The Eagles face a game that should tell them a lot about who they really are. And the Sixers’ biggest challenge might not be the games themselves but having enough players to suit up at some point. With another player placed in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the Sixers tested the entire team before their game Thursday night in Detroit.

Meanwhile, the 3-5 Eagles don’t have the winless Lions to flex on this week. They’ll have to contend with Justin Herbert and the Chargers on Sunday. Which team do you like? Our writers made their predictions.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

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Early Birds

Nick Sirianni served as a Chargers assistant coach earlier in his career. He got to work with quarterback Philip Rivers and also worked with future Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. Sirianni’s time there not only influenced the makeup of his current staff in Philadelphia, but also is a possible explanation for the struggles of the Eagles offense with a mobile quarterback in Jalen Hurts.

The Chargers head into the game with Herbert leading their offense, and if he bounces back from recent subpar outings, that wouldn’t bode well for the Eagles. In fact, our three Eagles beat writers are picking the Chargers to win this one.

Herbert will go up against a defense that nearly shut out the Lions on Sunday. The Eagles appear to be collecting talent for the future as well. They waived veteran linebacker Eric Wilson to focus on younger players at the position, and also during the season have added three rookie cornerbacks to the roster. We look closely at those corners and what the Eagles see in them.

Off the Dribble

The 76ers roster was dealt yet another blow Thursday when Isaiah Joe was placed in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. While it is still remains unclear whether Joe has received a positive test, the Sixers underwent a full-scale fact-finding mission. They tested the entire team out of an abundance of caution before their 109-98 win over the Pistons in Detroit, The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey confirmed. ESPN reported it first.

Joe, a reserve guard expected to play rotation minutes, is the second player on the team to miss time because of the virus. Tobias Harris is away from the Sixers after testing positive for COVID-19. He has missed two games and could be out at least 10 days.

Next: The Sixers travel to Chicago on Saturday (8 p.m., NBCSP+) for another showdown with the Bulls after Joel Embiid’s big block to finish Wednesday’s 103-98 win at the Wells Fargo Center.

On the Fly

Even though Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was sidelined in the COVID-19 protocol, the Flyers dropped their Metropolitan Division opener to the host Penguins, 3-2, in overtime Thursday night.

Next: The Flyers are back in action Saturday night at 7 against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (NBCSP).

Fleet Street

One week from tonight, the United States men’s national team will play archrival Mexico in World Cup qualifying. The good news is that the team’s best player, Hershey’s Christian Pulisic, is back from injury and was named Thursday to Gregg Berhalter’s 25-man roster.

Pulisic is not the only player on the roster with Pennsylvania ties, as former Union stars Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie also made the cut, as did goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who hails from Downingtown.

The bad news for the USMNT, which sits second in the eight-team table, is that key players Sergiño Dest and Gio Reyna will miss the games against Mexico and Jamaica because of injuries.

Worth a look

Weekend reads

A few stories you might have missed this week:

  • Rookie progress report: See how Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith stacks up against other first-year receivers in the NFL and in team history.

  • Is an MLB work stoppage next? The World Series is over, but will opening day start on time? Check out all the issues baseball faces before settling on a new collective bargaining agreement.

  • Cancer, love, and inspiration: Rowan field hockey player Molly Gorczyca is back on the field two years after her leukemia diagnosis, and honoring a special person in her life.

  • Sprint tradition continues: Coach Jerry McConnell succeeded longtime coach Bill Wagner and is carrying on the legacy of “football for all” at Penn.