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    Los Angeles Chargers vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Storylines, prediction for Week 9 showdown

    Oddsmakers think the Chargers vs. Eagles is the best game of the week. Who will prevail in a showdown between Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts?

    In the Los Angeles Chargers vs. Philadelphia Eagles game, the Bolts make their first trip to Philly since 2013 and just their sixth visit ever in an inter-conference showdown late Sunday afternoon. The Eagles enter the week as the NFC’s 11th seed but at 3-5 are just a game out of the final Wild Card spot. The Chargers (4-3) are the AFC’s seventh seed but have lost two straight.

    Los Angeles Chargers vs. Philadelphia Eagles storylines

    Los Angeles has questions at quarterback and in the secondary. Philadelphia has the blueprint for success — but will the Eagles get too cute? Here are the three biggest storylines for the Chargers vs. Eagles clash.

    What’s up with Justin Herbert?

    Call it a sophomore slump or a regression to the mean. Call it whatever you want, but Justin Herbert is working through some issues. In a 3-point Week 8 loss to the Patriots, Herbert had one of the worst games of his career (18 of 35 for 223 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions). The only game he’s played worse? When he faced the same Bill Belichick defense in 2020.

    But it would be foolish to dismiss Sunday’s struggles as a one-off. Herbert’s completion percentage (63.7%), passer rating (94.8), and yards per pass average (7.1) are down from his remarkable rookie season, and his interception rate is up (2.1%).

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    There’s no easy explanation. Dropped passes are a concern, with 6 this year from Keenan Allen and 5 from Mike Williams. Joe Lombardi’s play-calling deserves scrutiny.

    Plus, Herbert seems to struggle when he faces two-deep coverages — that was certainly the case Sunday — and as a result, he can expect to see plenty more of it the rest of the way.

    Will the Eagles just run the damn ball?

    Philadelphia is coming off its best game of the year, a 44-6 road throttling of the Detroit Lions in which the Eagles ran 46 times for 236 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jalen Hurts threw the ball just 14 times — the fewest of his career in a game in which he started. The Eagles tend to lose games in which Hurts is asked to throw them to victory — they’re 2-5 in games in which he has 34 or more attempts.

    So the blueprint is simple, right? Run the ball against the Chargers, who rank last in the NFL in rushing defense (159.6 yards allowed per game) and yards allowed per carry (5.1). But coaches often outsmart themselves, and Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen might be tempted to throw more since L.A.’s starting corners Michael Davis (hamstring) and Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) are both out of the game. They need to fight that temptation and stick with what’s proven to work.

    Are the Chargers contenders or pretenders?

    After a 4-1 start, the Chargers have won just once since October 10. Home-field advantage once looked like a real possibility. Now, it seems L.A. will have to scratch and claw simply to reach the postseason. The Chargers are one of 10 AFC teams bunched between 5-2 and 4-4. They’ve beaten just one team — the Raiders — currently with a winning record. And with their bye already behind them, the Bolts will play 11 straight to close out the season.

    Related | NFL Picks, Predictions Week 9: Will the Packers or Chiefs prevail in Kansas City?

    Plus, as we’ve mentioned, they’re dealing with injury issues, and teams tend not to get healthier as the season progresses. Still, there’s reason for optimism. Of the 12 teams vying for the AFC’s seven playoff spots, only the Bills and Titans have an easier remaining schedule (.455).

    Chargers vs. Eagles betting line and game prediction

    This has all the trappings of a close game, and Vegas agrees. The Eagles are 1.5-point home underdogs. Los Angeles is 16th in DVOA (Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric), and Philadelphia is 17th. The Chargers rank 21st in point differential (-.7) and 13th in yard differential (13.7). The Eagles are 15th in point differential (1.5) and 17th in yard differential (3.9).

    The Chargers have the edge at quarterback. The Eagles have a far superior defense. The cross-continental flight and time change haven’t really affected the Chargers as much as other West Coast teams. They’re 9-7 in the Eastern Time Zone since 2017, plus kickoff on Sunday is at 4:05 PM.

    Chargers vs. Eagles prediction: Chargers 27, Eagles 23

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