Dealing with the Eagles' weapons

The San Diego Chargers are in for a bigger challenge than most know. The Eagles are perfect under coach Andy Reid following their bye weeks, sporting a 6-0 mark. They are also 17-3 following a loss since 2000.

On top of the post-bye, post-loss juggernaut, they confront the NFL's No. 1 passing game (307.2 yards) led by quarterback Donovan McNabb and wide receiver Terrell Owens.

The Chargers, meanwhile, have not lost a game by more than four points since week three of last season when they were halted by Denver 23-13.

"All you are looking for is to be in a position to win at the end," head coach Marty Schottenheimer reaffirmed.

Sunday will be the Chargers second trip to the east coast, with three more such trips on the agenda. Last time they made the trek, they trounced the defending Super Bowl Champions. Now they will face the other team that appeared in the Super Bowl.

One concern heading into the game is the Eagles' offense. Their heavy emphasis on the pass comes at a time when the Chargers secondary is ailing. Sammy Davis, Drayton Florence and Terrence Kiel all showed up on the injury report as questionable.

In their first five games, 72.9 percent of the Eagles' offensive plays were passing plays. Their running backs have a total of 76 carries over that span. It is no surprise that Philadelphia owns the number one offense in the league.

The Chargers had trouble stopping the pass when at full strength, giving up 245.3 yards per game to place them sixth-worst in the league. This week they face Terrell Owens and his dominating attributes.

"Owens is a little bit different that he goes 100 miles per hour every play," safety Bhawoh Jue cautioned. "I respect that. The main thing you do with a guy like that is match his intensity. Everything he does you are doing it just as hard and showing him for 60 minutes that you are not going to back down."

The one saving grace is a pass rush, which has generated 17 sacks on the year, good for seventh in the NFL.

But many believe the Eagles will actually run the ball this week. Running back Brian Westbrook has been vocal about getting the ball more and they may appease him with quarterback Donovan McNabb recovering from a sports hernia.

"You can't prepare for a player to not play at his best," defensive end Luis Castillo said. "We have to go in there and believe he is going to do all the things Donovan McNabb does."

McNabb, incidentally, is not offering up many hints on the offense.

"I think we have to just run our offense, if it's running the ball or passing the ball," McNabb, who already has 200 pass attempts in five games. "Whatever play is going to be called, just make sure we are able to execute."

The Chargers would, ironically, be happy to see more runs coming at them from Philly. They are third in the league against the run and prefer that to the big play atmosphere the Eagles have created with their dynamic passing game. The ability to contain Westbrook and Owens will go a long way towards securing a victory in a hostile environment.


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