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    St. Louis at San Diego - Preview

    St. Louis at San Diego - Preview

    By Dan Di Sciullo, NFL Contributing Editor

    (Sports Network) - The San Diego Chargers had a rough week, and would like to take out their frustrations on the St. Louis Rams when the teams meet this Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.

    First of all, San Diego dropped a divisional game in Kansas City after the Chiefs rolled through the vaunted Chargers defense en route to a dramatic 30-27 victory.

    However, the big news came after the game, when it was revealed that outside linebacker Shawne Merriman will be suspended for four games for violating the NFL's steroid policy. Merriman has since announced that he will appeal the suspension, so it's uncertain when he will actually begin serving the penalty.

    Last week's loss also dropped San Diego one game behind Denver for first place in the AFC West.

    Meanwhile, the Rams should be well-rested for this week's encounter as they are coming off a bye week. St. Louis was last in action on October 15, and was dealt a 30-28 setback by Seattle in that meeting.

    St. Louis was outscored, 23-7, in the second half en route to its home loss to the Seahawks.


    The Rams hold a 5-3 edge in their all-time series with the Chargers, and won their last two meetings with San Diego, both in the Gateway City. St. Louis was a 28-24 winner when the teams met in 2002, and also claimed a 57-31 decision in 2000. The Chargers won the most recent meeting played between the teams in San Diego, a 31-17 triumph in their Super Bowl season of 1994. The only other contest between the teams in San Diego, in 1975, resulted in a 13-10 overtime win for the then-Los Angeles Rams.

    Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer is 3-2 in his career against the Rams, including 0-1 since taking the helm of San Diego in 2002. St. Louis' Scott Linehan will be meeting both Schottenheimer and the Chargers for the first time as a head coach.


    The coaching change from Mike Martz to Linehan has done little to alter the fact that the Rams have one of the best passing offenses in the NFL. This year, St. Louis is averaging 247 passing yards per game and ranks fourth in the league in that category. Marc Bulger (1,619 yards, 10 TD, 1 INT) has done an excellent job at leading this offense, and is third in the NFL with a 99.8 passer rating. He turned in a strong performance two weeks ago against the Seahawks, throwing for 360 yards and three touchdowns to go with one interception. He had a 111.1 rating in that game to mark his fourth straight performance with a QB rating of over 100. Torry Holt (37 catches, 526 yards, 7 TD) had a monster game versus Seattle, hauling in eight passes for 154 yards and three TDs. Veteran wideout Isaac Bruce (27 catches, 388 yards, 1 TD) added five catches for 45 yards, and running back Steven Jackson (25 catches, 224 yards) added seven receptions for 40 yards.

    Merriman's suspension is not expected to start until after this week, so the Chargers will likely have his superior pass-rushing skills at their disposal on Sunday. The second-year star has 5 1/2 of San Diego's 23 sacks this season and has helped give the Chargers the second-best pass defense in the NFL this year. However, the Chiefs had a solid day throwing the ball last Sunday as Damon Huard completed 15-of-27 passes for 232 yards and two TDs. Safeties Terrence Kiel (14 tackles) and Marlon McCree (16 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) led the secondary with four tackles apiece. San Diego is allowing just 159.2 passing yards per game.

    St. Louis has struggled a bit in the running game this season, and that was the case two weeks ago against the Seahawks. The Rams managed only 59 yards on the ground and 56 of those came on Jackson's 20 carries. Jackson (521 yards, 2 TD) did score a touchdown in the game, but was held under 100 yards for the fourth straight game after beginning the season with back-to-back triple-digit performances. The Rams are ranked 22nd in the NFL with 98.2 rushing yards per contest.

    The Chargers defense was dominated by Kansas City's rushing attack last week and allowed Chiefs running back Larry Johnson to have his best game of the season. Johnson carried the ball 28 times for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns. San Diego defensive tackle Jamal Williams (21 tackles, 2 sacks) is the Chargers main run-stopper and posted four tackles in the loss. Middle linebacker Donnie Edwards (35 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) made a team-high 10 stops and Merriman added eight tackles. Second-year defensive end Derreck Robinson (7 tackles, 1 sack) had the best game of his career with five tackles and half-a-sack.


    The Chargers have the third-best rushing offense in the NFL this season with 148 yards on the ground per week. LaDainian Tomlinson (473 yards, 7 TD) is off to another great season, but only managed 66 yards on 15 carries last week in KC. L.T. still wound up making a huge impact on the game, as he caught a touchdown pass and threw another one in the fourth quarter. Michael Turner (295 yards, 1 TD) has done a great job spelling Tomlinson when needed this season, and had 18 yards on four attempts last Sunday. San Diego ran for 97 yards as a team against the Chiefs.

    The St. Louis defense still has a long way to go, but has shown some signs of improvement in Linehan's first year. The Rams did struggle at stopping the run against the Seahawks despite the absence of Seattle's No. 1 running back Shaun Alexander. The Seahawks used a committee approach and gained 125 yards on 28 carries, with Maurice Morris leading the way with 74 yards on 23 attempts. Middle linebacker Will Witherspoon (46 tackles) had a very busy day, making a team-high 11 tackles. Defensive end Leonard Little (20 tackles, 5 sacks) led the line with four stops and also forced Morris to fumble. Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (16 tackles) also made four stops in the setback and recovered the Morris fumble. The Rams are 23rd in the NFL with 121.3 yards allowed per contest.

    Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has been doing an excellent job in his first year as an NFL starter, and had another solid game last week. Rivers (1,330 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT) completed passes to six different receivers and ended with 266 yards, two TDs and an interception on 25-of-43 passing. Tight end Antonio Gates (27 catches, 318 yards, 4 TD) led the way with nine receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. Tomlinson (32 catches, 246 yards, 1 TD) had 72 yards on six catches, including the 37-yard TD catch, and also hit Brandon Manumaleuna in the end zone with a one-yard pass. It was the fifth TD pass of Tomlinson's career, and his first of the season. San Diego is 13th in the NFL with 214.2 passing yards per contest.

    The Rams have not been great at stopping the pass this season, and are currently ranked 22nd in the league in that category with 218 yards surrendered per game. Matt Hasselbeck took advantage of this fact two weeks ago and threw for 268 yards and three touchdown passes. This was despite a solid pass rush by St. Louis, which posted four of its 13 sacks this season against the Seahawks. Outside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (23 tackles, 2 sacks) had one of the sacks and also finished with four tackles. Strong safety Corey Chavous (29 tackles, 1 INT) led the secondary with five stops.


    The Chargers have a few reasons to blow off some steam this week, and are returning home for the first time since early October. Sounds like a recipe for success. San Diego is 2-0 at home this year and won those two games by a combined score of 63-20. The Rams offense will get its yards as usual and possibly some points, but the defense will have to play a nearly flawless game to stop Tomlinson and the San Diego offense. Also, expect a big game from Merriman, in what could be his last football game for a few weeks.

    Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Chargers 31, Rams 20

  2. #2
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    Re: St. Louis at San Diego - Preview

    St. Louis has struggled a bit in the running game this season
    SJ is still one of the best this year in rushing hmmm.

  3. #3
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    Re: St. Louis at San Diego - Preview

    To Beat san diego we must run the ball well enough to get the defense to respect it then we can light them up through the air as damon huard did and we all know bulger is way more talented than that kid so I really have a good feeling about this game I say we pull this one out
    Torry Holt Dont play that

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    Re: St. Louis at San Diego - Preview

    [QUOTE=letsgoramz;141432]To Beat san diego we must run the ball well enough to get the defense to respect it then we can light them up through the air as damon huard did and we all know bulger is way more talented than that kid so I really have a good feeling about this game I say we pull this one out[/QUOTE

    To predictable?
    I"m thinking just the opposite. Quick short passes like the Cards did vs Bears.
    Then start spreading out the pass routes a little more as the Chargers adjust.
    In essence open up the running game with a successful passing game. Keep the Chargers D off balance.


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