This is the next part in our series of previews of the Eagles 2009 opponents. Joining us for this feature is Dave Schwab, who writes about the Eagles at his site Eagles Lincs.
One of the more crazy/entertaining endings in recent Eagles memory came when the last time the Eagles played the Chargers in 2005. The Chargers were up 17-13 and lining up for a fourth quarter FG that would seal the game... Stunningly, the FG was blocked and rookie DB Matt Ware picked it and returned it for a TD sealing a 20-17 Eagles win.
Will Sunday's game be so interesting? Check out Dave's full analysis after the jump.
2009 Eagles Opponents- San Diego Chargers
The Eagles are going to have to quickly get over the disappointing loss to the Cowboys at home on Sunday night to get ready for another trip to the west coast for next week’s game, as we all remember what happened the last time they were out there. This time they will face the 5-3 San Diego Chargers who are coming off a dramatic last minute win over the N.Y. Giants. In a 4:15 P.M. start on Sunday, November 15th from Qualcomm Stadium, Philadelphia will face a Charger team that has played themselves back into the AFC West race after a 2-3 start. The Eagles would love to start the second half of the season with a win, but it will not be easy against the high powered Charger offense on the road.
On offense, San Diego lives and dies by their passing game. Despite the fact they have RB’s LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles they are ranked dead last in rushing yards only averaging 69 per game through the first nine weeks. Conversely, their passing attack is ranked 7th overall, averaging over 265 yards per game. Led by QB Phillip Rivers who has already throw for 2245 yards and 14 TD’s this season, San Diego will have to rely heavily on their passing to try and move the ball against the Birds. WR Vincent Jackson is their leading receiver with 42 receptions for 722 yards and 7 TD’s but the real problem for the Eagles will be stopping TE Antonio Gates from having a big day. Gates is the second leading TE in the league in receiving yards with 590. The Eagles’ defense has struggled all season long containing opposing team’s tight ends so this could be their biggest challenge in this game. The good news is that given the fact that San Diego is so one dimensional on offense, the Eagles should be able to tee off on Rivers through their regular defensive rush and not rely as heavily on blitzing to get to him.
San Diego’s defense has been one of the weakest parts of this team, but in their recent three game winning streak, they have picked up their game. While they are still giving up an average of 22.4 points per game, they have held their last three opponents to an average of 14. They are fairly strong against the pass ranking 5th overall, only giving up an average of 169 yards per game. Where the weakness lies is against the run, where they are ranked 26th overall, giving up an average of 130 yards per game. Brian Westbrook, who was held out of a second straight game as a precaution after sustaining a concussion in the Washington game, should be a welcomed return to the lineup. RB LeSean McCoy has played well in his absence, but it will still be good to have # 36 back on the field.
Before the season, I picked these two teams to meet in this year’s Super Bowl. While things haven’t gone exactly as planned the first half of the season for either team, they have both proven in the past they are two of the best second half teams in the entire league. This game should be a great one with big plays determining the outcome. The Eagles should be able to move the ball on offense as well as puts some points on the board against this Charger defense. The big question will be Philadelphia’s ability to get to Rivers without relying heavily on the blitz. If they can force some bad throws with pressure from the front four while keeping Gates from breaking free over the middle, the Eagles should come home from this trip out west with a win.