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What to watch for during Chargers-Cardinals

Week 1 is all about excess. After an offseason bereft of football, we gorge on 10 games simultaneously on Sunday. 

Here's what to watch for:

  1. Philip Rivers dramatically improved his vertical passing last season. Look for him to test the Cardinals deep Monday night, because Arizona's secondary could be vulnerable -- Antonio Cromartie is coming off a terrible season in New York and Tyrann Mathieu (knee) is inactive.
  1. The Cardinals announced that running back Andre Ellington (foot) is active. There is no one on the roster like Ellington, who is a poor man's LeSean McCoy. Look for the Cardinals to also use Jonathan Dwyer if Ellington is slowed by his foot injury.
  1. These are two trendy playoff picks for this season because of how they closed out 2013. But the Chargers have picked up momentum in the meantime, while the Cardinals have hemorrhaged talent: linebacker Karlos Dansby (free agency), defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (injury) and linebacker Daryl Washington (suspension). San Diego's roster looks deeper. Donald Brown adds a third quality runner to the backfield. Malcom Floydis healthy again and will get plenty of snaps Monday.
  1. Rivers gets to open the regular season with his favorite target. The Chargers announced that tight end Antonio Gates is active for the game. Look for Rivers to look for Gates on third down and in the red zone.
  1. Hurricane Norbert hit the greater Phoenix region early Monday morning, dropping almost three inches of rain. That's more than any other day in recorded history there. The game will be protected from the elements, but getting to the game could be tricky.
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