Each week, the PFF analysis team will bring you break downs of the most important matchups for each game of the NFL season.
Coverage by: Mike Alessandrini
Matchup: Philadelphia Eagles offense vs. Los Angeles Chargers defense
- QB Carson Wentz vs. Chargers cornerbacks – the Eagles’ quarterback earned his highest game grade of the young season last week against the Giants (77.0) after a poor outing in Kansas City. When kept clean, Wentz has an 81.6 adjusted completion percentage and a 102.5 passer rating this year. When under pressure, however, his passer rating falls to 48.2 (25th out of 32 quarterbacks). He could have a tough time against Los Angeles’ stingy secondary. Casey Hayward has been up-and-down in 2017, but had a league-high seven interceptions last season. Quarterbacks had 53.4 passer rating when targeted the veteran in 2016. Trevor Williams, the Chargers’ highest graded cornerback (84.2), will start opposite Hayward. His 0.56 yards per coverage snap and 18 coverage snaps per reception both rank in the top ten among cornerbacks.
- Eagles offensive tackles vs. Chargers edge rushers – Philadelphia’s offensive tackles have been stout in pass protection this year, but will face a stiff test against the Chargers. Both Lane Johnson (97.6) and Jason Peters (97.3) rank inside the top ten in pass-blocking efficiency this season, while allowing just one sack between them. Johnson was named to PFF’s team of the week for his efforts against New York in Week 3. On the other side of the line, Melvin Ingram is enjoying a great start to 2017. His 86.8 overall grade is eight best among edge defenders, while his 16.9 pass-rush productivity ranks fifth. Meanwhile, stud sophomore Joey Bosa has three sacks and nine pressures over his first three contests.
- HB LeGarrette Blount vs. LB Jatavis Brown – After two rough weeks to begin his Eagles career, Blount shined with more work last week. His 173.6 elusive rating was the second-highest mark among running backs with at least 10 rushing attempts. He also averaged 4.17 yards after contact per attempt. For Los Angeles, Jatavis Brown will be a key cog in run defense in this matchup. Brown has struggled overall thus far (40.0 grade), but his 11 run stops are the highest on the team and among all NFL linebackers (in a tie with three others). The sophomore’s 13.3 run-stop percentage ranks fifth among linebackers.
Coverage by: Ben Cooper
Matchup: Los Angeles Chargers offense vs. Philadelphia Eagles defense
- RB Melvin Gordon vs. LBs Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham – Melvin Gordon’s sophomore campaign brought him into the limelight, and 2017 has been his opportunity to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. Thus far, he has performed up to expectations, forcing seven missed tackles in the rushing game and five in the passing game, which equates to a 48.2 elusive rating (20th). At this time last season, Gordon had forced seven missed tackles in the rushing game, but only one in the passing game. On the opposite side of the ball, Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks will be tasked with taming Gordon in the run game. Kendricks has a run stop-percentage of 11.5 percent through three weeks, good for ninth among 68 outside linebackers with 25-plus run snaps. Bradham has found similar success with a run-stop percentage of 10.4 percent (14th).
- T Joe Barksdale vs. EDGE Brandon Graham – Joe Barksdale has struggled through two games at right tackle, but he has yet to allow a sack. Barksdale has surrendered eight total pressures, all of which have been hurries. His pass-blocking efficiency rating of 90.3 ranks 61st of 70 tackles. Brandon Graham will look to take advantage of this as he brings his three sacks and nine total pressures from the defenses’ left side into the matchup. His pass-rushing productivity score of 8.4 is 29th among 4-3 defensive ends. Barksdale’s 32.3 overall grade ranks 71st among 73 tackles, while Graham’s overall grade of 88.2 is ninth among 96 edge rushers. Barksdale’s ability to hold up against Graham will be pivotal in determining QB Philip Rivers’ level of success on Sunday.
- WR Keenan Allen vs. CB Jalen Mills – Coming off an ACL tear in 2016, Keenan Allen has done his best through three weeks to rebound. Allen is the highest graded Chargers’ wide receiver so far (79.9), ranking 19th of 109 wide receivers. He has found most of his success from the slot. Jalen Mills is coming off a historic week in which he was targeted 21 times, the most of any corner back in the PFF era. Those targets have resulted in him having the second worst mark in coverage snaps per reception (4.7). Mills doesn’t travel to the slot, so when Allen is there, he won’t see Mills’ coverage, but when he’s outside, Philip Rivers will surely follow suit and target his No. 1 against Mills.