Week four is almost upon us. The Eagles are preparing for a trip to Los Angeles to face an 0-3 Chargers side with a lot to prove. While many consider this a trap game, the Eagles have the potential and ability to further cement their place in the NFC playoff picture. Here are five things to watch this weekend.
Will the run game continue to flourish?
The Eagles backfield exploded onto the scene last weekend, putting 171 yards and two scores. Continuity simply has to be the key moving forward, but for a backfield without Sproles, it may prove to be difficult.
Linebacker Jatavis Brown leads the NFL in tackles with 36, while the defensive line has ran rampant. Bouncing runs outside may prove slightly more problematic than it did one week ago…but the Eagles have one thing going for them.
The Chargers have allowed 440 rushing yards through the opening three games, the 3rd most in the league. If Pederson can once again stick to the run, it may prove to be a key to offensive success.
Two weakened secondaries:
The Eagles are without Ronald Darby. The Chargers are without Jason Verrett. Trevor Williams and Casey Hayward provide re-enforcements, but is it enough to contain Alshon Jeffery and company when you factor in Torrey Smith’s deep speed that has been on show but not utilized in the opening three weeks?
For the Eagles, it’s Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas who will hold the fort against an Offense in which three receivers have already surpassed the 100-yard mark. After bending but never breaking against the Giants Offense, the laser-accurate arm of Phillip Rivers may make those one-on-one matchups against Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin even tougher.
Will the defensive line survive?
Fletcher Cox is absent and the Chargers are striving to sustain a rushing effort to support Phillip Rivers. Corey Clement’s former teammate, Melvin Gordon has looked red hot when touching the ball during the opening three weeks, amassing 146 yards and two scores. If the Chargers continue to punch the ball up the gut, a returning Jordan Hicks and DT effort by committee will be put to the test against a dual threat back who already has 12 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Defending the elite:
One of the most dominant DE duos in the league lies ahead and is coming up against an offensive line that has faced several question marks already this season. The Chargers have the second most sacks in the NFL this season, with the ever dominant Melvin Ingram having 5.5 alone. Joey Bosa has been just as impressive, showing the world once again this season just how dangerous he can be as his development continues.
While the offensive tackles may not have much to worry about, with the duo being among the best in their position, it’s the roulette at LG that could prove problematic if the Chargers decide to shake things up or begin stunting their ends inside.
Keeping Wentz upright will be an absolute priority this week if he is to pick apart a faltering secondary…but to do so, they have to stop arguably the leagues most rampant pass rush.
The deep ball:
We’ve seen glimpses. We’ve seen near-misses. But we’re yet to see a consistent deep ball from Wentz. Several certain home runs have come up empty with overthrows, but could this be the week Wentz finally gets it together? If it’s all on chemistry and timing, both Ertz and Jeffery have 28 targets this year, with Smith having 12 less. The Chargers have just one interception this season, but their pass Defense has only allowed 528 yards through three games. If there’s ever a chance to capitalize on a week secondary, it’s now. The Eagles may be forced into running a similar gameplan to the one that New York ran last week, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Pederson and Wentz…it’s that confidence is a trait they do not lack.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports