Here’s our first look at Sunday’s game against the Chargers and Philip Rivers (above in an AP photo):
Seahawks opponent: San Diego
Game time: 1:05 p.m., Qualcomm Stadium.
Coach: Mike McCoy (9-8 in second year with Chargers)
2013 Record: 9-7
Last game: Lost 18-17 at Arizona on Monday night.
The series: The Seahawks lead it 26-23. The Chargers are the only team from the AFC West — of which Seattle was a member from 1977-2001 — against whom the Seahawks have a winning record. The Seahawks won the last meeting 27-20 on Sept. 26, 2010 in Seattle.
The early line: Seahawks by 5.5
Key players: QB Philip Rivers: Rivers had one of the best seasons of his career in 2013 under the stewardship of new coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, completing an NFL-high 69.5 percent of his passes. But Wisenhunt is now gone, replaced by Frank Reich, and Rivers was not as precise in the Chargers’ opener at Arizona, completing 21-36 passes for 238 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
LB Donald Butler: The Chargers are expecting big things from the former Husky, signing him to a deal that could pay him $51.8 million over seven years, and which included an $11.15 million signing bonus. Butler had two tackles and a fumble recovery against the Cardinals.
DE Dwight Freeney: The 34-year-old is healthy again after playing just four games in 2013 with a torn quad, and he looked to still have some juice left against the Cardinals with Pro Football Focus crediting him with five quarterback pressure in 34 rushes.
San Diego’s keys to success: The Chargers are hoping to build off a season in which they went 9-7 and then beat the Bengals in the playoffs before losing to Denver. San Diego’s offensive-strength is a ball-control passing game led by QB Philip Rivers. San Diego last year led the NFL with 39 drives of 10 plays or more. The Chargers, though, were not real efficient on Monday night in an 18-17 loss to Arizona, with only three drives lasting longer than six plays, and none lasting as long as 10. Rivers likes to spread the ball around — five receivers had 41 or more catches last season and three had more than 71, including seemingly ageless tight end Antonio Gates. Now 34, he had six receptions for 81 yards to lead the Chargers Monday night. Defensively, San Diego’s base is a 3-4 that last year was okay against the run (12th in the NFL) but terrible against the pass, ranking 29th overall and allowing an NFL-high 9.1 yards per reception. That failing ultimately caught up to San Diego against the Cardinals as Carson Palmer was 24-37 for 304 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. San Diego used its top two picks to try to shore up the defense — cornerback Jason Verrett and linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu — and each showed promising signs against Arizona.
BY THE NUMBERS
11 — Interceptions for Philip Rivers in 2013, down from a combined 35 the previous two years.
10-13 — Seattle’s all-time record against the Chargers in San Diego.
12 — Seasons since Seattle has last played a regular season game at San Diego, a 31-28 overtime win in 2002.