Expectations for the San Diego Chargers and Houston Texans are opposite. The Chargers are expected to finish 9-7 and be a sub-par team. The Texans are expected to be a top 5 AFC team and their goal is the Super Bowl. The Chargers will debut their new team at home but the Texans look to spoil it and take a win.
The most important thing in this game is for the running game to get going. Running back Ryan Matthews needs to live up to his potential and stay healthy. If Matthews stays healthy then he can take some pressure off the passing game. Matthews had a good preseason so expect him to continue into the regular season. I expect 60 yards and 1 touchdown for Matthews in this game.
The offensive line needs to stop the Texans defense. J.J. Watt is one of the best defensive players in the league and the offensive line is decent. If they can stop Watt then the running game can excel but it also means that the passing game has time to throw. It’s doubtful they can contain Watt because if they do then it opens up opportunities on the other side. I expect Watt to have 10+ tackles and 2 sacks if the offensive line cannot stop him.
Quarterback Phillip Rivers needs to find his main target on this Chargers offense. I expect him to mainly use his tight ends and running backs. Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead will be Rivers check down targets. Rivers will have Malcolm Floyd at 80% but the main guy for the Chargers will be Vincent Brown. He has high upside and if he stays healthy then he will be the guy. I expect Rivers to throw for 135 yards, 2 TD’s, and 2 INT’s. Gates will get a TD and Brown will get a TD.
The Texans offense starts with the run. Arian Foster is a top 5 back in the NFL and Ben Tate is a capable backup. I’m expecting the Texans to get 150 yards in this game running because the Chargers don’t have the guys to defend it. If players step up then it will be defensive end Cory Liuget, linebackers Jarrett Johnson and Dwight Freeney. The Chargers are going to have a rough time with the Texans running game because they are unproven against a great running game. Texans will get 2 TD’s off the running game.
The Texans passing game is going to be difficult to defend. Andre Johnson will be double covered all night, most likely by Derek Cox and Eric Weddle. When Johnson is doubled, it opens up tight end Owen Daniels and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. I think Matt Schaub throws for 125 yards, 2 TD’s, and 1 INT against the Chargers weak secondary.
The Chargers are 4-0 against the Texans so I expect the Texans to finally get their first win. The Texans will want to come in and spoil the Chargers home debut. I expect the running game to look good and the passing game to be decent on offense. The defense will have a tough time if they don’t tackle strong which opens up big plays for the Texans. My prediction is Chargers 24-Texans 34. The game can be found on ESPN at 7:30 pm PT and heard on Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 and AM 570 KLAC.