(O/U – 42.5)
The key to Washington’s Week 1 matchup with Philadelphia is their much improved defensive front vs Philadelphia’s offensive line that has more questions than answers. If Washington gets an early lead, their D-line will be able to pin its collective ears back and really attack Carson Wentz, who isn’t exactly made of teflon. Washington’s front seven is loaded this season, featuring #2 overall pick Chase Young out of Ohio State who has already beaten out 4-time Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan for the starting spot. This is a credit to not only Young’s talent, but just how much talent there is on the defensive side of the ball for Washington with a player of Kerrigan’s caliber taking a backseat. Two of the greatest defensive minds in the NFL over the past decade, Ron Rivera (HC) and Jack Del Rio (DC), have teamed up in Washington and switched to the 4-3 base defense. They have been scheming ways to neutralize the Philly weapons of WR DeSean Jackson and TE Zach Ertz. Jackson, in his only game with Wentz last season, absolutely torched Washington’s secondary to the tune of 8 grabs for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 1 last season. Ertz is perennially the best offensive tight end in the league not named Travis Kelce. Both will require constant attention and for Washington’s new and improved front seven to keep Wentz from getting comfortable in the pocket. Chase Young and company should be in Wentz’ face all day and will look to keep the Eagles offense in check to greatly help their own offense, who is light on experienced playmakers, with the recent release of future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson who had averaged over 200 carries and 4.0 yd/carry over the past two seasons.
As for the offense, second year quarterback Dwayne Haskins will be making his first career Week 1 start after starting the final stretch of games last season. While his offensive weapons are not household names, they are not without talent. Terry McLaurin will once again be to go-to guy in the receiving corps and this week he will most likely be matched up with one of the newest Eagles, Darius Slay. When Washington played Slay’s old team, the Detroit Lions, last season, McLaurin was covered by Slay and was able to haul in 5 catches for 72 yards. Slay is another year older and McLaurin has had another year of seasoning. This is definitely the aerial matchup to watch this week. Washington’s offensive line will have its hands full with Philly’s D-line but if they can give Haskins the time he needs, Washington should be able to move the ball successfully against a defense that is not as daunting as it has been in years past, at least on paper. They biggest question mark for Washington offensively is obviously at the runningback position. In light of the previously mentioned departure of Adrian Peterson, the backfield will now be led by J.D. McKissic and rookie Antonio Gibson. Against Philly’s front seven, look for these two backs to do their damage outside the tackles and in the passing game, as Washington looks for a bell cow to emerge from their stable of runningbacks that also includes Bryce Love and Peyton Barber.
Washington is 0-6 against the Eagles over the last 3 seasons, including a pair of Week 1 losses.
- Week 1, 2017: 30-17 Eagles
- Week 7, 2017: 34-24 Eagles
- Week 13, 2018: 28-13 Eagles
- Week 17, 2018: 24-0 Eagles
- Week 1, 2019: 32-27 Eagles
- Week 15, 2019: 37-27 Eagles
Prior to that Washington had won 5 straight matchups against Philadelphia. Perhaps this weekend is where the pendulum swings back in Washington’s favor for a while.
Kickoff set up 1pm Sunday at FedEx Field in front of an expected crowd of 0. Remember, there will be no live fans allowed in attendance for Washington’s home games this season, although this may change depending on the pandemic situation as the season progresses. In fact, only the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (who kicked off the season Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium beating the Houston Texans 31-20) and the Jacksonville Jaguars are allowing live fans in Week 1 and even those stadiums are only allowing fans at 25% capacity.
Week 1 Preview: Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Football Team was originally published on theteam980.com