Eagles-Chargers Predictions by Our (cough) Experts

The Eagles (2-1) are flying high after last week’s dramatic win in the home opener over the Giants.

Can they avoid a letdown against the Chargers (0-3) in Los Angeles on Sunday (4:05 p.m./FOX)?

Our experts provide their Week 4 predictions:

Reuben Frank (3-0)
Long road trip … dangerous AFC opponent … coming off an emotional division win … Last year, the Eagles lose this game. This year, they win it. It’s not yet reflected in their won-loss record – heck, the Eagles were 3-0 last year –  but I think this team has grown. Last year? After blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead? They would not have come back and won. There seems to be a serious-mindedness, a maturity, an all-business mentality in this locker room that starts from Malcolm Jenkins and Jason Peters and trickles down through the roster. Two areas I think the Eagles can take advantage of: The Chargers’ rush defense – 31st in the league – and Philip Rivers’ interceptions – four already this year and an NFL-high 56 since opening-day 2014. So I’ve got Wendell Smallwood topping 100 rushing yards for the first time in his career, a pick-six from Jenkins and a win in the Eagles’ first game in L.A. in 27 years.

Eagles 30, Chargers 20

Dave Zangaro (3-0)
I know the Chargers are 0-3 and the Eagles are coming off a huge win that should swing momentum in their favor. 

But this game has a bad feel to me. 

The Chargers are nowhere near as bad as their winless record suggests. Two of their three losses came to the Broncos and the Chiefs and they lost to the Dolphins by just two points. Meanwhile, the Eagles are coming off an emotional win but have to travel across the country, which is never easy, to face a team with a veteran and dangerous quarterback. 

Oh yeah, and they’ll go into this game without Fletcher Cox and without any decent depth in the secondary. That’s a problem. 

Rivers had a terrible game against the Chiefs. Just awful. He completed 50 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 37.2. He’s going to bounce back this week. 

I think the Eagles have the defense to almost never get blown out this season, but I have a bad feeling about this one. 

Chargers 24, Eagles 21 

Derrick Gunn (3-0)
This could be that proverbial trap game for the Eagles. Going back to the 2016 season, the Chargers have lost 14 of their last 19 games play, but most of those contests have been close. When he’s in a zone, Rivers can be lethal but he will also serve up his share of interceptions. In Rivers’ last 40 games, he has thrown 47 picks. He’s already thrown four in three games this year, which includes three last week against Kansas City. Rivers has also led the league in interceptions in two of the last three seasons.

The loss of Darren Sproles is huge for the Eagles, but Doug Pederson feels comfortable that his backfield by committee can pick up the slack.

Looks like Rodney McLeod and Jordan Hicks will return this week, but the Birds could be thin again at cornerback, and Cox is also out. Jim Schwartz’s blitzes couldn’t get a hand on Eli Manning last week, and it doesn’t get any easier this time as Rivers has only been sacked four times this season.

The Birds’ ground game chewed up a porous Giants’ run defense, and this week the team faces the Chargers’ 31st-ranked D against the run. Keep an eye on the Chargers’ pass rushers LB Melvin Ingram (second in the league with 5.5 sacks) and DE Joey Bosa.

I like the Chargers’ ability to lose this game more than I like the Eagles’ ability to win it.

Eagles 24, Chargers 23

Ray Didinger (3-0)
Yes, this is a classic trap game for the Eagles. Coming off a huge emotional win, flying all the way across the country to play an AFC foe that is 0-3, yada, yada. You’ve heard it all week and I have to admit there is something to it. The Chargers aren’t going 0-16. They’re going to pick off a few W’s this season and this could be one of them.

Ingram and Bosa are a nasty pair of pass rushers and they will be coming after Carson Wentz in a big way. However, the Chargers rank 31st in run defense, so it would make sense for the Eagles to keep their ground game going. They ran all over the Giants last week and if they can do the same this week it will keep Ingram and Bosa in check.

Rivers is a savvy quarterback – he calls his game at the line of scrimmage in the manner of a Peyton Manning – but he threw three interceptions last week against the Chiefs and Antonio Gates, his favorite target, is slowing down. The Eagles will miss Cox but they will have Hicks so that helps. It won’t be easy but …

Eagles 24, Chargers 20

Andrew Kulp (3-0)
The Chargers have a 10-29 record in their last 39 games, dating back to December 2014. Rivers? Turnover-prone and old. Gates? Even older. The team’s top two draft picks? Injured. The leading rusher, Melvin Gordon, averages 3.3 yards per carry; the leading receiver, Keenan Allen, averages 10.3 yards per reception; and the offensive line stinks, as usual.

I fully expect the Eagles to struggle. The O-line has its hands full with Ingram and Bosa. The defense is without its best player in Cox. The game is being played 2,400 miles away in Los Angeles. But the Chargers have secretly been one of the worst teams in the league for years. It might not be pretty, but the Eagles should find a way to win.

Eagles 23, Chargers 20

Corey Seidman (2-1)
Hate to say it but I think the Eagles are losing this one.

The Chargers should be able to get pressure on Wentz unless Lane Johnson and Peters have truly great games. Rivers should be able to connect often with Allen in the slot unless Patrick Robinson turns in a season-best performance. The Chargers also have the home-field advantage and they’re incredibly desperate because their season will be over if they lose this game.

The Eagles are 2-1 and the Chargers are 0-3, but we saw last Sunday that records and last week’s performances don’t matter a whole lot this early in the season.

Chargers 30, Eagles 27

Andy Schwartz (3-0)
This is a tough spot for the Birds.

They’re traveling across the country.

They’re banged up.

They’ve beaten the Chargers on the road only once (1-5) in team history.

And for the second straight week they will be facing a team desperate for its first win.

After beating Manning and the Giants, the Eagles face another veteran QB in Rivers. Rivers and Manning, you may recall, were the primary components in the 2004 draft-day swap. Manning went first overall to the Chargers, and Rivers fourth to the Giants.

Rivers is coming off a brutal game in a 24-10 loss to the Chiefs. He completed just 20 of 40 passes for 237 yards, no touchdowns and three picks. “Painful to watch” seems like an accurate description.

So it’s easy to say Rivers will bounce back, torch the Eagles’ gimpy D, and get the Chargers their first W as an L.A. team.

Forget that. The Eagles haven’t beaten the Chargers on the road since 1974. They’re due. And besides, the Chargers should have stayed in San Diego. Karma’s a …

Eagles 27, Chargers 24

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