This weekend the Chargers make their 2nd cross country trip in as many weeks, this time taking on the 1-1 Tennessee Titans. Tennessee has been rather unimpressive on both sides of the ball in both of their games so far this season but still are a 1.5 point favorite against the 1-1 Chargers.
The Titans had a boring 16-9 victory over the Steelers in week 1. They followed that up by dropping an overtime game against the Houston Texans.
The Texans game should never have gone to overtime. The Titans punted a whopping 8 times, including 6 3-and-0uts. If not for an untimely penalty on JJ Watt the Titans 1st drive would have been a 7th 3-and-out, instead it became an 80 yard touchdown producing drive.
So let’s take a look at why the Chargers will win.
Reason number 1:
The reason the Titans have been able to stay close despite their pathetic offensive production is their 3rd down defense. Through two games the Titans are only allowing a 33.33% conversion rate on 3rd down and have forced an amazing 14 punts. That is tied for 3rd in the league with Denver. The only teams that have forced more punts are Kansas City, who’s numbers are inflated having played the Jaguars week 1 when they forced 11, and New England who have forced 18. New England, much like the Titans, have had disappointing offensive production so far this season and 3rd down defense has kept it close enough for them to win.
Answer: San Diego, however, is converting 59% (17/29) of their 3rd downs and have only punted 7 times through 2 games. If the Chargers can stay above 50% on 3rd down, the Titans just will not be able to keep up.
Reason number 2:
The weakest link in the Chargers armor so far this season has been their pass defense. Through 2 games the Chargers have allowed a league worst 740 passing yards and 5 passing touchdowns.
Answer: Jake Locker. The Titans QB has passed for 273 yards, lowest among QB’s that have started both games this season, and only 2 touchdowns. Locker has also only completed 56% of his passes this season. The one bright spot for Locker this season is that he has thrown 0 interceptions through two games after averaging 1 per start last season. As long as the Chargers can apply a little pressure and the defensive backs play a DECENT game, Locker shouldn’t be a threat to our biggest weakness.
Reason number 3:
Familiarity. The Chargers played the Titans in week 2 of last season and destroyed the Titans 38-10. They held Locker to 50% completions, under 200 yards passing, and forced an interception. The Bolts defense also kept star RB Chris Johnson bottled up giving up only 17 yards on 8 carries. I’m sure Pagano, Wiz, and McCoy pulled out the tape of last years game and have some great notes. The Chargers also have plenty of familiarity with Jackie Battle who played for the Bolts last year and played for the Chiefs before that.
If all 3 of these situations play out as I talked about above, the Chargers will return home next week with a 2-1 record to face the inconsistent Dallas Cowboys. Even if Fluker can’t play and the Chargers are forced to start Harris at right tackle, between multiple TE sets and with how good some of our RB’s are at picking up blocks, I think Rivers will have enough time to get the ball out. Rivers will not get sacked more than twice and the Chargers win by 10.
As always you can follow me on twitter @boltfanindenver