Date & Time: September 13th – 1:00 p.m.
Location: Landover, MD – FedEx Field
-Philadelphia: Lane Johnson (Questionable), Miles Sanders (Questionable), Derek Barnett (Questionable), Javon Hargrave (OUT), Alshon Jeffery (OUT)
-Washington: Saahdiq Charles (Questionable), Kendall Fuller (Doubtful), Thomas Davis (OUT)
Philadelphia heads to Landover, MD to take on the Washington football team, led by new head coach, Ron Rivera. The Philadelphia Eagles are facing the Washington Football team in the season opener for the third time in four years. The Eagles have won all three games (Washington hasn’t beaten Philadelphia in 3 years). Here’s our matchup preview:
Carson Wentz will have matchups to exploit in this one. Washington’s secondary is led by strong safety Landon Collins. Outside of Collins the Washington secondary is a bit of a question mark. 3rd year safety, Troy Apke starts opposite Collins. Apke will likely draw Zach Ertz in coverage (a positive for Philadelphia). Former Eagles cornerback, Ronald Darby is now Washington’s number one corner. Kendall Fuller is listed as doubtful and Fabian Moreau will start if Fuller is out. The Eagles wideouts have a chance to feast.
We saw a glimpse of the Wentz-Jackson connection in week 1 last season. DeSean Jackson torched the Washington secondary for 8 rec-154 yards-2 TDs, in the first game of last year’s season. With Jalen Reagor’s labrum injury, it was expected that 2nd year wideout, JJ Arcega-Whiteside would get the start opposite Jackson. However, remarkably, Reagor has worked and rehabbed in the last few weeks and was a full participant in Friday’s practice. Reagor was also not listed on the team’s injury report Friday afternoon. It is expected that he will start. Greg Ward get the start in the slot and he will likely be matched up with Jimmy Moreland.
It starts to get a bit murky for the Philadelphia offense when looking at Washington’s defensive line. Headed by new head coach Ron Rivera and new defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, this defensive line will attack. In it’s new 4-3 defensive scheme, they will pin their ears back and get after the quarterback. Washington sports a bevy of first round picks on their defensive line: Chase Young-Jonathan Allen-Daron Payne-Montez Sweat is the presumed starting unit, according to Washington’s current depth chart. This isn’t mentioning the guys they can rotate in: Ryan Kerrigan, Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle and Ryan Anderson. Philadelphia’s offensive line is a bit banged up. They are without 3-Time-Pro Bowler Brandon Brooks and former first pick Andre Dillard. Jason Peters will get the start at left tackle and Matt Pryor will get his first career start at right guard. Lane Johnson is listed as questionable, but I believe he will be in the starting lineup. The Eagles offensive line will have to protect Carson Wentz and give him time to throw if they are going to be successful.
This season the Eagles backfield will be led by Miles Sanders, who is currently listed as questionable for Sunday’s matchup. Doug Pederson suggested Sanders may be on a “pitch count” in Sunday’s game. In this case, Corey Clement and Boston Scott could see extra playing time. Keep in mind, Washington’s linebackers struggle tremendously in pass coverage. Outside of Shaun Dion-Hamilton who is expected to start in Thomas Davis SR’s absence, expect the Eagles to work to get Washington’s linebackers isolated in space matched up with their quicker running backs.
The Eagles defense comes into the matchup looking much different from the last time they faced off against Washington. Darius Slay now patrols the back end for the Eagles. Malcolm Jenkins is no longer with the team and Jalen Mills now starts opposite Rodney McLeod at safety.
Terry McLaurin torched the Eagles secondary in both games last season
- Game 1: 5 rec – 125 yards – 70 Yard TD
- Game 2: 5 rec – 130 yards – 75 Yard TD
Darius Slay will likely follow McLaurin all game. In his lone matchup against Slay last season, McLaurin had a modest 5 rec – 75 yard game. Dwayne Haskins will most certainly look to get his top target involved, but he will have to go through Darius Slay in order to do so.
Opposite Slay, Avonte Maddox get the start. He will likely be matched up with Dontrelle Inman, who Washington signed just two weeks ago. Expect to see rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden at some point in this game. If the 6’4 Gandy-Golden comes into the game and is matched up on the 5’9 Maddox, that’s a scary sight for Philadelphia.
The Washington offensive line is strong on the right side with Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses anchoring. The left side is where they may struggle and struggle A LOT. The team gave starting nods to rookie Wes Martin at left guard and Geron Christian at left tackle. Christian has started 2 games in his career and earned a 63.0 PFF grade for last season. Chase Roullier gets the usual start at center for Washington. Roullier earned a 69.3 PFF grade for the 2019 season.
The Philadelphia defensive line comes into this game with 3 known starters. Brandon Graham will get the usual start at RDE, along with Fletcher Cox and a returning Malik Jackson at both defensive tackle spots. The left defensive end spot is a question mark at the moment. Derek Barnett is listed as questionable and if he can’t go Josh Sweat will get the start, according to the Eagles depth chart. No matter who starts, this Eagles defensive line should give Washington fits. The Eagles only mustered a combined 2 sacks against Washington last season. Expect that number to increase with the presence of Malik Jackson. Jackson will alleviate pressure off of Fletcher Cox, which will free up Cox with one on one matchups with Washington’s offensive linemen.
The Eagles much maligned linebacking core will be led by MLB TJ Edwards, who is a breakout candidate for the team. Nate Gerry and Duke Riley get the starts at SLB and WLB. Washington sports a quartet of running backs. Antonio Gibson-J.D. McKissic-Peyton Barber-Bryce Love. Ron Rivera has said it will be running back by committee for Washington this season. The Eagles have excelled at stopping the run under Jim Schwartz. Don’t expect that to change in this game.
Doug Pederson is undefeated in regular season openers and Pederson is undefeated against Ron Rivera in his career. The Eagles return much of the same staff outside of the major additions of Rich Scangarello, who is now the team’s senior offensive assistant, and new DB coach, Marquand Manuel. As for Washington, they have a completely new coaching staff. Ron Rivera, Scott Turner (OC), and Jack Del Rio (DC). Expect Pederson to be aggressive offensively and go after Washington’s shaky secondary. Expect Jim Schwartz to get after Dwayne Haskins, considering the state of the Washington offensive line. Jack Del Rio will likely do the same with his defensive line, considering how stacked they are and the Eagles offensive line issues. Scott Turner is said to want to run the ball and utilize heavy play action sets. He will likely gameplan to get the ball into the hands of his team’s top offensive weapon: Terry McLaurin. The Eagles have to be prepared.
The lack of a preseason and on field practice time will significantly hinder Washington in this game. Make no mistake about it, this game will be won in the trenches. D-Line vs O-Line on both sides. However, the matchup becomes heavily into the Eagles favor when looking elsewhere on the field. With an all new coaching staff and Washington’s uncertain secondary and shaky offensive line, they are too early in the process and light on offensive talent to give the Birds any real fits (outside of their defensive line). Expect the Eagles to score in bunches on Sunday.
Pick: Eagles 35, Washington 14