The Philadelphia Eagles come to San Diego looking in many ways like the Charger team they face; both teams possess elite Quarterbacks with big-play receivers and feature an offense that leans heavily on the passing game. Capable of scoring from any down and distance, the Chargers and Eagles will test each others secondary early and often.
"Philadelphia is going to come in and throw the football," says Coach Norv Turner. "They've got a dangerous running game but they want to throw the football."
And throw the ball they do; the Philadelphia Eagles are one of only six teams in the league to feature a Tight End who has 400+ yards receiving along with a Wide Receiver with 500+ yards receiving. The other five clubs include the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints - all teams who sit at first or second place in their division.
The Chargers are also built to attack defenses through the air, which in this contest gives them a tremendous advantage over the Eagles. The Eagles are battling some devastating losses in their secondary: Cornerback Joselio Hanson was suspended four games for violating steroids policy and CB Ellis Hobbs was placed on IR with a neck injury. On top of those two blows, the Eagles' Safety Quintin Demps is struggling with a hurt ankle and might not play Sunday.
With so many holes on the back end, the Eagles will not be able to stop the aeriel assault that the Chargers will unleash on them. This game could turn into a shootout, especially is Quarterback Donovan McNabb is able to sustain drives by runing for first downs.
Defensively, the Chargers will need to be disciplined and not take too many gambles. I don't know if the Chargers will be blitzing a whole lot, so that will mean guys need to win their battles up front while the secondary keeps the play in front of them. The Eagles have speedsters in Jermey Maclin and Desean Jackson, and a Quarterback who will move around and buy those guys time to get downfield.
"Donovan [McNabb] is still elusive; he's going to get out of the pocket and make some things happen," Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman says. "He's going to get the ball down the field. We don't know if [Brian] Westbrook is back yet, but we assume his is going to go. But they have some big-play receivers who are fast. They can make some big plays and you don't know when they are going to come. [The Eagles'] big plays can come from Donovan taking the ball 15 yards down the field, running it himself. Brian Westbrook can do some incredible things."
I expect the Chargers to win this game; the Eagles are dealing with too many injuries on both sides of the ball, and the Chargers are starting to get healthy at the right time. I like what the Chargers pass rush is doing and I expect them to continue to get hits on the Quarterback. Shawne Merriman's first sack in the NFL came against McNabb, so there is likely a bit of extra motivation in him. And there will certainly be an amped-up Shaun Phillips playing on Sunday - a Philly native, Phillips will likely have plenty of friends and family watching both at home and in the stands, so he'll want to continue to play at a high level.
I predict a victory for the San Diego Chargers this Sunday...what's your take?
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