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In his debut as an NFL coach, Chip Kelly led the Eagles to a surprising 33-27 win over the Washington Redskins (see last week's predictions).
The Eagles now welcome the San Diego Chargers to Lincoln Financial Field for the Birds' first home game of the season.
Here are our predictions:
After some down years, Philip Rivers bounced back nicely in the opener. He’s a good quarterback and playing in a system better designed to limit his turnovers and capitalize on his accuracy. The Chargers should present more problems for the Eagles than Washington did, but they’re coming off a heartbreaking loss in which they blew a three-touchdown lead and fell at the buzzer in Mike McCoy’s debut. Factor in that they’re flying across the country for a 1 p.m. Linc opener. That’s too much going against them.
Eagles 26, Chargers 20
Everyone -- I mean, absolutely everyone -- expects the Eagles to win this game in a rout and that always makes me uneasy. The fans expect the Eagles to roll over the Chargers and, clearly, the oddmakers agree because the betting line keeps going up. I do expect the Eagles to win but it may be closer than people think. Look for Philip Rivers to work the short passing game. If he can move the chains and control the ball, he will slow Chip Kelly's offense. The Eagles win but they may not cover.
Eagles 30, Chargers 24
After the season opener, the Eagles' offense has been the talk of the NFL and rightfully so. San Diego’s fourth-quarter collapse at home against Houston has put the Chargers in a bit of a hole, because now they have to travel across country to try to redeem themselves. Philip Rivers will come out firing away, and the Eagles will dare the Chargers' defense to keep up with them. Keep a close eye on Trent Cole playing over Chargers left tackle and former Eagle King Dunlap. The Birds' D will bring the heat in what should be another entertaining game.
When the dust settles, Chip Kelly will win his home-opening debut.
Eagles 35, Chargers 28
There’s this notion that Philip Rivers is still a top-tier quarterback, and the Chargers' offense is still dangerous. Look at the numbers. That’s not really the case any longer. Rivers had a down year last season. He threw 15 interceptions (just four off the pace for most in the league). He was 17th in yards, and his 88.6 quarterback rating was his worst in six seasons.
Last week, Rivers threw four touchdowns, but he also completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes while tossing a horrible pick-six late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Texans to eventually win the game.
They still have Antonio Gates, but he’s 33 now. The rest of the receivers are no-names, and running back Ryan Mathews totaled just 707 yards and one touchdown a year ago. The point: The Chargers don’t have many weapons on offense. Combine all that with the fact that they have to fly across the country on a short week (they played the late game on Monday night) and it could be a long day for San Diego. I just don’t see how they keep up with Chip Kelly’s hyperactive offense.
Eagles 31, Chargers 17
Did everyone get too excited over the Eagles' Week 1 victory? Every game in the NFL is like a season in itself. For six days, it's analyzed and diagrammed and critiqued and broken down.
So even though the Eagles' Vegas odds of winning the Super Bowl improved from 50 to 1 to 28 to 1 (see story), let's remember one thing: It was one game.
And as Buddy Ryan used to remind us, you have to win in November and December to play in January.
That said, before the season I thought this was a game the Eagles would win -- these aren't LaDainian Tomlinson's Chargers -- and then there's the jet-lag issue (see story). Plus, let's not diminish the win over Washington, which shouldn't have been as close as it was (see Redskins' first and last TDs).
Thing is, if they win this week (and you know it's bad luck if we all pick them to win), then that means they're a win over Andy Reid's squad from ... eh nevermind. As Reid liked to tell us, one game at a time.
Eagles 34, Chargers 28
Can Chip Kelly become the first Eagles head coach to start his career 2-0 in more than 50 years? Heck yeah. The last Eagles head coach to win his first two games was Nick Skorich, who took over after Buck Shaw retired following the 1960 NFL Championship season. The Eagles opened 1961 with seven-point wins over the Browns and Redskins on their way to a 10-4 season.
Kelly’s Eagles face the Chargers on Sunday afternoon in Kelly’s home opener, and although the matchup between Philip Rivers and an Eagles’ secondary missing starting cornerback Bradley Fletcher (concussion) is a little scary, the Eagles’ offense should be able to pile up enough points against a San Diego defense that allowed 31 points and 449 yards to the Texans.
Eagles 37, Chargers 31