Here are the three things the Bolts must do if they want come away with a win on the road in Week 7.
1.) Score point by point
The Chargers probably won’t shut down Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and the rest of their weapons, so they will have to score, score, score if they want to avoid a blowout.
2.)Get pressure on Matt Ryan
If you let Matt Ryan sit there with all the time in the world, he will pick you apart. The Chargers have struggled this season in getting pressure and actually getting to the QB. Being without situational pass rusher Jerry Attaochu this week, they will need someone to step up (where are you Melvin Ingram?)
3.) Play Loose
This means, don’t try to do too much. The Chargers struggle on the road and struggle versus good teams. Well, versus the Falcons that is two things into one. The Falcons went into Seattle last week and almost won. Don’t try to force plays and just go with the flow.
What are your keys to victory? Let me know below!
Zak Darman (@WilMyersGOAT)
The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their takes and predictions to Sunday’s upcoming match-up versus the Falcons.
Zak Darman: This should be a high-scoring game. Both teams have good offenses. The Chargers have a better defense but they don’t really have anyone who can stop Julio Jones. Benjamin isn’t a lock to play, and without him their receivers are Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, and Griff Whalen (yes, I had to go to the team’s depth chart to even put him down). Hunter Henry gets another touchdown and Rivers goes for 300+ yards but comes up just short. Although teams lose about 70% of the time the week after playing the Seahawks…. Falcons 35-31.
Chris LaFurno: Late Julio game-winning touchdown and Chargers offense can’t answer back as Atlanta wins a nail biter. Falcons 37 Chargers 34.
Michael Brazeel: Rivers will have to go length of field in :40 with no timeouts, as usual, and come up short. Falcons 35-31.
Corey Decker: The Falcons are coming in with a chip on their shoulder so expect them to come out firing. Falcons 34-28.
Travis Blake: I’ve been feeling all week that the Bolts will start slow and sluggish in this one. That’s probably coming from the fact it’s a mini-bye week for the team, and a later than usual start for an east coast game (game time is 1:05 PM PST). The question is can they overcome a slow start and finish out a game strong, instead of leaving us all with that familiar feeling of they screwed something up, or almost did? I believe this defense will continue to build off its improvement in the Bronco game and stop the run. The Bolts will get the running game going and pull off several long drives that quiet the crowd. Bolts win their first road game of the year. Chargers 31-24.
Laura Leech: High scoring game with two explosive offenses. Chargers defense is not facing a sub-par OL like they did against Denver. That extra rest from a Thursday game should help a little, but flying to the East Coast is never easy for any team. It will come down to which defense can cause the most turnovers. Unfortunately, though, Falcons get this one. 38-34 Falcons.
Brian Scott: The defense for the Bolts is playing at a high level and with confidence. Ryan gets sacked multiple times. Air show begins and ends with Rivers throwing his 4th touchdown pass. Gordon scores and gets 80 yards. Chargers finally win back to back games since 2014. 41-31 Bolts.
Chris Hoke: The Falcons start the game driving down the field on their first possession and scoring on a TD to Julio Jones. The bolts respond with a long drive in which we are forced to settle for a Lambo field goal. This is repeated till the second half in Which its 14-6. Chargers come out in the second half and MG breaks away for a huge TD run. It’s wire to wire from this point where the bolts go for it on 4th down. MG gets stuffed and the rest is history. The Falcons hang on 35-29.
Cheryl White: Been thinking all week that this is going to be a tough one, too. Aforementioned trip to East Coast and later start time may be detrimental. I would point out that this team did go to Baltimore and was the first west coast team to win there, although that was 2014. Downside, no Slayer/Woodhead/Verrett this time. We do have Gordon who is running better plus Henry; and lets not forget Bosa. If he can’t get to Ryan maybe he pressures him enough that someone else can. Hayward and Phillips in the secondary though versus those WRs are challenging. Atlanta’s OL is tough and their HC knows a thing or 2 about defense. There better be a damn good game plan in place. Don’t for the love of God go prevent defense or stop running Gordon. Have some guts and get after it because Atlanta WILL capitalize if you allow them to. 38-35 Bolts.
Mike Pisciotta: Chargers will again open an early lead and go conservative. McCoy, Whiz and Pagano love to sit on leads, and they will piss away another one. 37-31 Atlanta in overtime.
Will McCafferty: Honestly, I’m far from confident this week. I felt better about he Denver game. This reminds me of the New Orleans game with a higher power offense. It should be a shootout as both teams can move the ball. Hopefully, the Chargers can get the ball in the end zone and not settle for field goals. Atlanta should be able to score as well. Chargers 38 Falcons 34
Dave Peters: The Chargers actually play a game well from start to finish in this one. This is one of those games where no one, for the most part, expects them to win. The Chargers’ offense outpaces Atlanta, as Hunter Henry scores for the fourth consecutive game and Philip Rivers throws for over 300 yards and three scores. Bosa gets his third and fourth sacks, respectively, while Denzel Perryman recovers a fumble and takes it to the house. Bolts 41 Falcons 27.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is not certain where he’ll be playing in 2016 and not just because of the team’s shaky stadium situation in San Diego.
In case you missed it, Rivers talked with the U-T San Diego about his future with the team.
Basically said he’s committed to playing out his contract with the Bolts, which expires after the 2015 season, but is unsure whether he’ll sign a new contract or try to work out an extension before training camp starts in July.
One of the reasons is, of course, family. Philip and his wife Tiffany have built a family in San Diego and if a move is necessary they will likely try to make it back South (both are from Alabama) instead of Los Angeles.
Add that revelation to the fact the Chargers are bringing in Oregon QB Marcus Mariota for a workout in April, and all of a sudden you have grounds for some serious speculation on a major overhaul of the Chargers offense.
So, let’s remove the emotion from the situation and sort some of it out logically.
First and foremost, the Chargers want to keep Rivers in place. General Manager Tom Telesco came from Indianapolis. His first year there was 1998, when the Colts drafted Peyton Manning. His last year there was 2012, when they took Andrew Luck. If anybody understands the importance of having a franchise quarterback in place, it’s Telesco (You can hear for yourself how Tom feels about Rivers in the video attached to this story, which was recorded December 31, 2014).
Telesco says he thinks Rivers has a number of good years left in him. The recent signings of Stevie Johnson and Orlando Franklin would suggest the Bolts still consider Rivers the key to their offense. For now, at least. Telesco also said he’s committed to Rivers retiring as a Charger.
But, what if Rivers is not? Then what do the Chargers do?
Bolts fans don’t have to think too far back to see what happened the last time the team let a QB walk out of town while getting nothing in return. In about 10 years they’ll see it on the bust of Drew Brees in Canton, OH. Rivers blossoming into a star eased the pain of Brees’ success, but the odds of having three Pro Bowl (and possibly Hall of Fame) caliber passers in a row are astronomical.
Here’s where Mariota enters the mix.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is going to have a private workout for the Bolts’ brass. Mariota’s athletic skill set could not be more different than Rivers, but having him learn for a year under #17 (who has already spent time coaching the youngster before the NFL Combine) would not be a bad thing.
If Telesco gets the vibe he’s not going to be able to retain Rivers long-term, he needs to be looking out for his franchise, and he could certainly do worse than adding someone as talented as Mariota.
Of course, that opens the question of … how would the Chargers get their hands on Mariota? He’s projected to be long gone before the Bolts make their selection in this year’s Draft (and no, the irony of that pick being #17 has not been lost). So, the Chargers would have to make a trade up.
Assuming Tampa Bay selects Jameis Winston first overall (which they’ve said publicly they’re leaning towards), the next team up also has serious QB issues: Tennessee. The Titans are quite the interesting possibility.
Ken Whisenhunt is their head coach. In 2013, he had a tremendous relationship with Rivers while serving as San Diego’s offensive coordinator. He would love to get his hands on Philip. However, sources close to the Titans tell me they’d be “shocked” if Tennessee traded the second overall pick for Rivers.
The Titans have a bunch of holes to fill. They are not one QB away from being true contenders. So, if they do deal the number two pick, it will be to stockpile other picks, and the Chargers are not likely to make that kind of gamble when they have as many issues to address as they do (o-line, d-line, running back, linebacker, etc.).
Looking at the rest of the NFL Draft order, there aren’t many teams who will use a pick on a quarterback:
3) Jacksonville – took Blake Bortles last year
4) Oakland – took Derek Carr last year
5) Washington – still don’t know what to do with Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy
6) NY Jets – ABSOLUTELY NEED A QB
7) Chicago – Possibility here. Jay Cutler could be released in another year
8) Atlanta – Matt Ryan
9) NY Giants – Eli Manning
10) St. Louis – just traded for Nick Foles but still a possibility
11) Minnesota – took Teddy Bridgewater last year
12) Cleveland – took Johnny Manziel last year
13) New Orleans – Drew Brees
14) Miami – Ryan Tannehill, although it’s possible they’re not 100% sold on him
15) San Francisco – Colin Kaepernick, basically the same style as Mariota
16) Houston – definitely in the market for a QB
So, the Chargers might not have to deal Rivers to get their hands on Mariota. If he falls far enough in the first round, they could conceivably move up just a couple of spots and not sacrifice too much (of course, the Eagles are lurking at #20 and, despite what Chip Kelly says about Sam Bradford, he’d make a more for his former recruit).
So you see there are a lot of moving pieces in play that would have to line up for Marcus Mariota to land in San Diego.
The other part of this whole scenario is this: The Chargers offense is built around Philip Rivers. If he is shockingly dealt before this year, or allowed to leave after the 2015 season, a whole lot of guys will go with him.
Antonio Gates, also a free agent, will leave. Eric Weddle, also a free agent, will leave. Those guys are not going to wait around for a rebuild; they’ve been through enough already. The entire identity of the Chargers, the franchise as we know it, will cease to exist. It will signal a complete personality change for the franchise.
Now, you can crack your jokes about that being perfect for a team playing in a new city, but the fact is this is a defining moment in Chargers history, not just off the field, but on it, as well.