Chargers try to stop the bleeding against Eagles
Excuse the Los Angeles Chargers for looking at the Philadelphia Eagles with envy when the two teams meet on Sunday.
Philadelphia has two things that Los Angeles would love to possess: victories and the ability to finish close games. Right before the winless Chargers' eyes at the StubHub Center will be the Eagles (2-1), a team that wins in the closing seconds.
Philadelphia trucks west to Southern California for just the third time since 1989. It does so looking to add on to last Sunday's thrilling win, when Jake Elliott kicked a franchise-record long 61-yard field goal in the final seconds to beat the New York Giants 27-24.
Stunned Eagles fans might still be hooting and hollering.
The Chargers (0-3) know too well about being on the opposite sideline when those dog piles commence after come-from-behind wins.
L.A., winners of nine games in two-plus seasons, has mastered the art of losing close games. It lost an NFL-high eight games last year by seven or fewer points and started this year with two in similar fashion.
The Chargers know this game is essentially a must-win. If the Chargers go winless after four games, with three of them being at home, that relegates them to also-ran status on the crowded L.A. sports scene.
Philip Rivers will try to rebound from a disastrous outing. Rivers, in his 14th season, threw three interceptions in the first half last week for the first time in his career.
Those three turnovers where converted into the 17 points by the Kansas City Chiefs and that was among the reasons the Chargers lost yet again to an AFC West opponent.
"You are never really OK with it," Rivers said. "I can almost name the handful I have had like that in the last 10 years and thankfully there hasn't been many. But they bother you because you feel like you didn't give your team a chance."
But the hope for the future is to keep believing. Rivers will do that against an Eagles defense that squandered a late 14-point cushion and nearly lost to the winless Giants.
"We got 13 games left so let's make it one the most awesome, comeback, bounce-back seasons anyone has ever seen," said Rivers, who has never been 0-3. "You think that and you start to get excited again."
The Chargers offense has been almost absent to date as L.A. struggles to get on track. A unit that was in the top 10 in either yards or points in three of the past four seasons isn't close to that efficiency: No. 19 in yards (315.3) and No. 23 in points (48).
"But if you just watch each play as its own play, you see a lot of good things," Rivers stressed. "That allows us to say, 'Let's just put it together. Let's just win a football game and then I think we have the capability to go on a run. But we have to win that first one, first."
No. 1 on the Eagles list is to keep Carson Wentz humming along. He has thrown five touchdowns and has a completion rate north of 60 percent.
To do that, Philly must contain Chargers linebackers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Those two have combined for 7.5 sacks and giving the Chargers the 1-2 punch they envisioned when selecting Bosa third overall last year.
"Ingram is leading the NFL in sacks and Bosa is a gosh, he is a high-energy, high-motor guy that is relentless," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "Those two guys are tough to block and our tackles, who played extremely well on Sunday, have to do it again. These are two fine pass rushers."
Pedersen, a former Chiefs assistant, knows Ingram all too well.
"I coached against him when I was at Kansas City," Pederson said. "He can definitely wreck havoc on an offensive line. These are two fine pass rusher."
The Eagles have to prove they're OK after losing ex-Charger Darren Sproles to season-ending injuries last week.
The Chargers have to show they can do more than lose in two California cities.
Updated September 28, 2017