The Eagles will host the Washington Redskins on Monday night in a key NFC East matchup.
Our four beat writers predict the outcome.
I am picking the Eagles to win and cover. I feel a bit like Charlie Brown running up to kick the ball.
But I think the Eagles' defensive line is getting healthier and can do a lot of damage against Washington's offensive line. I expect, with Colt McCoy at quarterback, the Redskins will try to make this an Adrian Peterson game, and that running the ball will keep the score low-ish. If Nigel Bradham can tackle with that cast on his hand, I think the Eagles' defense should be OK, better on the back end than it was against the Giants.
I never have any idea what to expect from the Eagles' offense, but I believe the offensive line is showing signs of improvement. Washington will gear up to stop the run, after watching film of Eagles-Giants. That ought to leave some space for Carson Wentz and his receivers, if the O-line holds up.
Prediction: Eagles 22, Redskins 14
I had the Eagles winning this game by a point. Then Nigel Bradham walked into the Eagles locker room Wednesday afternoon with a cast on his left hand.
As everyone is well aware, the Eagles have some major injury issues in their secondary.
But the Eagles need to stop the run first against the Redskins. They need to silence Adrian Peterson on first and second down. Then they can focus on the pass and tee off on Colt McCoy on third-and-long.
The problem is the Eagles haven't been very good against the run the last five or six games. Can't get off blocks. Can't tackle. Can't stay in their gaps.
Now, one of the keys to the Eagles' run defense — Bradham — will essentially be playing one-handed, which isn't going to help that tackling issue much.
In their last six games, the Eagles have allowed 6.0 yards per carry. In those same six games, they've allowed 6.6 yards per carry on first down. I just don't know if they going to be a lot of third-and-longs to feed the pass-rushing beast.
Prediction: Redskins 24, Eagles 23
Colt McCoy should be enough reason to pick the Eagles this week, but the Redskins' biggest issue may be keeping the quarterback clean. Washington's offensive line has been a merry-go-round of moving bodies in and out and across the lineup. Tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are healthy and back to starting, but the interior has been battered. The Eagles should have a significant advantage with Fletcher Cox, the getting-his-legs-back Tim Jernigan and Michael Bennett, when he rushes from inside. Jim Schwartz will likely have to rely on his four-man rush with cornerback Jalen Mills and safety Avonte Maddox out for another week. Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas are expected to start on the outside. While that didn't go so well two weeks ago against the Saints, McCoy is no Drew Brees.
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If the Redskins win, it will probably be on the strength of their defense. Coordinator Greg Manusky utilizes a 3-4 base front that has struggled to stop the run in recent weeks. Opposing offenses have averaged 4.8 yards a carry over the last four games. If the Eagles can establish the run game with Josh Adams leading the charge, they may finally be able to get ahead early. They haven't scored a point in the first quarter in five games. Getting ahead will help play action and give Carson Wentz more opportunities down the field. He hasn't completed a meaningful deep pass in three games. Safety D.J. Swearinger is the Redskins' linchpin in the secondary. Edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan will give right tackle Lane Johnson all he can handle, and Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen are above-average run defenders. The Eagles might be able to exploit cornerback Fabian Moreau. It should be a close game.
Prediction: Eagles 23, Redskins 20
It's another must-win game for the Eagles against a division rival at home, and once again the Eagles are heavy favorites. Although Washington got off to a hot start this year, it is playing with a backup quarterback and a banged-up offensive line. That should give the Eagles a notable advantage, especially if the Eagles' front four can play like they did last week. My guess is that will be the difference in the game. The Eagles will apply pressure on Colt McCoy, which will help them overcome a secondary that is still less than full strength. Washington doesn't have the same skill-position talent that the Giants presented, either. Watch out for tight end Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson (if he plays). But the visitors have the threats on the outside. Adrian Peterson is having a resurgent season and will test a defense that has allowed 100-yard rushers in three consecutive weeks. The tackling must be better, but another week of Tim Jernigan will help.
On offense, Washington's defensive line is underrated. The Eagles will have a harder time at the line of scrimmage than last week, so I don't know if they'll have the same type of rushing output against the NFL's eighth-ranked rush defense. But Washington has allowed big plays through the air — it's No. 23 against the pass — and the Eagles will challenge Washington that way. I know, I know, everyone wants to see a balanced offense. They won't abandon the run. Still, Carson Wentz will be the key in this game. The Eagles won't cover, but they'll get back to .500 and win back-to-back games for the first time this season.