Hail To the Washington Football Team.. or something like that.
As I write this, we are just 74 hours 23 minutes and 32..31..30 seconds away from kickoff. You get the point. It’s real freaking close to *cue CBS intro* Sundays opening kickoff. After going 0-2 last year against their hated rivals to the north, The Washington Football Team looks to ground the Philadelphia Eagles early to start the 2020 season.
The Philadelphia Eagles finished the 2019 season perched atop the NFC East standings with a 9-7 record, while The Washington Football Team finished as an afterthought with an ugly 3-13 record. Right now the Eagles are a far better football team, and it’s not even close. However, this is a heated rivalry that stems back to 1934 (Washington Football leads the all time series 85-80-6), and every avid football fan knows that there’s no such thing as a lock in a divisional game. Let’s take a look at the key points of the game that will surely go a long way into deciding the winner.
Washington’s Defensive Line VS. Eagles Offensive Line
- The loss of Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard
- Jason Peters move from LG back to LT
- 5 first-round picks
- Addition of rookie Chase Young
The Eagles offensive line looks a lot different going into Week One than the one that ranked in the top third of the league last season. Starting LT Andre Dillard and three-time Pro Bowl RG Brandon Brooks were both lost to injuries this off-season. Doug Pederson was forced to move 17-year veteran, nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters back to his original spot at LT. Chase Young ought to be licking his chops. The 2020 first-round pick joins the already stout defensive line that consists of four other first-round picks. The match-up to watch will be Young vs. Peters. It will be interesting to see if the ferocious pass rusher out of Ohio State University will be able to get the best of the seasoned vet, or if Peters is about to give the rookie a warm welcome to the league
Terry McLaurin VS. Darius Slay
McLaurin is only entering his second season in the NFL, but has already managed to reach peak enemy status in the City of Brotherly Love. In his two career games against the birds, he put up a whopping 255 yards and two touchdowns – on 10 total catches. After taking advantage of a weak Eagles secondary in 2019 he will now face a new and improved Eagles secondary this time around, but not an unfamiliar face.
The Eagles have continuously been let down by their secondary over the past few seasons. It has been their glaring weakness. Fans have been clamoring for them to make a trade or to sign a big name free agent after repeatedly being burnt by opposing wideouts. Enter, Darius Slay. The Eagles acquired the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback from the Detroit Lions in the off-season for exchange for a third and fifth-round pick. He is an immediate upgrade over former Eagles corner Ronald Darby – who is ironically now wearing burgundy and gold.
Although Slay presents a much tougher match-up, you don’t have to look far to get an idea of what McLaurin could do. He faced Slay while he was still a member of the Lions, putting up a solid stat line of five receptions for 72 yards. Chemistry will be a key factor in this match-up. McLaurin has already built a repertoire with Haskins. Will Slay mesh well with his new teammates after a shortened camp?
Dwayne Haskins’ Leadership
Last year there was an awkward video circulating where Haskins was shown trying to pump up his offensive line on the sideline during a 34-17 loss to the New York Jets. Cringe. It was uncomfortable to watch. His teammates did not seem to buy into any of it. That is not the type of reaction you would expect or want to see. Now that Haskins has had another off-season under his belt it will be interesting to see if he’s gained more respect from his teammates. He’s entering week one with a much slimmer figure, having lost 10 pounds and 7% body fat according to his own Twitter. He is also entering the season with a totally revamped coaching staff who is known for their all-around aggressive nature of play. Come Sunday we will have a better idea as to how well everything is clicking in the DMV.
The Washington Football team comes into week one pretty unscathed. Thomas Davis, Jr. is the only player who has a chance of not suiting up, as he was the only one who wasn’t on the field early Thursday.
Eagles wideouts can never seem to stay healthy. Wentz will most likely be without his number one receiver once again to start the season. Alshon Jeffrey did not participate in Thursday’s practice and it doesn’t look like he will be good to go by Sunday. The talented yet oft-injured wideout missed five games in 2019 due to injury and can never seem to avoid the injury bug. First-round pick rookie wideout Jalen Reagor looked to be a week away from playing, but was a surprise ‘Full Participant” in Thursday’s practice. Look for Wentz to rely heavily on Ertz and Goedert towards the middle of the field.
Home Field Advantage
What home field advantage? Fans? Nope, its 2020.
It’s the first game of the Ron Rivera era. Washington brings with them a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator, and a new defensive coordinator. Usually these things take time to mesh well. With that being said, this is a divisional game. In both games last year, Washington held a lead at some point in the second half. Rivera is known for his aggressive play-calling, but with that also brings more opportunities for a young quarterback to make mistakes. Haskins will finish the day throwing for about 205 yards, with one touchdown to two turnovers. I predict that Slay will make an immediate impact picking off Haskins in his debut. On the other side of the ball, I can see Wentz running for his life. However, Wentz is healthy at the moment, and when he is, he’s a top 10 player at his position. I expect Ertz to have a huge day, and Jackson to burn Darby at least once for a touchdown. I believe the Eagles will take this game 30-17.