Wild Card Weekend 1/06/08: San Diego Chargers vs. Tennessee Titans
Not this time
Game 2: San Diego Chargers vs. Tennessee Titans 4:30 pm CBS
Bad blood from the regular season that carries over into the playoffs always makes for good theater. Today, the Tennessee Titans and the San Diego Chargers begin a new chapter in their saga.
Vince Young is a game-time decision with a sore quad muscle but chances are he will go today. To avoid the pressure on the edges from the Chargers, Young will have to rely heavily on backs Chris Brown and Lendale White – this will also keep the Chargers off the field and the ball out of LaDainian Tomlinson’s hands. The Titans were ranked 5th in time of possession, so this isn’t something they aren’t used to. Ball control is something that Vince Young seems comfortable with and is a big reason why he is 18-11 as a starter to start his career.
The worst thing that can happen to the Titans today is to fall behind early into the game this would force Young to abandon the run and become a finesse offense. Young has found a comfort zone with speedster Justin Gage and Roydell Williams, who came on strong at the end of the season. Williams was injured this week in practice and is out for today’s game. The one constant for Young has been tight end Bo Scaife, who averaged about 10 yards a catch before going out with a lacerated liver.
Priority one for the Titans is to contain Tomlinson. Up front, Albert Haynesworth has been a rock in the middle and has planty of help on the outside from end Kyle Vanden Bosch. David Thornton and Stephen Tulloch man the weak and middle linebacker positions, but the strength has been and will continue to be the strong side where Keith Bulluck has been a mainstay for 8 seasons. His matchup with Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is one worth watching. The secondary will have to find a way to keep receivers Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson in check.
It would seem that Phillip Rivers might have the easiest job this weekend, just hand off to the game’s best back and not turn the ball over. Rivers can be rattled if the Titans can get a push up the middle and knock Rivers around he can be easily frustrated. When Rivers is in a jam he can dump off to Tomlinson or Gates and have great success. If he wants to go downfield he has a burner in Jackson and a big Gates-like target in Chambers. Expect to see Michael Turner and Darren Sproles get carries as well.
Shawne Merriman was a marked man for the shot that he gave Young in their last meeting. I will be curious to see how this plays out over the course of the game. Luis Castillo and Igor Olshansky bookend Jamal Williams in the Chargers 3-4. They will dare Young to beat them with his arm and legs. From there it’s in the hands of the secondary that is opportunistic and will look to return any pick for a touchdown. League interception leader Antonio romartie is the catalyst for this unit.
Vince Young just doesn’t have enough threats other than himself to make this a game. Chargers in a rout.
Chargers 31 – Titans 10