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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 19, 2005
Season Ticket
FRI 7 PM Sun 1 PM SF at WAS* Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM
KC at MIA* NO at STL Sun 4 PM DEN at NYG TEN at ARI*
Sun 1 PM PIT at CIN* DAL at SEA* On Bye: Mon 9 PM
GB at MIN* IND at HOU BUF at OAK CAR, TB Updated*

Prediction: San Diego 24, Philadelphia 30

This is another big game this week. The loser here falls at least two games back in their division though both were popularly considered locks to win their division this season. A much tougher schedule for the Chargers this season pitted them against the AFC East and NFC East and it gets no better with this road trip. The Eagles are only 3-2 but have won both games at home and come off their bye week knowing they need to win here. There are so many good matchups this week you should just go out and buy another television.

San Diego Chargers (3-3)
1 24-28 DAL 10 Open Bye
2 17-20 @DEN 11 Nov 20 BUF
3 45-23 NYG 12 Nov 27 @WAS
4 41-17 @NE 13 Dec 4 OAK
5 22-24 PIT 14 Dec 11 MIA
6 27-14 @OAK 15 Dec 18 @IND
7 Oct 23 @PHI 16 Dec 24 @KCC
8 Oct 30 KCC 17 Dec 31 DEN
9 Nov 6 @NYJ . MON SAT
SDC at PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 230,2
RB L. Tomlinson 80,1 40 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 70,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 60,1 0
WR Eric Parker 0 20 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 20 0
PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Chargers come off a big time thumping of the Raiders that entailed Tomlinson scoring every way other than by kicking the ball. The offense has never failed to score at least 22 points this season but the defense has not kept up it's end. The team continues to struggle with consistency in all areas except for one big one - the running game with Tomlinson. Just to make things a little harder - this is the third straight week that the Chargers face a team coming off a bye week.

Quarterback: Drew Brees hasn't been producing big numbers this year other than the number of times he hands off to Tomlinson, but he has scored at least once in each of the last four weeks. Brees has also only thrown one interception in the last four games as more of a game manager that typically only manages about 200 yards per week. If Brees wants to pump up his value for whatever happens next year, this is the game to show something.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson has scored in every game this season, and that goes back an NFL record 18 games. Just to show his versatility, he had a receiving score and a passing score last week in addition to his standard one rushing touchdown. Tomlinson has not fallen below 130 total yards in the last five weeks. It starts and ends with Tomlinson and in the middle, he throws a touchdown pass.

Wide Receivers: The biggest weakness of the offense is in the wideouts and though Keenan McCardell started the season out with five scores in the first four games, he only has four catches for 36 yards over the last three games. There is just no production from this crew for the last few weeks. Reche Caldwell is good for a catch a week - if that and Eric Parker comes off a one catch game as well. Parker also tweaked his ankle last week and could not finish the game, but I am projecting his normal small game until better word is given on his status.

The lack of numbers from this group is reflected in Gates and Tomlinson's production, but what is troubling is that in games where the Chargers cannot rely on solely those two players - like this one - the Chargers are not finding the help to win games.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates lost his lead for tight end yardage to Jeremy Shockey last week when Gates only had two catches for 17 yards. He had been a force in every other game and there was a much reduced need to throw when Tomlinson was winning the game single-handedly. Gates will be back this week.

Match Against the Defense: Here comes a big test for Tomlinson who has been largely unstoppable the last month. The Eagles have only allowed two rushing scores this season and the lone 100 yard game came back in week one in Atlanta for Warrick Dunn. Otherwise, most teams have been stuffed at the line and while Tomlinson won't be stopped, expect him to be slowed enough to miss the 100 yard mark. That should only push him back into the receiving game though so he'll still net some decent numbers.

Brees faces a secondary that has allowed each of the last three opponents to have multiple touchdown passes and it is likely that Brees will be forced to throw in the game. McCardell gets the better matchup and he'll have to produce some numbers here for the Chargers to keep the ball moving. Look for a bounce back game for Keenan as the defense focuses on Gates and Tomlinson first. The two best games against the Eagles by a wideout came from the flanker matching against Lito Shepard who will take chances on interceptions which can lead to some nice gainers - and an interception or two.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)
1 10-14 @ATL 10 Nov 14 DAL
2 42-3 SFO 11 Nov 20 @NYG
3 23-20 OAK 12 Nov 27 GBP
4 37-31 @KCC 13 Dec 5 SEA
5 10-33 @DAL 14 Dec 11 NYG
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @STL
7 Oct 23 SDC 16 Dec 24 @ARI
8 Oct 30 @DEN 17 Jan 1 WAS
9 Nov 6 @WAS . MON SAT
PHI vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 0 0 260,2
RB Brian Westbrook 60,1 30 0
RB Lamar Gordon 0 0 0
TE L.J. Smith 0 50,1 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 110,1 0
WR Greg Lewis 0 30 0
WR Reggie Brown 0 20 0
PK Todd France 3 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Eagles were flying high after three consecutive wins that witnessed the offense becoming the most dangerous in the NFC. Philly opened their game in Kansas City playing flat and fell behind only to turn it back on and steam roll the Chiefs for the rest of the game. In week five, the flat opening happened again but this time the Cowboys were not about to let the Eagles back into the game.

McNabb has been banged up with his sports hernia and Terrell Owens as always is feeling the effects of a groin injury that has lasted for over a year, but the duo has always played beyond their injuries until week five. The bye should have been a big help to get healthier though neither Owens or McNabb is expected to be completely 100% for the rest of the season - it just hasn't normally mattered anyway.

Quarterback: The sports hernia injury of Donovan McNabb has meant that he almost never runs this year - he only has 10 rushes for eight yards on the season. But he had been electric passing for over 342 yards for three straight weeks until the Dallas game when he only managed to complete 13 of 26 for 131 yards and no scores. The Cowboys were plenty fired up for their home game and having just lost to the Raiders, they had been looking forward to the game for two weeks. McNabb back at home should be much more like the deadly quarterback we saw earlier this season.

Running Backs: Brian Westbrook started the year out by topping 100 total yards in each of the first three games and scored at least once each week. But he's been surprisingly quiet for the last two games and only has 48 yards in each with no touchdowns. Westbrook was deadly against the Raiders but even in the passing game he's been pretty quiet since.

The Eagles have been passing as much as they ever have and whatever meager rushing happens does go to Westbrook but he is only averaging 11 carries a game. He's only been averaging about five catches as game as well.

Wide Receivers: This season has seen the Eagles succeed in relation to how much Terrell Owens gets the ball. Owens had been topping 100 yards and/or scoring in every game this year but his only two games without a score were both losses. There is no doubt who will be getting the most passes here, Owens typically gets twice what any other receiver does and has had up to 20 passes in a game.

Greg Lewis has settled down to being just another average #2 wideout on a team with a superstar. He has one score on the year and usually only gets about three or four catches a week. Reggie Brown has done nothing this season after being a big surprise during training camp. Brown only has catches in three games this season and only two catches in the last four weeks.

Tight Ends: L.J. Smith comes off his worst game of the season when he has only two catches for 22 yards against the Cowboys but he turned in at least 50 yards in each of the three previous games and scored in two of them.

Match Against the Defense: While Westbrook has not been running much nor even that well lately, he has an excellent chance at a score here against the Chargers that allow almost every team to run in at least one or two touchdowns. His yardage will remain on the low side but a score would be nice if it doesn't end up with Gordon.

McNabb comes in fresh after a week off and should be able to post some nice yardage and points against this secondary and it will be the first time the Chargers face an uber-wideout this season since Moss got injured last week and did not play. The Eagles will come with Owens of course and he should manage at least the same 80 yards that primary receivers seem to always get against this secondary with one score at least. McNabb should end with at least two passing scores and the non-Owens touchdown favors L.J. Smith or, of course, Owens again.