This is it.
This is the season for the Chargers. The only team that has ever started 0-4 and made the playoffs is … the 1992 San Diego Chargers, who ran off 11 wins in 12 games. That’s not going to happen in the AFC West this year.
This franchise is already irrelevant in Los Angeles. If they fall out of post-season contention before the start of Major League Baseball’s post-season then the Bolts will be ghosts in L.A.
Think of it like this in Hollywood terms: losing this game puts the Chargers in the “former D-list celebrity who has to show up on reality TV shows” category. Basically, they’ll be Screech.
Fernando Ramirez handles the three things the Chargers must do to avoid showing up on “NFL Celebrity Apprentice” while Derek Togerson looks at how a very good but banged up Eagles team can improve to 3-1.
Chargers Key #1: Expose The Eagles Depleted Secondary
The Eagles announced on Friday morning that cornerback Ronald Darby, cornerback Corey Graham and safety Jaylen Watkins are out for Sunday’s game versus the Chargers. All three are crucial towards the success of the Eagles secondary. The Chargers will need their quarterback Philip Rivers to be on top of his game after having a rough game against Kansas City last weekend and throwing three interceptions. He has the weapons to turn it around in receivers Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams and tight end Hunter Henry. Rivers will need to be on his game this week if his team has any chance of winning. Expect Rivers to air it out all game with the Eagles secondary missing key contributors.
Eagles Key #1: Keep The Turnover Train A-Rollin’
Last week Philip Rivers threw three interceptions and probably should have had a couple more picked off. The Bolts’ already ineffective running game won’t get any better with Melvin Gordon at less than 100% with a knee issue so he’ll have to throw it again a lot against Philly. The Eagles do, indeed, have a depleted secondary and that likely means Rivers will test them with at least a few deep passes and those are the ones that have been ripe for the picking. Whoever is in there on the back end for the Iggles will have to make a play. Given Rivers’ history, if he throws an interception early he has a tendency to pile them up as the game goes on.
Chargers Key #2: Get After Wentz But Stay Disciplined
The Eagles offensive line has allowed their quarterback to be sacked 11 times, which is fifth most in the NFL. Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will be sending pressure all game long especially with defensive end Melvin Ingram on fire right now with 5.5 sacks, second in the NFL, and Joey Bosa wreaking havoc on opposing offensive lines. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL and also one of the slickest. The Chargers will need to be disciplined when tackling him because even though Ingram is good, sometimes he goes for the strip sack and the quarterback is able to get away and make a big play. Bradley will need his two star ends to make Wentz uncomfortable all game.
Eagles Key #2: Forget Flying, Go To The Ground
Carson Wentz threw for 300-plus yards in his first two starts of 2017 but Philly beat the Giants last week thanks largely to their running game that rolled up 193 yards (even without injured former Aztec Donnel Pumphrey). The Chargers pass rush is no joke but their run defense could headline at The Ice House in Pasadena. The only team allowing more rushing yards per game than the Bolts? Those Giants. The Eagles will have to move the ball on the ground to win this one.
Chargers Key #3: Run The Football
Another big injury for the Eagles is their young star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox will not play on Sunday. Cox has been a force since entering the league in 2012and hadn’t missed a game since his rookie year until this weekend. Cox is dealing with a calf injury. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said running back Melvin Gordon will play this Sunday. The Chargers will need him to channel his inner Barry Allen and run because without Cox plugging up the middle, holes might start to open up. Gordon was a big part of the offense last week before he left the game with a bruised knee on Sunday. He had rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Eagles Key #3: Make It Come Down To The Kickers
Younhoe Koo is a rookie who has struggled but let’s face it; the Chargers offensive line on special teams is atrocious. Guys are getting way too close to blocks way too often and with a youngster that can cause a little case of the yips (and you can’t blame the kid for that at all). The Chargers can’t seem to make a field goal with the game hanging in the balance. Meanwhile, the Eagles have a future Hall of Famer in … hang on I’m looking up his name … Jake Elliott, who nailed a 61-yarder at the gun to beat New York a week ago. Just keep it close and leave it to the kickers and Philly wins this one without trouble.
Chargers 27 Eagles 20. Chargers will get their first win of the year and Rivers will be back to his old self.
Eagles 24, Chargers 23. Philly’s only loss came on a late TD to the undefeated Chiefs at Arrowhead. They find a way to win another close game and send the Chargers into football purgatory.
Eagles at Chargers: 3 Keys to Win
What each team must do to win Sunday on the pitch in Carson
This is it.