Game Predictions & Player Projections - SD vs ARI

Game Predictions & Player Projections - SD vs ARI

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Game Predictions & Player Projections - SD vs ARI

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Prediction: SD 17, ARI 27 (Line: ARI by 3)

UPDATE: Andre Ellington injured his foot in practice and the results of his MRI were not yet publicly disclosed. But speculation is that he could be out as much as four to six weeks which means at least for this week he is a huge risk to rely on, even more so on a Monday night when you likely have no other options. I am removing him from the projections and inserting Jonathan Dwyer, Stepfan Taylor would also likely figure in. This is definitely the biggest surprise of week one. Andre Gates was added to the injury report after injuring a hamstring on Saturday. He will be a game time decision so I am lowering his projections and he may not play.

The 9-7 Chargers made the playoffs last year but were only 4-4 on the road while the 10-6 Cardinals missed the post-season and owned a 6-2 home mark. These teams rarely play each other but both carry much the same team and scheme as 2013 forward into this season. Figure the Cards defense at home should help carry the day.

San Diego Chargers

1 @ARI —– 10 BYE —–
2 SEA —– 11 OAK —–
3 @BUF —– 12 STL —–
4 JAC —– 13 @BAL —–
5 NYJ —– 14 NE —–
6 @OAK —– 15 DEN —–
7 KC —– 16 @SF —–
8 @DEN —– 17 @KC —–
9 @MIA —–  
News | Statistics | Roster
SD @ ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 250,2
RB Danny Woodhead 5-50
WR Keenan Allen 4-60
WR Malcom Floyd 3-50,1
TE Jeff Cumberland 3-20
TE Antonio Gates 4-30

The Chargers were a major surprise when they did not collapse during a rebuilding year as expected. Instead, Philip Rivers had one of his best seasons passing for 4478 yards and 32 touchdowns while the Chargers enjoyed what proved to be one of the easiest schedules in the league. That’s not so for 2014 as it currently stands since they’ll be facing defenses from the NFC West and AFC East. The offense clearly benefited from Ken Whisenhunt who went on this year to lead the Titans. OC Frank Reich was just promoted up from being the QB coach to keep the same offense in place.

The backfield was very productive last year and Ryan Mathews posted career best marks with 1255 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. More importantly, he finally played in all 16 games and remained healthy for the first season ever. Danny Woodhead came over from the Patriots and really added a nice element to the offense with 76 catches for 605 yards and six scores. This remains a committee backfield and even added Donald Brown for more depth. The question this year is if Mathews can remain healthy for a second year and how much the schedule of 2013 was responsible for their success.

One of the reasons that the Chargers were thought to be hurting last year was the state of the receivers but the rookie Keenan Allen burst onto the scene as the most productive in his class despite being a third round pick and the eighth overall wideout selected. Allen never started until the fourth game in but still ended with 71 catches for 1046 yards and eight touchdowns. He scored seven times over the final six games including the playoffs that ended with a 6-142-2 stat line in Denver.

Unfortunately, Allen did not get much help. Eddie Royal scored five times over the first two weeks and then did nearly nothing the rest of the way. Vincent Brown remained a disappointment and was recently released. Malcom Floyd missed most of 2013 with a neck injury but is back as the starter across from Allen. Floyd is 33 years-old and never more than an average receiver.

Just when everyone had written Antonio Gates off, he too played all 16 games last year and ended 77-872-4. Light on the touchdowns but his best yardage mark in the last four years. Ladarius Green is the 6-6 speedster that fantasy fans want to see but he only has 21 career catches in three seasons and is never going to be more than a #2 tight end while Gates remains the starter. Green could take over as early as next year but Gates has no plans to vacate his spot for 2014.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Cardinals play far better at home and their rushing defense was top notch last year – and even better in Arizona. They allowed only two rushing touchdowns there and only Marshawn Lynch was able to run for more than 56 yards there. That bodes poorly for the split backfield of the Chargers and even the Cards linebackers have been great against the receiving backs like Woodhead. Patrick Peterson should match on Floyd which would entirely shut him down but they could move him around to match on Allen. And in turn, Allen could move around to get away from Peterson. Where the Chargers and every other offense last year has to compete is with the tight ends. Gates is a must start and even Green could make a showing. Allen is a must start but his fortunes all depend on how the defense reacts to him.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 7 5 16 5 3 31
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 22 1 8 32 9 14

Arizona Cardinals

1 SD —– 10 STL —–
2 @NYG —– 11 DET —–
3 SF —– 12 @SEA —–
4 BYE —– 13 @ATL —–
5 @DEN —– 14 KC —–
6 WAS —– 15 @STL —–
7 @OAK —– 16 SEA —–
8 PHI —– 17 @SF —–
9 @DAL —–  
News | Statistics | Roster
ARI vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 260,2
RB Andre Ellington
RB Chris Johnson 80 1-10
WR John Brown 2-30
WR Larry Fitzgerald 5-70,1
WR Michael Floyd 5-90,1
PK Chandler Catanzaro 2 FG 3 XP

The Cardinals defense is one of the better units in the NFL and the offense is now stepping up to the level not seen since the Kurt Warner days. This should prove to be the best offense since then with Carson Palmer entering his second season there. He may be 35 years-old but his 4274 yards last year was a career high. He threw 24 touchdowns as well and now is ready for a big year with an impressive set of receivers.

Larry Fitzgerald is 31 and not quite as physically gifted as he once was but he still scored ten times last year with Palmer there. He only managed a 11.6 YPC on his 82 catches (954 yards) but it was a significant improvement over 2012. He is joined by third-year receiver Michael Floyd who still has all his physical skills and already posted 66-1054-5 last year. Floyd has been hampered by a groin injury in the offseason but is expected to be fine this week. While he was healing, it allowed other receivers more time and their 3.27 pick of John Brown seems to have hit pay dirt. The slot-sized wideout has been impressive and already earned the #3 role vacated when Andre Roberts left.

This group of three wideouts will do some damage this year and Palmer is good enough to make it happen. The Cards still never feature a tight end much and Rob Housler remains stuck around 450 yards per season with just one career touchdown in three years.

Andre Ellington is only 5-9, 200 lbs. but has earned the starting running back spot and HC Bruce Arians says he has no problem giving him a big workload this year. Ellington ran well last year with a 5.5 YPC but only had 118 carries. He’s never carried more than 15 times in a game and only twice had more than 11 runs in a week. How he holds up will be critical to the success and balance of the offense. Jonathan Dwyer provides relief and short yardage work but the team is relying heavily on Ellington. Playing with a good passing offense helps spread the defense out and gets Ellington nice lanes to run through.

This can be a formidable offense and they need to make it big this year since both Palmer and Fitzgerald are on the backside of their careers.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Chargers defense is only average at best and on the road are nothing to fear. First game out feel comfortable starting Palmer, Ellington, Fitzgerald and even Floyd. This game will help determine if Ellington can handle the big workload and the Bolts are a fair test as a middle-of-the-road rushing defense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 22 16 8 24 12 5
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 19 13 25 10 8 9

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