The Chargers travel cross-country to Philadelphia this weekend to take on the Eagles. LA is coming off a home loss to the Patriots, while the Eagles had a get-right game in a 44-6 victory over the winless Detroit Lions. Will Philly continue their success, or will LA get back on track this weekend?
The model has this game with a final score of 25.44 to 21.52, with the Chargers winning outright. This predicts a final point total of 46.96 points, roughly a field goal less than current odds at 50. The model is also predicting the Chargers to cover the short number by about 4 points.
The Chargers have had a rough stretch of football after starting the season red hot. After starting out 4-1, the Chargers have lost 2 straight games with a BYE in between them. The Chargers have been exposed on defense as the worst rush defense in football and will need to stop the bleeding soon. LA allowed a combined 329 rushing yards to Baltimore and New England and will be going up against an Eagles team that ran for 236 yards last weekend in Detroit. To make up for a horrible run defense, the Chargers defensive secondary ranks 5th in pass yards allowed/game with 203.
On offense, it is no surpise this team runs through Austin Ekeler. A dual threat back, Ekeler has amassed 420 yards rushing and 302 in the air. Ekeler is 3rd on the team in receptions and is averaging 5.0 yards/carry on the ground. Herbert will have to get Keenan Allen and Mike Williams back in the mix if the Chargers want to get back to winning ball games. They have combined for 80 receptions and nearly 1,000 yards on the season with 8 TDs for the Chargers. The issues with this offense have stemmed from defensive adjustments highlighted by Baltimore and New England. They took away the deep ball threat and forced Herbert to beat them underneath, which the 2nd year QB struggled with. Prior to the two losses, Allen and Williams combined for 15 plays of 20+ yards. Williams failed to record a 20+ yard reception in both losses, while Allen tallied just 1 catch in the past 2 games over 20 yards.
Overall, the message is clear for the Chargers. They need to open up the outside and get their playmaking WRs the ball. Herbert is a promising young QB, however it is starting to look like he was playing above his ceiling to start the 2021 season. This may be difficult, as Philly ranks 8th in pass yards allowed/game in the NFL. On the flip side, Philly ranks in the bottom 10 of the NFL in rushing yards allowed/game, so I think we are in for a healthy dose of Austin Ekeler this weekend. The Chargers are only running the ball 35% of the time(4th lowest rate in the league) despite averaging 4.6 ypc, good for 7th best. LA needs to take some pressure off Herbert to force the ball downfield and rely on their bell cow to open it up instead. The question remains – will they be able to, or will the Eagles continue to stifle this offense?
For the Eagles, it has been an up and down season behind 2nd year QB Jalen Hurts. The underlying storyline you’ll hear about all Sunday is how Chargers HC Brandon Staley turned down the Eagles job for LA, allowing Nick Sirianni to land the job in Philadelphia. While I typically don’t buy in much to off-field storylines, there is certainly some locker room motivation for Philly to perform. The Eagles have had a tough season, facing offenses like KC, Dallas, and Tampa Bay. As stated earlier, their rushing defense is a bit of an issue, although they have tightened up against the pass. They are coming off an excellent performance against the Lions, however, take that with a grain of salt. I was very wrong last week about Detroit and the team is in absolute shambles.
Being said, there is a lot to like about last weekend’s game. The Philly backfield had a field day going for 236 rushing yards, with Scott, Howard and Gainwell all getting 12+ touches. Jalen Hurts actually led the team with 71 yards on the ground to go along with a 9/14, 103 passing stat line. It is obvious that the Eagles plan, even without Miles Sanders, is to run the ball and relieve pressure on Hurts to make plays downfield. Hurts is sporting a 42.9 QBR this season, ranking 25th in that category. He’s thrown for a median 1819 yards, 10 TDs and 4 INTs, while as a team they rank 27/32 in passing yards/game.
The Eagles defense also got after it this past weekend, holding on to a shutout until a garbage time TD by Detroit in the 4th. Darius Slay also had a fumble recovery return for 6, padding the overall score of 44 points a bit. The Eagles dialed up pressure as well, tallying 6 sacks for -51 yards. Overall, they held Detroit to 228 total yards and will aim to emulate this performance this weekend. Will Philly stay dialed in, or will the Chargers bring them back to reality?
Herbert – 274.4 yds, 28.03/38.67, 2.5 TDs, 0.5 INTs
Hurts – 260.14 yards, 24.5/36.9, 2.21 TDs, 0.5 INTs, 20.5 rush yds, 4.1 att
Ekeler – 43.63 yards, 11 att, 40.36 rec yards, 5 rec, 6 tgts
Scott- 30 yds, 6.65 att, 14.38 rec yds, 1.69 rec, 2.3 tgts
Howard – 21.48 yards, 6 att
Gainwell – 24.5 yards, 6 att
Williams – 50.8 yds, 4.12 rec on 6.37 tgts
Allen – 55 yards, 6.09 rec, 8.3 tgts
Cook – 34.77 yards, 3.34 rec, 4.8 tgts
Smith – 52.88 yards, 5.12 rec, 8.1 targets
Goedert – 56.06 yds, 5.02 rec, 7.21 tgts
Watkins – 47.26 yards, 3.07 rec, 4.71 tgts
We will be staying away from the point spread this week as it is a matchup between two inconsistent teams. What we will be taking this weekend is the UNDER 50 points. The model is projecting about a field goal less than the current point total of 50, and for good reason. The Eagles have struggled to pass the ball all year, as have the Chargers as of late. Both run defenses stink and we are predicting a grinder of a football game between these two teams. The 44 total points put up by Philly last weekend may also be inflating this number a bit, as I think the Chargers will have a little more backbone than the Lions. LA will need to pound the rock as well if they ever plan to get Allen and Mike Williams back in the mix. For this reason, I also like Justin Herbert UNDER 285.5 passing yards. Regardless of the gameplan, the Eagles have only allowed Derek Carr and Tom Brady to surpass this number. With how Herbert has looked, and a projected 274.4 yards, we like him to come in under 285.5 passing yards as well.