As I looked through this season for the Bucs and Chargers, I discovered an interesting little fact:
They have both played Oakland, New Orleans, and Kansas City (the Chargers played the Chiefs twice), and both won against the Raiders and Chiefs but lost to the Saints (the Bucs missed overtime by a penalty).
San Diego and Tampa Bay also have combined for one win against an opponent with a winning record (Tampa Bay crushing Minnesota on the back of Doug Martin).
However, San Diego hasn't been the offensive powerhouse of years past. Their offense is 26th in the league in yards per game, only averaging 323.1 total yards per game. They were embarrassed by the Cleveland Browns two weeks ago, scoring six points and gaining 265 yards against a defense that allows and average of 380.1 yards and 23.4 points per game. San Diego did bounce back nicely the next week, but it was against the Chiefs, who haven't been able to stop ANYONE.
The Buccaneers allow similar stats because they are the worst team in the league against the pass, but they are the best in the league against the run (allowing only 77.3 yards per game). This means that Phillip Rivers and the no-name receiving corps for the Chargers will have to find a way to beat the Bucs, and they just don't have what it takes. The Chargers' offense will be held under double digit scoring again this week.
However, fantasy owners who have Antonio Gates and Ryan Mathews can safely start those players. Backs and tight ends are the best bet to pick apart a zone defense, even an aggressive one like Tampa Bay. Gates and Mathews should combine for 175 receiving yards as the only open options for Phillip Rivers. Just don't count on either player getting a touchdown- the holes in a zone get smaller near the goal line.
Even with Tampa's defense shutting down San Diego, it's impossible to win without putting points on the board. Tampa's offense is built around a conservative "back to basics" ground game, but it creates openings in the play action pass. We all remember the drama surrounding a certain former Charger. Vincent Jackson will torch the team that wouldn't give him the deal he wanted with 150+ receiving yards and two first half TDs of 20+ yards.
The Chargers are going to be exposed as 4-4 pretenders, and the media will be calling Tampa Bay the next potential dynasty after this week. If you live in these areas, start planning on switching to the other game in the second half, as it won't even be close. Final score: Tampa Bay 24, San Diego 7.
The owner really wanted Doug Martin in his dynasty league, but couldn't bear to part with AJ Green in a year where he was supposed to win his division when he had three potential stud running backs. He also drafted Vincent Jackson in a fair number of leagues, and expects Dallas Clark to return to form next year.
The owner can be found on Facebook (search RGDSports@yahoo.com) and Twitter (@RGDSports), and will give you a digital cookie if you can name the team on his hat in the goofiest picture ever taken.