Key Matchups Week 10

No disrespect to Priest Holmes, or our very own LaDainian Tomlinson, but the Chargers face the best back in the league on Sunday, Marshall Faulk. Obviously the key to the game is limiting Faulk as both a rusher and receiver.

Marshall Faulk is unique in that he has gained over 2,000 yards from scrimmage four years running. Faulk is on pace to surpass the mark for the 5th straight season with 1,170 thus far this season, including 780 rushing.

Faulk has been the catalyst to the resurgence of the Rams. In the three game winning streak that has brought the Rams back to 3-5, Faulk has gained 571 yards in 85 attempts rushing and has 16 catches for 132 yards.

LaDainian Tomlinson has nothing but praise for his opponent this Sunday. "I don't think I'm anywhere close to Marshall Faulk as a running back. I think I still have room to grow. We might be alike in styles a little bit, but I still think he's head and shoulders above me."

"He's the best player in the league," safety Rodney Harrison said. "You know what's so funny? When Marshall wasn't getting the ball, everybody went to 'Priest Holmes is the best.' Marshall Faulk is the best player in the National Football League, hands down, bar none. He can run, he can catch, he has great vision, he has great speed, he's a great competitor, he's very smart, he doesn't make many mistakes. He's like the perfect football player."

After getting through the praise, now it is time to stop him. It will be up to defensive line to shed blocks up front and get into the backfield. Not an easy task against a line that has the six foot seven 320 pound Orlando Pace. Raylee Johnson will have his hands full in that matchup and Faulk is expected to run that way.

"He is one of those guys that I don't think about too much," 1999 and 2001 NFL MVP Kurt Warner said of Pace. "That is probably the biggest compliment that I can give him. When you are a quarterback and he is on your blind side you hope you don't have to think about him and that is the way Orlando is. I never worry about him. I always know that we are going to have a great matchup over there with Orlando on anybody. That is probably the biggest compliment that I can give him."

Marcellus Wiley matches up with John St. Clair on the other side. The key to this lockup will be how the defense behind Wiley handles his cutback lanes. Wiley is expected to get the better of this assignment but will be prone to over pursuing on the outside in an effort to pressure Marc Bulger.

Bulger and Mike Martz will turn to the delay handoff to Faulk having Faulk run underneath Wiley. It will fall into the lap of Donnie Edwards to cover that hole up. Edwards has the best speed of the Chargers linebackers and he is expected to shadow Faulk everywhere he goes. That philosophy will free up Junior Seau to rush the gaps and put pressure on Bulger and hopefully stop Faulk's cutback lanes. Edwards cannot shadow him alone and will need help from the rest of the defense. The problem is Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce can still beat any team deep.

Stopping Faulk or containing him to reasonable stats is the ultimate goal. The Chargers have to make Bulger beat them to win this game.

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