PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the fourth of five key matchups in the Packers' Week Eight game this Sunday against the Chargers in San Diego.
Packers wide receivers vs. Chargers secondary
A high-scoring game could be in the cards Sunday with the Chargers' secondary having its share of struggles this season, similar to the Packers. San Diego's defense had been deficient across the board when it comes to forcing turnovers (only seven takeaways in the first six games) before registering four takeaways in the loss to Kansas City Monday night (a pair of interceptions by Pro Bowl FS Eric Weddle, and one fumble recovery apiece for CBs Quentin Jammer and Dante Hughes). But against a quarterback in Aaron Rodgers who has thrown only three interceptions all season, interceptions could be hard to come by Sunday for the Chargers DBs, who will have their hands full defending a well-rounded Green Bay WR corps with four of the top five receivers (Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and rookie Randall Cobb), gaining at least 16.1 yards per catch.
Nelson has gotten the most bang out of his receptions, gaining a team-leading 19.4 yards per catch with four TDs, while Jennings, who remains Rodgers' primary target, is on pace to match or break his career highs in receptions (80 in 2008) and yards (1,292 in '08). Veteran Donald Driver is averaging only 8.2 yards on 13 catches, but he remains a legitimate threat after getting some badly needed rest during the bye week.
Weddle, who was signed to huge new deal this offseason, is the best player in the San Diego secondary. He is an athletic, instinctive, physical ballhawk with 4.49 speed. Jammer is slowing down a bit at the age of 32, but he's a proven, physical bump-and-run specialist who can still run. After getting burned by Jets WR Plaxico Burress for three TDs, former No,. 1 pick Antoine Cason was replaced last Monday night on the right corner by second-round draft pick Marcus Gilchrist, who got outjumped for a TD by Jonathan Baldwin in the loss to K.C. At strong safety, six-year veteran Steve Gregory has replaced the brittle Bob Sanders, who is out with another season-ending injury. Gregory is tough and alert but lacks range.