The goals for both team are very different heading into the first game of the 2013 NFL season; the San Diego Chargers want to find themselves in the playoffs again, while the Houston Texans are thinking way beyond that, picturing themselves making it to the Super Bowl.
It’s been three consecutive years of failure on a talented Chargers team, which cost Norv Turner and others their job Philip Rivers has a new offensive system to get used to, but most importantly playing behind an upgraded offensive line.
He was sacked on 8.4% of his dropbacks last season, the worst protection record in the NFL, and a lot worse than his record of staying upright from the 2008 to the 2011 season. There’s also hope that Rivers, playing in a quicker offensive system, will enjoy the arrival of Danny Woodhead from the New England Patriots, while hoping that Malcolm Floyd and Eddie Royal step up and present themselves as reliable targets after the season-ending injury to Danario Alexander.
Manti Te’o should have been making his debut, but he’s out of the season opener, with the Chargers hoping that their perfect record against the Texans (4-0) stays intact even though they’re the underdogs going into the game.
For the Texans, their main offensive weapon, Arian Foster, will probably see a decreased workload after an offseason and preseason filled with injury problems. This will mean Ben Tate, who has shown he’s perfectly capable of being something close to a feature back, will get more touches early on. It also means we’ll get to see if the Texans finally have a reliable #2 wide receiver next to Andre Johnson.
The defense, especially in the secondary and overall against the pass was an issue last year. The return of Brian Cushing from injury should be a major help, while Ed Reed and rookie D.J. Swearinger should help make it harder for teams to torch them through passing. J.J. Watt, following a 20.5 sack-season is expected to be just as big of a threat in 2013 as well.
Prediction – The Chargers need to prove their offensive line has improved from last season. Without that, a newly focused Philip Rivers and a questionable ground game isn’t going to help. Meanwhile, the Texans should look better on defense, and have enough of ground game even without Foster to win against San Diego for the first time.