The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have struggled against the run over the last two weeks, allowing an average of 237 per game. If the Chargers are going to keep that trend rolling, the team needs a big game from the 11-year veteran Goff. Whether he's drive blocking on the right side or pulling to the left, Goff must win his one-on-one matchups and reach the second level of Tampa's speedy defense.
Goff will be pitted against Hovan, who returns after missing last week's game with a knee injury. Hovan (6-foot-2, 296 pounds) plays with great quickness and intensity, allowing him to disrupt plays in the backfield. Goff must hold Hovan at bay so the Chargers can develop an effective north-and-south running game. If Hovan can get into the backfield and force LaDainian Tomlinson to bounce his runs wide, it plays right into the hands of the ultra-fast Buccaneers.
When the Chargers Pass: WR Chris Chambers vs. CB Ronde Barber
WR Chris Chambers
Chambers will be matched against Barber, who has shown no signs of slowing down at 33 years old. Barber has four interceptions over the last four games, brining one back 65 yards for a touchdown. Barber is very aggressive and will sit on routes in order to make picks. Chambers must exploit this aggressiveness and take some shots downfield if the Chargers are to loosen up the league's No. 3 ranked pass defense.
When the Buccaneers Run: OLB Jyles Tucker vs. TE Alex Smith
Tucker has shown flashes as a pass-rusher but must become stouter against the run. He finished last week's game against the Kansas City Chiefs without a tackle and has to be more consistent if he expects a big role in the defense next season, when Shawne Merriman returns from his knee injury.
The Buccaneers do a lot of running out of the two-tight end set, with Smith doing the heavy-duty blocking. Smith will look to use Tucker's aggressiveness against him, as the second-year linebacker often runs himself out of plays. Tucker must show more discipline on Sunday if the Chargers are to slow down the one-two punch of Warrick Dunn and Carnell Williams.
When the Buccaneers Pass: CB Quentin Jammer vs. WR Michael Clayton
CB Quentin Jammer
Clayton is having a quiet statistical season, catching just 34 balls for 374 yards (11.0-yard avg), but he is always a part of the game plan. He has at least three receptions in 9-of-13 games and is a tempting option in short-yardage situations. Jammer must provide consistently tight coverage against Clayton to help the defense get off the field on third down.
Just for Kicks: LB Brandon Siler vs. KR Clifton Smith
Smith is one of the most dangerous return men in the NFL, earning his first Pro Bowl invite earlier this week. He's been utterly explosive since being called up from the practice squad two months ago, scoring a touchdown on a kickoff return and another on a punt return.
Siler will lead the effort to keep Smith under wraps. The second-year linebacker will also play a key role on defense as part of the goal line package. The Buccaneers have a bad habit of settling for field goals in the red zone, and Siler must ensure that trend continues if the Chargers are to leave Tampa Bay with a victory.
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.