Philadelphia Eagles

Why the Eagles could upset the Chargers in week 9

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The Eagles are one day away from a showdown against the Los Angeles Chargers and it’s not one that they’re favored to win. However, I genuinely believe the team have a huge chance of causing an upset.

The stars are aligning

The Chargers have the second-worst run defense in the NFL and the Eagles are coming off of a game where they ran the ball so much that it was almost out of spite after weeks of external pressure to do so. The result was 4 touchdowns and a total of 235 yards racked up on the ground. If the Eagles simply follow last weeks’ script, they should be able to dictate the tempo of the game and have some fairly modest offensive success.

Kenneth Murray will be making his return to the Chargers defense, but he’s been awful against the run this year. Prior to his injury, Murray could have been easily confused for an Eagles linebacker who got lost on the way to the stadium.

As much as last weeks’ output was promising, the gameplan was even more so. We saw Jalen Reagor used on sweeps and some creative plays to get the teams’ playmakers in open space. That had been severely lacking in the weeks leading to the contest and if Sirianni can build on that then good things will happen against a Chargers defense that struggles to stop the bleeding.

The Birds will be without Miles Sanders, but if they can run the ball 20+ times and keep the pressure on Jalen Hurts light enough so that he doesn’t feel the need to escape the pocket every other play unnecessarily, then this will only benefit an offense that seems to finally be finding an identity.

A huge advantage on offense

The Chargers will also be without both of their starting cornerbacks.  Rookie CB Asante Samuel Jr. Will join Michael Davis on the sideline this Sunday, leaving veteran Chris Harris as the lone starter. 

Brandon Staley noted that special teams ace Ryan Smith and uber-athletic Tevaughn Campbell will fill in at outside while Derwin James will also see snaps at in the slot. This is a very vulnerable secondary, and one that previously was very sturdy.

They’re giving up the fewest yards to WR’s of any team this season and considering that Jalen Hurts doesn’t like throwing over the middle, this would’ve previously been a bad omen. Instead, Hurts has a fully healthy WR group to attack inexperienced corners, with DeVonta Smith’s route-running becoming a huge weapon for Sirianni to try and utilize.

If the Chargers know they can’t stop the run and are watching an Eagles offense pound the rock, it will build the perfect opportunity to ‘run the ball to set up the pass’. Hurts hasn’t been accurate on deep shots all year, but if there’s ever a scenario to let it rip, the risk vs reward ratio is the most appealing it has been, and probably will be for the rest of the season.

But what about Justin Herbert?

There’s no denying that Herbert is going to be one of the top NFL arms over the next decade. The 2020 rookie of the year had a stellar campaign last season and while his numbers have cooled off a little, he’s still just as lethal as he always has been.

He’s completing 63% of his passes and the Eagles are allowing QB’s to complete an average of 74% of their passes, the worst mark in the entire league. There is a huge chance that Herbert sits back and is able to diligently pick apart a defense that refuses make things difficult, but we did see flashes of change.

The Eagles made life difficult for Jared Goff last week, with Gannon finally letting his edge rushers off the leash and the results spoke for themselves. However, Herbert isn’t Goff and is bound to put up more of a fight…especially given that the Chargers have some spicy talent at wide receiver.

Regardless of that the defense does and how they plan to stop Herbert, the best gift that they could be given is one of rest. The Eagles had 35 minutes of possession in last weeks’ win against the Lions, ranking fifth in the NFL. The Chargers have struggled to keep the ball all season long, amassing an average of only 28 minutes of possession per game, ranking 25th in the NFL.

If The Eagles pledge to run the ball early and often and play a game of keeepaway, the battle is half won. It doesn’t matter how quickly Herbert marches down the field and scores if the Eagles are able to drain the clock and gradually walk the ball right back down the other end and put up points.

If all of these factors come together, the Eagles have every chance of springing a surprise here.

Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire

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Liam is a 25-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.

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