Game Preview: Philadelphia Eagles at San Diego Chargers

Is anyone else worried that this might be a let-down game?  The Chargers are coming off a huge victory against the Giants in New York and are returning home to play an Eagles team that's on the verge of turmoil (aren't they always?) after losing to the Dallas Cowboys.  The Bolts have the momentum and many people are picking them to win.  Here are the two things that are worrying me about this game:

  1. Everyone knows how big the Broncos game is.  If the Chargers are going to make a run at the division championship, they need to win that game.  It's been a focus of the fans all week and the Eagles have almost become an afterthought.  Let us hope Norv has been able to keep this team focused on this week.
  2. Although the team has been improved since the bye week, the only team they've soundly defeated during that stretch is the Chiefs.  The Chargers were pushed around again by the Raiders and needed a last-minute drive to beat the struggling Giants.  The main reason for these close wins is the offense going silent for long periods of time in the second half.  My thinking is, if the offense can die for an entire quarter it can stay silent much longer.

Doing each one of these game previews, I usually bring everything back to the "worst case scenario".  This is really how I think about everything in the future.  Usually the worst case scenario for the Chargers is a shootout, which they can usually win based off of the strength of their offense.  However, I don't know that the Chargers could beat the Eagles in a shootout.

I don't know, I have a lot of doubts about this game.  I know we have momentum and good feelings, but that doesn't win football games.  Let's break down the stats and see what they tell us.

When the Eagles Have the Ball

Philadelphia-eagles-logo_medium

 

Off. Yds/Game: 15th

Off. Pts/Game: 4th

3rd Down %: 22nd

Time of Possession: 26th

Pass Yds/Game: 15th

40+ Yd Pass Plays: 10 (1st)

Rush Yds/Game: 17th

Rush Yds/Att: 4.7 (5th)

 

All of these stats add up to something very simple: Stop DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.  Obviously the Eagles struggle to put together long drives and score mostly on big plays.  Luckily for Chargers fans, stopping the big plays has been a specialty of the defense (and especially the secondary) this season.  Stopping 3rd down conversions is another story...

Chargershelmet_medium

via twiggs.org

 

Def. Yds/Game: 11th

Def. Pts/Game: 20th

3rd Down %: 28th

Pass Yds/Game: 5th

40+ Yd Pass Plays: 2 (5th)

Rush Yds/Game: 26th

Rush Yds/Att: 4.2 (13th)

 

Advantage: Tie.  Coming from somebody who lives in Philly and has watched a fair share of Philly games, there's no way of predicting what will happen.  There's a 50% chance that Donovan McNabb is incredibly accurate and Brian Westbrook is unstoppable.  There's also a 50% chance that McNabb can't complete a pass and Westbrook can't get any significant yards (yes, even against the Chargers "warm butter" run defense). 

Luckily for the Chargers, and for us fans, this is a strength vs. strength matchup.  The Eagles offense will test the Bolts' secondary, which has been good all year and is getting better with addition of a real pass rush.  That gives me more hope than if San Diego were facing a team that relies heavily on a power running attack.

 

When the Chargers Have the Ball

Rivers_wk16_medium

 

Off. Yds/Game: 17th

Off. Pts/Game: 9th

3rd Down %: 12th

Time of Possession: 28th

Pass Yds/Game: 7th

40+ Yd Pass Plays: 8 (5th)

Rush Yds/Game: 32nd

Rush Yds/Att: 32nd

 

It's kindof amazing that the Chargers are 5-3 and surging with the league's worst running game.

Philadelphia-eagles-football-logo_medium

via www.eagles-football-fansite.info

 

Def. Yds/Game: 10th

Def. Pts/Game: 8th

3rd Down %: 6th

Pass Yds/Game: 11th

40+ Yd Pass Plays: 3 (9th)

Rush Yds/Game: 10th

Rush Yds/Att: 3.6 (4th)

 

Advantage: Eagles.  While the Eagles defense isn't bad, they're ranked about as well as the Giants defense, they lost their nickel and dime cornerbacks during this week.  That is a weakness that can be exploited with Legedu Naanee and maybe even Kassim Osgood.  That can be paired with the height disadvantage (all of the Philly CBs are 5'10") for some opening in the passing game.  One thing is for sure, Philip Rivers will not hesitate to throw to his tall WRs downfield if they're covered one-on-one.

The key to this game is Nick Hardwick.  Rivers won't survive against the Eagles' complicated blitzes without somebody on the line that can figure out where the blitz is coming from.  If Hardwick plays, there's a much better chance of keeping the QB upright and throwing downfield.

 

Fancy Stats (DVOA Rankings)

P1_rivers_medium

via www.bostonherald.com


San Diego Chargers

Offense: 16th

Pass Offense: 9th

Rush Offense: 30th

Defense: 23rd

Pass Defense: 14th

Rush Defense: 27th

 

Philadelphia Eagles

Offense: 12th

Pass Offense: 15th

Rush Offense: 9th

Defense: 1st

Pass Defense: 1st

Rush Defense: 12th

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