 in the league with 33 receptions, 64 percent of which have gone for first downs. If Andre Johnson plays, this unit goes from formidable to downright scary. Johnson has been limited in practice all week and is expected to miss the game. Regardless of who plays for the Texans, the Chargers need a big game out of Antonio Cromartie. The second-year prop nabbed his first career interception last time out and will see even more time on Sunday with Drayton Florence battling a knee injury.

Prediction: The Chargers are determined to lift the spirits of a downtrodden city. Making that mission far more plausible is the fact that the Chargers are far more talented than the still developing Texans. It is hard to imagine a banged up Matt Schaub excelling against the pass rush of Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips.

Chargers 31, Texans 17

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.


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