Here are five keys to the game heading into Saturday's preseason home opener between the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks:
1. Protect the Rock – Two things in particular angered Head Coach Anthony Lynn in the preseason opener against the Cardinals. One of them was the team coughing up the ball four times. The Chargers fumbled three times and Geno Smith threw a tip-drill pick, which proved costly in a game in which L.A. dominated time of possession by over 10 minutes. The Bolts may have boasted the number three overall offense and top ranked passing attack a year ago, but that doesn't mean a thing if drives end in turnovers instead of touchdowns. They should be in for a challenge against a Seattle team whose 25 takeaways were the ninth-most in the NFL a year ago.
2. Fewer Flags – The other thing Lynn was peeved about from the preseason opener? The Bolts' sloppy play which resulted in a whopping 15 penalties. In fact, the Bolts committed the most penalties in the NFL last week. However, the Seahawks didn't exactly play clean football either, committing 12 penalties in their loss to the Colts. Regardless, Lynn wants to see cleaner football from his team as they work their way toward the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
3. Shore Up Run D – David Johnson had back-to-back runs of 14 yards to open up the game a week ago much to the Bolts' dismay. However, the run defense shored up from that point forward, giving up only 56 on the day. So, after giving up 28 yards on the first two runs, the Chargers gave up a grand total of 28 the rest of the way. Stopping the run has been a focal point the entire offseason, and now they'll turn their attention to a Seahawks team that's led by Chris Carson, who has earned rave reviews throughout training camp.
4. Let Rivers Knock off Any Rust – It'll have been exactly 229 days since Philip Rivers last played an NFL game when he steps on ROKiT Field at StubHub Center Saturday night. As always, number 17 downplayed whatever results may come, saying he won't overreact whether the outcome be positive or negative. However, the most important thing is "to get back out there and get in there and get the game juices flowing a little bit," noting it will "be good to be out there together and get in a little bit of a game flow again." After leading the NFL in passing yards in 2017, this will be an opportunity for Rivers to knock off any rust before the first regular season game on Sept. 9.
5. Third Down Dominance – The Chargers' defense forced the Cardinals into third down 11 times a week ago. They stopped Arizona from moving the chains each time. It was an impressive feat, and the first time a defense prevented a team from converting a third down in the preseason since 2016. Winning on "the money down" is a stat that can often determine the outcome of a game, so the Chargers will look to keep up their dominating ways.
Take a look at the entire Bolts roster leading into 2018 Preseason.