Eagle Eye: Eagles-Chargers predictions
Eagles (1-0) vs. Chargers (0-1)
1 p.m., CBS
What could be more anticipated than the Eagles' first game under new head coach Chip Kelly?
How about the next one?
After rolling out the new up-tempo offense and racking up 443 yards in a season-opening upset victory in Washington, the Birds will aim to replicate the success in their home opener at the Linc against the San Diego Chargers.
Here are five things you'll want to know:
1. Boykin's biggest test
For the first time in his young career, Brandon Boykin will be called upon to start at outside cornerback in place of the injured Bradley Fletcher, who suffered a concussion in the opener and will not play.
With his experience as a nickel corner, the speedy Boykin should have no extra problems with Bolts receivers Eddie Royal or Vincent Brown. But he might be in trouble if 6-foot-5 Malcolm Floyd, who holds a seven-inch height advantage, lines up against him. Floyd had just one catch in Week 1, but it went for 47 yards.
Boykin intercepted his first career pass last week off Robert Griffin III early in the first quarter. And for what it's worth, the Eagles were 3-1 in games that Boykin started last season, although those starts only occurred when opponents lined up three wide to open the game.
2. Can they stop it again?
The Eagles held the NFL's most potent running attack from a year ago to a mere 74 yards in the opener. That included just 45 on 12 carries from Alfred Morris, who finished second to Adrian Peterson with 1,613 rushing yards last season. Can they do it again against San Diego?
The Chargers rushed for just 80 yards last week in a 31-28 loss to the Texans — one of the main reasons the Bolts couldn't seal the victory after being up 28-7 in the second half.
Ryan Mathews rushed for just 33 yards on 13 carries in the opener, but the 6-foot, 220-pound back is still a force to be reckoned with and just two years removed from a 1,091-yard season in which he averaged 4.9 per carry. Former Eagle Ronnie Brown picked up 27 yards on five attempts.
3. Keep the takeaways comin'
No doubt, one of the biggest reasons — if not the No. 1 reason — the Eagles finished 4-12 last year was because of their lack of takeaways. They had just 13 (tied for last in the league with the Chiefs) on eight picks and five fumble recoveries and a paltry three in the final eight weeks, when they went 1-7.
Monday night, the Birds got three — a fumble recovery on Washington's first play from scrimmage and two interceptions — that led to 14 points. On the drive they didn't score, they wound up pinning the Redskins deep and getting a safety.
The Chargers coughed the ball up just once, on a Philip Rivers interception, but it ended up going for a Houston pick-six to tie the score in the fourth quarter. Rivers threw 15 interceptions last year (T-10th, NFL) and 20 in 2012 (T-3rd).
4. Giddy up
The Eagles ran 53 plays, about one every 24 seconds, in the first half against the Redskins. In total, they ran 77 plays after slowing down the tempo with a big lead in the second half. But they also failed to move the ball after slowing down, so even with a big lead don't expect them to do the same this time.
Chip Kelly still thinks the offense can go faster. He said so Tuesday when the Birds resumed practice. Jason Kelce also believes the Eagles can pick up the pace.
But how much faster can they actually go? 100 plays? That's never been done in an NFL-regulation game. The most snaps in a game last year was 92 by the Patriots. If they put together two halves like the opening one from a week ago, it could be done, and that's scary.
In comparison, the Chargers ran 51 plays last week.
5. This and that
• It's been awhile since the Eagles and Chargers have gone at it — four years in fact. And eight years since San Diego paid a visit to Philly. In 2009, Donovan McNabb and the Eagles fell, 31-23, to Rivers and the Bolts. In 2005, the Birds beat a Drew Brees-quarterbacked San Diego squad, 20-17, at the Linc. The Chargers have won in Philadelphia just once (1995).
• The Eagles hadn't had much success in their home openers recently before last year's 24-23 win over the eventual Super Bowl-champion Ravens. They lost their last three before that and have dropped five of seven overall dating back to 2006.
• West Coast teams have a .325 winning percentage during 1 p.m. games on the East Coast since 2000 (see story).
• The Eagles opened as 7-point home favorites.
• DT Clifton Geathers and Chargers NT Kwame Geathers are brothers.
• Injury Report: In addition to Fletcher, OT Dennis Kelly (back) is also out. For the Chargers, Manti Te'o (foot) is out, while DE Sean Lissemore (elbow), DE Corey Liuget (shoulder) and SS Brandon Taylor (knee) are all probable.
In case you missed them, here are a few stories from earlier this week: