Eagles beat writers make their predictions for the Chargers game in Week 9
Will the Eagles pull off a much-needed win? Our beat writers explain why they don't think so.
The Eagles will play Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Here are the game predictions from the Eagles beat writers for Week 9.
Every game is big in the NFL — Captain Obvious alert! — but the meeting with the Chargers may tell us the most about Nick Sirianni and his team through nine games. They dismantled the Lions last week, but their opponent may have had one of the five worst performances I’ve witnessed, and the Eagles were essentially in a must-win situation. I guess the latter could be said about Sunday, but Justin Herbert and company present a greater challenge.
The second-year quarterback and the Chargers aren’t quite on the level of the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Bucs, though, even if all three have had their various struggles. Herbert is already very good and could be among the NFL’s top five throwers in a few seasons, but he’s still young. He’s going to have extended down periods, as the last few games have shown. He also has a nagging hand injury, which may have affected his performance.
Jonathan Gannon doesn’t have to overly guard against getting beat deep. Even if he wants to lean Cover 2, his cornerbacks can challenge more at the line and he can dial up a few blitzes and odd-man rushes. If he stays creative and unpredictable, his front should benefit.
The Chargers’ run defense hasn’t been particularly stout. It has allowed an NFL-worst 5.1 yards a carry. The Eagles stayed on the ground last week because it was working, but also because they had jumped out to an early lead against an impotent offense. I don’t think that will be the case a week later. Yes, they should run, and run from under center from time to time, but they shouldn’t stray from attacking Chargers linebackers through the air. Joey Bosa can be an edge-rushing handful, but a little misdirection could help lessen his impact and keep him guessing.
I think Sirianni’s group will continue to put forth the necessary effort, and I think the decreasing number of mental errors shows overall improvement. But I don’t think the Eagles have enough offensive firepower to keep pace with the Chargers or enough on defense to stifle Herbert at length. I see a well-played loss, which may not be enough to satisfy the masses.
Prediction: Chargers 31, Eagles 26
The Eagles’ going into this game 3-5 isn’t much of a surprise, although some of the final scores have been more extreme than I expected. This game will give us some context clues on whether the blowout win against Detroit was more about the lowly Lions or the possibly resurgent Eagles, but it’s hard to pencil in a win here.
There are ways it can happen. Can the worst two-game stretch of Justin Herbert’s young career turn into a three-game backslide? It’s possible. The blitzes Jonathan Gannon called against Jared Goff might not have the same results against a better quarterback, but the diversity we saw on the back end could be a difference-maker.
The Eagles secondary will have to be opportunistic if Herbert is still reeling. He threw two interceptions against the New England Patriots last weekend, both of which were a result of poorly placed passes. The Patriots capitalized on both plays, scoring a touchdown on the second pick, en route to a win.
If Herbert has snapped out of his funk by the time he touches down in Philadelphia, things could get ugly. The Chargers’ pass defense is ranked fourth in defense-adjusted value over average, and for good reason. They have plenty of talent in the secondary, and Joey Bosa anchors a strong pass rush. Yes, the Chargers rank 31st in rushing yards allowed, but head coach Brandon Staley’s scheme is partly designed for it. The first-year coach, like Gannon, dares teams to run in order to limit explosive plays and scoring drives.
If Herbert gets going, the Eagles will have to turn down Staley’s dare. The Eagles leaned heavily on the run against Detroit, but will get that luxury only if they can secure an early advantage. Even then, the defense will have to do its part containing Herbert to keep things from turning into a track meet.
It’s not impossible, it’s just not something I’d bet on.
Prediction: Chargers 31, Eagles 21
The Eagles have yet to win at home this season. A main contributor has been the tough opposition visiting Lincoln Financial Field. But there are no excuses for first-year coach Nick Sirianni, who has had his opportunities.
Sirianni finally established the run game, tallying 236 yards and four rushing touchdowns in Week 8. There’s an asterisk, though — this production came against the winless Lions. How much of that offensive success be sustained is to be determined. Another positive the Eagles can build off is their season-high 10 quarterback hits against the Lions. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon did an admirable job of pressuring the quarterback via blitzes and different coverage packages. The Chargers pose a much tougher challenge with a handful of offensive weapons at quarterback Justin Herbert’s disposal.
There’s a lot of familiarity between the two coaching staffs, which could make the game-planning interesting. Ultimately, the Chargers are much better than what their record says. The Chargers have also drafted well in recent years, and the difference in talent level between the two teams should be evident.
Prediction: Chargers 24, Eagles 20