What to expect: Chargers' Week 7 preview and predictions

The San Diego Chargers travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons. Here is my preview and predictions.

Recap: Huge win on Thursday Night Football for the Chargers. If you read my what to expect from Week 6, you know that I picked the Chargers to win this game. I basically said that our offense could score on the Broncos and put pressure on the rookie QB. The Chargers’ defense was lights out, and by lights out I mean two first downs allowed in the whole first half. Many players along with coach Mike McCoy would also mention the crowd noise as a factor on Thursday. As someone in attendance, I agree, we were loud! (Qualcomm had plenty and plenty of Broncos’ fans as well though).

This win would snap a 10-game losing streak against divisional opponents and ultimately save McCoy’s job for the rest of the year. Overall, it was a huge win that gives this team the winning mentality to possibly go steal a win this weekend in Atlanta.

Let’s discuss what I think the major factors to get us a win in Atlanta are:

Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

First major factor: CONTAIN JULIO JONES!  Julio Jones should be public enemy number one for the Chargers this weekend. I believe this is going to be the hardest thing for the Chargers to defensively, because it’s just a matchup problem. Jones is a big, strong and lighting fast WR. No matter who you put on him, he will have the advantage. He stands around 6-3 and runs a 4.40. Most likely Casey Hayward will draw the assignment, who is only 5-11. The Chargers will need help over the top all game long. Keep Jones from making the big plays, limit him to underneath routes, and most importantly, don’t miss tackles on this guy. If you do, he’s gone.

Second major factor: Limit the RB duo of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman.  A big reason for the success of the No. 1-ranked Atlanta offense is the RB duo. Freeman and Coleman together are a good compliment to each other. Freeman, who is very shifty, can really catch the ball out of the backfield well. Change-of-pace back Coleman’s tools are almost the same as Freeman. He’s a bigger RB who can run through a defender, and he can actually catch the ball better than Freeman. The Chargers get exposed by good receiving backs because our linebackers aren’t good when dropping into coverage. I am sure the Falcons are very closely watching the tape from the Chiefs game.

Oct 2, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) scores a rushing touchdown against Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Shaq Green-Thompson (54) in the first quarter of their game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 2, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) scores a rushing touchdown against Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Shaq Green-Thompson (54) in the first quarter of their game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Third major factor: Protect Philip Rivers. The Falcons’ pass rush isn’t good, but that doesn’t mean protection should be over looked. I am very excited to see Rivers play in a dome this weekend. Give him the time to light it up, and we can expect good things offensively.

My Prediction: Channeling my inner Mike McCoy here, but the winner of this game will be the team that executes their game plan best. Pretty broad statement, I know, but executing the game plan is key this week. The Chargers need to pressure Matt Ryan, contain Julio Jones, and our linebackers need to perform well in coverage. The lack of detail in any of those will be a game in the loss column for the Chargers. As big of a factor Jones is week in and week out, I think the biggest matchup is our linebackers in coverage versus Atlanta’s running backs.

Football is a game of matchups, and I think Atlanta is going to try to focus on exposing the best ones. I think this game is going to be a shootout. The defenses will do their best, but I think it will be Matt Ryan vs. Philip Rivers. Who’s going to lead their offense to victory? I have to take Rivers and the Chargers. I think the monkey is off their back after last week’s win and they will ride the momentum into Sunday’s game.

FINAL SCORE: Chargers – 34, Falcons – 30 

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