Thursday NFL Preseason: Green Bay Packers at San Diego Chargers

By Jim Donahue

It’s a potential Super Bowl preview on Thursday night in an ESPN nationally televised game as Green Bay and San Diego open their 2012 preseason schedules against one another in San Diego. The Bolts are 2.5-point favorites.

There will be history made at this game as the first female official in NFL history will work the game. Shannon Eastin will be the line judge for the game; she is part of a group of replacement officials hired by the NFL to replace members of the NFL Referees Association, which is being locked out by the league.

Eastin is entering her 17th season as an official. For the last four years, she has called games in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which is in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision. The NBA has broken the gender barrier, but this is a first for the NFL.

Green Bay was 3-1 last preseason on the way to starting the regular season 14-0. The Pack were upset in Kansas City in Week 15 and would finish with the NFL’s best record at 15-1. But they were stunned in the divisional round by the New York Giants, who would go on to win the Super Bowl.

The Chargers finished last season 8-8 to miss the playoffs for the second straight year. That has put coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith squarely on the hot seat. This could also be the final season that the Chargers play in San Diego amid rumors the team could move to Los Angeles with no new stadium deal in the works in San Diego.

Green Bay and San Diego played Week 9 of last season in San Diego. The Packers won 45-38. Aaron Rodgers was nearly perfect, going 21-for-26 with four touchdowns and no picks. San Diego’s Philip Rivers threw for 385 yards but also had three interceptions. San Diego outgained Green Bay by nearly 100 yards but those Rivers picks were a killer.

Thursday’s contest marks the first time since 2005 that the Packers have opened the preseason on a Thursday night. Ironically, that ’05 meeting also came against the Chargers, at Lambeau Field. Thursday marks only the fourth preseason meeting between the teams and the second in San Diego. The all-time series is knotted at 1-1-1.

This week’s matchup features two of the most productive offenses in the league. Over the past three seasons, Green Bay ranks No. 3 in scoring (29.4 ppg) and No. 5 in yards per game (380.8) while San Diego checks in at No. 4 in scoring (27.1 ppg) and No. 3 in yards per game (382.9).

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