Bolts Notebook: Seahawks Soar into San Diego

When the Seahawks left the AFC West for the NFC in 2002, it was the best thing possible for Seattle and San Diego. Since that time, the Chargers and Seahawks have captured four division titles apiece. These former divisional foes will collide again on Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium in the preseason opener for both teams.

Saturday's Chargers-Seahawks contest will feature a pair of the league's premier pass-rushing teams. Since the start of the 2005 season, the Chargers lead the NFL with 177 sacks and the Seahawks are fourth with 171.

The Chargers will likely be without their newest pass-rushing weapon, first-round pick Larry English, who is expected to sit with a hamstring injury. Shawne Merriman, returning from offseason surgery on his PCL and LCL, will see limited time if any.

When the first-string offenses are on the field, the game will feature two of the NFL's best red-zone quarterbacks. Since arriving in Seattle, Matt Hasselbeck has thrown 97 touchdowns in the red zone against only seven picks. In Rivers' three years as a starter, he's thrown 52 red-zone scores and just two interceptions.

Saturday's preseason opener will allow both teams to debut their free-agent prizes. For Seattle, that means introducing WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh against a Chargers pass defense that ranked dead-last in the AFC last season.

For San Diego, Saturday marks the first game in lightning bolts for LB Kevin Burnett. Burnett, who is competing with Tim Dobbins for a starting role at inside linebacker, will likely start in place of Stephen Cooper, who is recovering from an ankle injury endured during Fan Fest on Saturday, Aug. 8.

If the Chargers come out victorious on Saturday, it won't be because the Seahawks beat themselves. Since 2004, the Seahawks are the least penalized team in the NFC (405 total penalties). Only the New York Jets (399) have been penalized fewer times.

The Chargers and Seahawks also met in the third game of last year's preseason. With the starters playing into the second half, the Chargers pulled off an 18-17 victory. Jacob Hester scored the apparent tying TD on a 1-yard plunge with 2:30 left to play; Billy Volek then hit Malcom Floyd on the two-point conversion to give San Diego the one-point victory.

San Diego and Seattle also played in the preseason opener in 2007, with the Seahawks picking up a 24-16 win.

What are you looking forward to on Saturday? Talk about it in the message boards.

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