NFL Preseason-Week 1
Packers and Chargers kick-off the preseason this Thursday night on ESPN
Green Bay opens the 2012 NFL preseason this Thursday night as most sportsbooks odds-on-favorite to win this year’s Super Bowl. It is coming off a 15-1 straight-up record in the regular season, but a disappointing 37-20 loss to New York as a 5.5-point home favorite in the Divisional Playoffs.
While the Packers will look to get off to a fast start to help erase the bitter memory of that loss, they are more concerned with team health in these preseason games than anything else. They already know what Aaron Rodgers can do, so his playing time should be limited to one or two series at the most. The key for Green Bay in this game is to return form this West Coast trip with nobody getting added to the injury report. Winning is purely secondary at this point of the year.
San Diego may approach this game with a bit of a different mindset after missing the playoffs the last two seasons with a SU record of 9-7 in 2010 and an 8-8 record last season. For a team that had been a perennial playoff contender, it is now focused on getting off to a solid start behind veteran signal-caller Philip Rivers. The problem is that many of the other pieces of the roster that helped the Chargers dominate the AFC West before the 2010 season are now gone and they are now actually in a bit of a rebuilding mode heading into this year.
Head coach Norv Turner used this year’s draft to concentrate on the defensive side of the ball by taking defensive end Melvin Ingram in the first round and defensive tackle Kendall Reyes in the second. The Chargers are also hoping that tight end Antonio Gates can return to form after a few down seasons and that running back Ryan Matthews can continue to take the pressure of the passing game. While the starters may only see one quarter of action on Thursday night, look for them to play with the intensity of a team that knows it has underperformed the past two seasons.
Stick with San Diego at home in this one as its needs a win far more than the Packers do. Charlie Whitehurst could be a player to watch as San Diego’s back-up quarterback as he knows this is the time of the year where he has the best chance to make an impression on the rest of the league in a primetime game such as this. San Diego 23 Green Bay 20