The Los Angeles Chargers are set to wrap-up their three game home stand on Sunday when they welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to StubHub Center. The Chargers, currently winless at 0-3, are looking to shake off the sting of some tough luck and some sub par play, in this contest. Meanwhile, the Eagles are fresh off a divisional victory against the New York Giants, and carry a record of 2-1.
This has the makings of an exciting sleeper game. Here are a few things to keep a sharp eye on in today’s contest.
For the Chargers…
Quite simply, the Bolts need to stop the run, if they want to have any chance of being successful in this game. They cannot let the Eagles run wild on Sunday. While it sounds fairly elementary, this Los Angeles defense has been poor against the run this year. The Chargers have given up a staggering 146.7 rushing yards per game, over the first three weeks of the season. That said, it’s not a surprise they’re losing football games in heartbreaking fashion. The Bolts simply haven’t been able to get off the field. If that doesn’t change against Philly, they are likely to drop to 0-4.
On the offensive side of the ball, the run is just as important. The most successful path to the Chargers winning their first game of 2017 is by staying committed to running the football as an integral part of their offensive game plan. Melvin Gordon may be on and off the field due to injuries, for Sunday and beyond. That said, Los Angeles isn’t built to abort every plan to run the football and have Philip Rivers throw 40 passes per game. Needless to say, that simply doesn’t work for this team. The Bolts would be wise to , feed running backs Gordon, Branden Oliver and Austin Ekeler. This could open up the passing game and make life a bit easier for Rivers. If this happens, the Chargers might just be poised to break out a win.
For the Eagles…
The Eagles first-place status in the NFC East is more of a reflection of their offense, rather than their defense. Philadelphia statically has one of the statistically worst defensive secondaries in all of football. Needless to say, that doesn’t bode well for a road game against a wideout group as talented as the Chargers’. The Eagles secondary is weak against the big play. With receivers like Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates healthy for the game this weekend, the Eagles must not give up big-plays if they want to be victorious. The Eagles must put pressure on Rivers and force him from the pocket. The front seven is the strength of the Philly defense and that must remain the case on Sunday if they wish to come away with the victory.
That’s being said, the Eagles defense has been quite efficient at forcing turnovers. For as many passing yards the Eagles have given up each weekend, they’ve made up for it in taking away the football. Philly is currently fifth in the NFL in total takeaways, forcing three interceptions and three lost fumbles. Needless to say, they have an opportunity to add to that total against Philip Rivers on Sunday afternoon, if his sub-par play in last week’s game versus the Chiefs continues to this game.
Despite their 0-3 record, the Chargers have a great shot of getting their first win of 2017 against the Eagles this weekend. The tests against Denver, Miami and Kansas City should prove to be the biggest difference in this football game for Los Angeles.
After only averaging 16 points per game through the first three weeks of the season, the Bolts will look to establish a running attack early. That should open up the passing game for Rivers, who should bounce back from last Sunday’s debacle against Kansas City.
Prediction: Chargers 31, Eagles 24
-Mike D’Abate is the Managing Editor for cover32.com/Chargers and covers the Los Angeles Chargers. He is also a National Content Writer for cover32.com and covers the NFL.
Bradford ruled out for third straight week