Chargers vs Cardinals Game Preview
The Chargers and Cardinals meet for the first time since the former moved to Los Angeles. Despite the change in address, this remains a riveting inter-conference rivalry between West coast teams.
Los Angeles just barely missed the playoffs last season. They moved cities but the bad juju has apparently followed them. Arizona finished 8-8 and failed to make the playoffs for a second straight year but was able to draft their quarterback of the future in Josh Rosen.
Los Angeles Chargers
Whether they’re in San Diego or Los Angeles, injuries have constantly derailed the Chargers. Amidst it all, they still finished just one win or tiebreak from the postseason. Quarterback Philip River is 36 but is still playing elite football. So long as he’s slinging the rock, the Chargers can’t be counted out.
The Chargers added veterans to the offence through free agency but used the NFL Draft to add promising pieces. Los Angeles is both capable of winning now and building nicely towards the future.
They were only starting to regain relevance and it was all over. The Cardinals are back to mediocrity following back-to-back playoff runs but at least they have not one but two new quarterbacks to sire the new era.
Arizona signed former first-overall pick Sam Bradford then traded up to draft UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. It’s unclear who is going to be starting
Narratives aside, the Vikings are justified favourites here. They have depth issues in several key positions on both offence and defence but that’s nothing compared to the holes the Broncos have. They should roll.
Chargers vs Cardinals Head-to-Head Records
Los Angeles will look to continue the trend of owning the Cardinals. Through 13 meetings, the Chargers are 9-4 and have won three of the last four games. The Cardinals won the last game by a hair edging the Chargers 18-17. It was a fourth-quarter comeback from Arizona and San Diego couldn’t recover.
With the exception of a 41-10 blowout in 2010, the games between these teams have been decided by no more than a touchdown in the last eight meetings. Half of the games were by three points or less. This comes in light of how disparate both franchises have been overall.
Outside of the late 90s, the Chargers have been a winning franchise. They were a Super Bowl team in the early 90s and were a perennial contender in the mid-2000s. The Cardinals have generally been a losing franchise and outside flirting with a Super Bowl that one year with Kurt Warner, they haven’t done much.
In recent years, the Cardinals have improved. Under Bruce Arians they became relevant again while the Chargers have struggled with injuries. Any future meetings between the two will be unpredictable but expect the games to remain close.
Los Angeles Chargers Recent History
The Chargers will look back to San Diego with some fond memories albeit shrouded by plenty of “what-ifs”. Their best years came in the LaDainian Tomlinson era. The superstar running back won the MVP in 2006 as the Chargers won a franchise-best 14 games. But they quickly lost in the playoffs, a trend that would continue to haunt them.
Despite switching coaches from Marty Schottenheimer to Norv Turner, the Chargers would again follow the trend. They would dominate the regular season but fall short in the postseason. Following Tomlinson’s exit, the Chargers struggled. They haven’t won double-digit games since 2009 and have only been to the playoffs once.
Rivers saw a career resurgence in 2013 giving the organization plenty of hope that they still have one run left. But it needs to come soon.
Arizona Cardinals Recent History
Since relocating to Arizona in 1994, the Cardinals have only made a grand total of five playoff appearances. They peaked in 2008 when Warner led them to their first Super Bowl albeit in a losing effort to Pittsburgh. They haven’t been able to replicate this season despite having better teams in subsequent years.
Following Warner’s retirement, the Cardinals became a losing franchise yet again but it didn’t last too long as Arians turned the team around almost overnight. Under the new coach, the Cardinals won 10 or more games in three consecutive seasons including a franchise-record 13 wins in 2015.
Arians retired and in his place is Steve Wilks, another defensive-minded coach. He’ll lead a team that still has one of the NFL’s most capable defences and some star power. But they issues at both quarterback and overall depth that may ultimately keep them from contending.
Los Angeles Chargers Outlook
The Chargers will either become great soon and the city of Los Angeles will embrace them or they will remain a seven to nine-win team and have to relocate. Again. It’s embarrassing seeing the Chargers play in a sparsely-populated StubHub Center surrounded mostly by the opposing team’s fans. So much for home turf.
They have plenty of young talent across the board. From Joey Bosa (DE) to Melvin Gordon (RB), the Chargers are in capable hands. But they need to stay healthy. Given the state of the NFL, it’s not crazy to think Rivers has at least four good years left in him.
Injuries always seem to derail the Chargers. They’ve already lost tight end Hunter Henry and it’s only the offseason. If this continues to be the case, Los Angeles will have to settle for third in the potent AFC West. But if this team ever gets healthy, they are a dark horse to make the Super Bowl.
Arizona Cardinals Outlook
The Cardinals have some great players but are surrounded by mostly average or subpar ones. On offence, they have David Johnson, arguably the best running back in the league right now and Larry Fitzgerald, the elder statesman who is still outproducing some of the game’s younger talent.
On defence, they have guys like Patrick Peterson (CB) and Chandler Jones (DE), tow dynamic defenders who can change the outcome of a game almost single-handedly. But beyond all these guys are shaky platoons of inconsistent veterans or young inexperienced players.
Arizona’s new coach is also unproven and they have plenty of depth issues. But most importantly, they have two quarterbacks who could be great but are more likely to get hurt. Bradford is made of glass and Rosen has an extensive injury history in college. There’s a lot to like about the Cardinals but there’s more to be afraid of.
Geno Smith of the Chargers should be going up against Mike Glennon of the Cardinals. Smith has bounced around the New York teams but is still relatively young enough for teams like Los Angeles to take a flyer on him. He might have matured a bit more now and could be an invaluable backup for LA.
Glennon might be the best third-string quarterback in the league. At one point, he was a starter and has shown enough flashes. He will be the better quarterback here although he will be behind a makeshift offensive line and will be going up against one of the best passing defences in the league.
The Chargers’ superior depth on defence makes them the favourites here. Smith isn’t the most reliable passer either but the Cardinals lack a decent secondary or defensive line behind their starters.
Los Angeles should control this game. Both their defensive line and secondary will keep Glennon frustrated while they get to show off their new running back, Justin Jackson to seal the game.