What happens when two teams meet on a short week after both played games on the previous Monday night where they both blew big leads? We'll find out this Sunday, when the Philadelphia Eagles host the San Diego Chargers.
It's unusual for two teams to meet on the Sunday after both played the previous Monday night, but with the double header on opening weekend, that's exactly what we have here. And while the Eagles didn't lose all of their big lead in defeating the Washington Redskins 33-27, the Chargers did manage to blow their entire 21 point lead in losing to the Houston Texans 31-28. So what does that mean? It means that neither of these teams have a good defense. It also means the offenses of both teams didn't play well in the second half either.
- LeSean McCoy leads the NFL in rushing with 184 yards.
- The Eagles ran the ball 49 times in Week 1, including 30 times in the first half.
- DeSean Jackson had 104 yards receiving and aTD last week.
Eagles Offense versus Chargers Defense
The Monday Night Football crew was loving Chip Kelly's fast paced offense in the first half more than a fat kid loves cake. Then, either Kelly decided to try to grind out the clock with the running game or the Redskins defense figure some things out. The one thing they didn't figure out was LeSean McCoy, who had 184 yards rushing. He may just lead the NFL in rushing this season if he can stay healthy. The Eagles had 49 rushing attempts last week and that wasn't only due to their big lead. They rushed the ball 30 times in the first half while building their lead. The Chargers should expect another healthy dose of the run, because that's what Chip Kelly likes to do. And with a special talent like McCoy, any coach would be crazy not to run the ball constantly.
San Diego's leading tacklers last week were inside linebackers, Bront Bird and Donald Butler. The fact that the majority of NFL fans have never heard of these guys before tells you that the Chargers defense isn't that good. Sure you've heard of Manti Te'o, but the real star of this defense is OLB Dwight Freeney.
The Eagles offensive line played a great game last week in paving the way for the most rushing yardage in the entire NFL and giving Michael Vick more time in the pocket than any other quarterback. It will be up to tackles Jason Peters and rookie Lane Johnson to keep Freeney out of Vick's face. Actually, if the Chargers play as much nickel on defense as the Redskins did last week, the Eagles will likely just neutralize any San Diego pass rush but running the ball all game again.
When Vick does throw the ball, he will need to throw the ball forward every time this game and avoid the turnovers that have plagued his career. DeSean Jackson was outstanding last week with 104 yards receiving and a TD, but the Chargers are sure to focus on him since no other Eagles receiver beside TE Brent Celek did anything. The problem for San Diego is that their pass defense is terrible. Assuming the Charges try to load up the box to stop the Eagles running game, Vick will have a chance to air it out this week against a weak secondary.
Will the Eagles Defense be able to Stop Philip Rivers?
Chargers Offense versus Eagles Defense
The Chargers are led by QB Philip Rivers, who is getting a reputation as a guy who folds under pressure. Sure Rivers threw four TDs last week, but he also couldn't close out the win. The Chargers final five drives last week consisted of four three-and-outs and a pick six. That isn't all Rivers' fault, but he doesn't seem like a QB who can carry his team to a victory.
Of course, Rivers doesn't get any help from his leaky offensive line. He was sacked 49 times last year and now he has a rookie right tackle, D.J. Fluker, and LT King Dunlap protecting his blind side. Yes, that King Dunlap. Eagles OLB Trent Cole must be drooling thinking about how he's going to abuse Dunlap. Mychal Kendricks and Conner Barwin are also sure to spend a lot of time in the Chargers' backfield on Sunday.
In order to keep the pressure off Rivers, the Chargers may try to hand the ball to Ryan Matthews. Unfortunately, Matthews isn't that good. He only had 33 yards on 13 carries last week, but at least he seemed to have solve the fumbling problem he had earlier in his career. The Eagles shut down a much better running back last week in Alfred Morris and the Washington offensive line is far superior to this San Diego unit. They should be able to stop Matthews.
Of course, that will force Rivers to the air constantly and that isn't good news for the Eagles. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher has been ruled out with a concussion, which means that Brandon Boykin will be thrust into a starting role. Boykin had an interception last week and has turned into a good slot corner in the nickel, but at only 5-foot-9, he presents a liability on the outside. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis may choose to have Cary Williams cover the 6-foot-5 Malcolm Floyd all over the field or he may just move Boykin back inside and use Brandon Huges or Jordan Poyer on the outside. None of those options are appealing when you consider that Nate Allen and Patrick Chung are the starting safeties. They were all exposed in the second half last week. And the Eagles also have to contend with TE Antonio Gates. Gates isn't going to win any foot races at this stage of his career, but he knows how to get open.
The Eagles special teams looked great last week. All of the coverage units played well and Kelly looks like he won't hesitate to put DeSean Jackson back there to field a punt. With Demaris Johnson returning kickoffs, the Eagles have a chance to break one for a touchdown at any time. The Chargers have the dangerous Eddie Royal returning kicks and punts, so the Eagles coverage units need to be on their game.
DeSean Jackson's Punt Return TD Against Giants
Chip Kelly isn't the only rookie coach in this game, he's just the one getting all the publicity. Former Eagles quarterback coach, Mike McCoy leads the Chargers. McCoy has more NFL experience, but the short week gives the Chargers even less time to figure out how to slow down the frenetic pace of Kelly's offense.
With both teams coming off the short week, there is no advantage there. The one advantage that the Eagles have is that the Chargers are flying across the country for a 1 pm game on a short week. That point can't be underestimated.
The Eagles looked great in the first half and terrible in the second half against the Redskins. Rivers won't be as rusty as RG3 was last week, so if the Eagles aren't careful, their defense could get torched. Of course, I think that the Chargers defense will be every bit as bad as the Eagles defense, if not worse. The Chargers can't run the football and don't finish well. Simply put, they just aren't a very good football team.
Eagles 38 - Chargers 34