The Arizona Cardinals (2-1), who are playing their third road game in four weeks, are making the relatively short trip to the coast to the play the San Diego Chargers (1-2).
The only problem is that the Cardinals will not be traveling with much of a receiving core. Both Steve Breaston and Early Doucet will be missing at least this game, with a knee injury and a sports hernia, respectively. Larry Fitzgerald will be anchoring a group of three rookies, two of which went undrafted. The wideout projected to start opposite of Fitzgerald is 6’5, training camp stud Stephen Williams. Backing him up will be Wes Welker’s clone Max Komar and third-round pick Andre Roberts. All three of these receivers have yet to make of a positive impact in any of the first three games.
And if that wasn’t enough adversity, Derek Anderson will still be the teams starting quarterback. Anderson ranks 22nd or lower in the NFL in passer rating (67.6), passing yards (580) and completion percentage (52.0%). But as bad as it may have seemed, he still only has three interceptions and the team remains in first place in the abysmal NFC West.
Philip Rivers, on the other hand, has been one of the league’s best quarterbacks this season. Rivers is currently leading the league in passing yards (1087) and third in the league in touchdowns (7).
But what Rivers can’t do is guard on special teams. In their two losses, the Chargers have allowed a 94-yard punt return, a 101-yard kick return and a 99-yard kick return. And in the Cardinals last 11 games, Louis Stephens-Howling has taken two kickoffs back for scores, including his 102-yard opening kick-off return last week against the Oakland Raiders.
San Diego’s Ryan Matthews and Arizona’s Beanie Wells are each expected to play in Sunday’s game after being hampered by injuries early in the season.
As much as I would love to take the Cardinals again this week, the receiving core is just going to be too much of a loss. Derek Anderson needs all the help he can get and without having his favorite target, Breaston, he will struggle even more. The only hope the Cards have is if the defense or special teams score and Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower play out of their minds and don’t fumble. But I don’t see all those dominos falling in favor of Arizona.
San Diego 28, Arizona 17
RB Chris Wells (Knee) – Questionable
WR Steve Breaston (Knee) – Out
WR Early Doucet (Groin) – Questionable
G Alan Faneca (Back) – Probable
LB Paris Lenon (Pelvis) – Questionable
San Diego Chargers
RB Ryan Mathews (Ankle) – Probable
G Kris Dielman (Illness) – Questionable
G Louis Vasquez (Knee) – Out
LB Shawne Merriman (Calf) – Questionable
LB Brandon Siler (Foot) – Questionable
LB Stephen Cooper (Knee) – Probable
LB Larry English (Foot) – Out
S Darrell Stuckey (Hamstring) – Questionable
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Written by Zack Jones