Finally! Some meaning football is upon us. With the start of the 2015 NFL season just two days away, East Village Times is here with extensive coverage of your Bolts as they take on the Detroit Lions of the NFC North.
When: Sunday, September 13th 1:05 pm PT
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Betting: San Diego -3 favorites
The Bolts hold a 6-4 series lead in the all-time match-ups and are undefeated at 4-0 when playing in San Diego, which is where this game is being played.
The Chargers are coming off a disappointing 2014 campaign that saw them lose to the Chiefs in the last game of the season with a playoff berth on the line. The Chargers finished 9-7 and will look to build on what was a solid offseason in my opinion.
The Lions are coming off an 11-5 season that saw them advance to the postseason for the first time since 2011. They finished second in the NFC North and lost in the NFC Wildcard game to the Dallas Cowboys 24-20.
Philip Rivers signed a new 4-year deal worth $84 million during the preseason that will just about guarantee him being a Charger for life. Rivers is now 33, looking to ride off into the sunset and the twilight of his career. He’s got some new faces on offense this year which should make the Chargers even more dangerous on offense.
The first order of business for Tom Toesco was improving the offensive line, so he went out and signed Orlando Franklin and Joe Barksdale. D.J Fluker will slide into the right guard position after starting his first two seasons at the tackle position. The offensive line is massive and should be opening up holes for this three headed monster in the backfield.
The Chargers took Melvin Gordon with the 15th overall pick in the May’s draft and after a pedestrian preseason, we will see how he looks against a stout front seven of the Lions. I’m sure Gordon will be fine and there’s no reason to overreact in his first look of NFL action. Behind Gordon, Danny Woodhead is back and healthy and ready to make an immediet impact. The Chargers are a different offense when he’s in the lineup and don’t forget about Brandon Oliver who burst onto the scene last year after all the injuries. He’ll still be involved especially if Gordon struggles early on finding holes.
One of the players I’m most excited to see is Stevie Johnson and the receiving core. Stevie Johnson named the Chargers’ receivers Aliens because they are not of this world. With Antonio Gates suspended for the first four games, I’m excited to see this group step up and produce in big spots. Stevie Johnson is going to tear it up against the Lions secondary. Look for the chemistry to be there early and often with Rivers.
A unit that struggled last year should be improved but will still count on the health of outside linebackers Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Ataochu, Kyle Emanuel, the fifth round pick from North Dakota St. has turned heads all preseason and will be rotating in with the first team defense and will look to get the pass rush going against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit offense.
The strength of the Chargers’ D will be their secondary. Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers will hold down the corner positions and should be one of the top tandems in the league. They will certainly have their hands full in the first game as they face off against Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Eric Weddle will be patroling the whole field once again as the All-Pro saftey enters what could be his last season as a member of the Chargers, but you know the beard will be working his butt off every play this year.
Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford is entering his seventh season in the league and leads the offense
in a pass happy offense. With two Pro-Bowl recievers, Stafford has options on who to get the ball to. On one side you have the veteran Calvin Johnson, just about as unstoppable as they come and will be a real test for Flowers and Verrett on the outside.
You can’t forget about Golden Tate who caught 99 passes and over 1,300 yards. When Johnson was injured Tate exploded and became the go-to guy for Stafford. They are both dangerous receivers that will need be blanketed with double teams.
In the backfield it will be a heavy dose of Joique Bell and rookie RB Ameer Abdullah out of Nebraska. Abdullah has looked sharp all preseason and is a very shifty runner who the Chargers defenders will have to make sure they wrap him up and gang tackle.
The Lions’ defense looks to move on post Ndamukong Suh, who departed for Miami in the offseason. Don’t think the Chargers are out of the woods, oh no, the Lions brought in Haloti Ngata from the Ravens to clog up the middle of the D. The Chargers offensive line will be tested throughout the game keeping Rivers upright and opening up holes in the running game.
Saftey Grover Quin will be patrolling center field for the Lions who was a Pro-Bowler last year and led the NFL with 7 INT’s. He leads a very experienced secondary that will test Rivers and these talented receivers right out of the game. It should be a great matchup across the board.
What we’re watching:
Despite all the improvements on offense and new faces, I’m looking forward to watching the Chargers’ special teams in the first game of the season. Jacoby Jones is a threat to take back one back to the house on any special teams play and should provide a huge boost to a terrible aspect of the Chargers play last season. I’m also going to be watching Jake Lambo who won the kicking job over the sure footed Nick Novak this preseason. As a shock to most as Lambo is just a rookie, he has a stronger leg than Novak and had more touchbacks this preseason. With the new distance on extra points, it will put more pressure on him to execute and it will be interesting to watch how he handles the pressure!
Chargers in a shootout 30-24 final.
Bolt Up! Wear white on Sunday for the White Heat.