QB Philip Rivers has gotten comfortable throwing to tall receivers over the last two weeks, when the starting tandem of Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd (both 6-foot-5) combined for 16 catches, 316 yards and four touchdowns. Floyd will likely be bumped from the starting lineup this week if Chris Chambers plays through an ankle injury, but Floyd will still see plenty of time given his strong play of late.
The Chargers receivers have a significant size advantage against the corners of the New Orleans Saints. No Saints cornerback is more than 6-feet tall and three of their top-five corners are 5-foot-10 or less. That is not to imply the Saints secondary isn't effective, as New Orleans ranks No. 4 in opponent's completion percentage. However, the Chargers should be able to win some jump balls downfield if Rivers has time to stand in the pocket and deliver.
DL Ryon Bingham
It's no secret the Chargers' biggest defensive shortcoming is the lack of a consistent pass rush. That problem could become especially glaring this week against Drew Brees, who leads the NFL in passing yards (2,224) and ranks in the top five in completion percentage (68.4). While the outside linebackers provide most of the rush in a 3-4 scheme, the Chargers need more from their defensive line, which has produced only 5.5 sacks this season.
It won't be easy to generate a consistent rush against the Saints, who have allowed the fourth-fewest sacks in the NFL (seven) despite leading the league in pass attempts (263). Do the math and that's one sack for every 37.5 pass attempts. The Chargers must do better than that if they hope to protect a secondary that ranks dead-last in pass defense (254.6 yards per game).
Special Teams Matchup to Watch: San Diego's kickoff coverage team vs. New Orleans' kick returner Pierre Thomas
Although the Chargers are extremely fortunate to face the Saints sans Reggie Bush, that doesn't mean New Orleans can't bust a big play on special teams. Thomas ranks No. 12 in the NFL with an average of 25.2 yards per kick return. Thomas will also play more on offense with Bush injured, and the last thing the Chargers want is let him get rolling with a big play on special teams. Kassim Osgood, Brandon Siler & Co. must avoid a drop-off just because the headliner is out of action.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.