By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
It’s finally here. Week one of the regular season has already kicked off, and the Birds will begin their quest for the franchise’s second Super Bowl (man that felt good to say) this Sunday. We are so close to watching Carson Wentz drop 60-yard dimes to DeSean Jackson, Fletcher Cox bully offensive lineman and punish opposing quarterbacks, Merrill Reese give us memorable calls and Jason Peters having his inevitable half-second too early false start.
The Birds open up the season at home against a divisional foe in the Washington Redskins. Zach Ertz expects the Linc to be rocking, “I expect a playoff atmosphere, and I’m sure our fans won’t let me down.”
Zach Ertz on season opener at Linc— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) September 5, 2019
“We’ve been busting our butt for 5 months. We’ve got a bad taste in our mouth from last year in the playoffs against the Saints”
“I expect a playoff atmosphere. I’m sure our fans won’t let me down”#Eagles pic.twitter.com/4rA4p4ONyp
Folks, if that doesn’t have you ready to run straight through a brick wall all the way down Broad Street and into the Linc screaming “Go Birds” at the top of your lungs, then you are simply not rooting for the right team. This Eagles team has that special feeling to it. We’ve been hearing about them and analyzing them all offseason, now it’s time to see them prove it on the field.
Eagles Offense vs. Redskins Defense
Simply put, Carson Wentz, Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Alshon Jeffrey, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert form one of the most dangerous skill position groups the league has to offer. Oh, and the offensive line is littered with depth and experience, matched with the perfect amount of youth.
Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson will start this weekend for certain. The right guard position will be determined by Brandon Brooks’ availability. It is looking like Brooks is going to be ready to go, as he wasn't even listed as questionable on Friday's injury report. What an incredible recovery for Brooks, who suffered a torn achilles in mid-January.
As for the Redskins defense, that unit is probably the strength of their team. Their defensive line is young and raw, but extremely talented. They are lead by Alabama standouts Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. The linebacking corps is solid and filled with veteran leadership such as Jon Bostic and notorious Eagle-killer Ryan Kerrigan. Their secondary is well above-average, boasting big names such as Josh Norman and free-agent signing Landon Collins.
Expect the Eagles to run the ball early to set up the play-action passing game. Zach Ertz should get his usual double-digit targets, as the Redskins have consistently had trouble covering Ertz in past match-ups.
Even remembering the regular season finale last season against Washington, the Eagles attacked the middle of the field like there was no such thing as a sideline. Nick Foles, who started in place of Wentz, torched the Redskins defense to the tune of 25 straight completions, tying the NFL record for consecutive completions.
While I don’t expect the Eagles offense to break any records this week, I definitely give them the advantage over the Redskins defense. I expect Washington’s defense to play well enough to keep them in the game, but they won’t hold Doug Pederson’s offense down long enough to win the game.
Eagles Defense vs. Redskins Offense
The Eagles defensive line is easily one of the best in the league. With it looking more and more like Derek Barnett is going to be able to play, the Birds starting line-up will include him as well as Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and new addition Malik Jackson.
Nigel Bradham is back after not playing all preseason. Doug Pederson confirmed that he will play this weekend and will not face any suspensions for skipping the Eagles final preseason game. Former Redskin Zach Brown will start at one of the other linebacker spots. I expect Nathan Gerry to get the other starting position with Kamu Grugier-Hill still nursing a leg injury.
The Eagles secondary brings back defensive captain Malcolm Jenkins. We will also see the return of Rodney McLeod at the safety position after suffering a torn ACL last season. With Jalen Mills out at least the first six weeks of the season, Pederson said that the starters this week will be Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones on the outside, with Avonte Maddox in the slot. As has been the case the last couple of seasons, the cornerback position will be the weakness of the defensive unit.
The Redskins offense is, to put it nicely, not great. They will be led by journeyman quarterback Case Keenum. Keenum has been the poster-child for inconsistency as an NFL quarterback, as he had a great 2017 season with Minnesota, but a horrible year last season with Denver. The Redskins are Keenum’s fourth different team in four years. You never know which Case Keenum you're going to see from week-to-week. It’s also worth mentioning that Keenum’s last game in Philadelphia was the 2017 NFC championship. You may remember that game.
We welcome Case Keenum back to Lincoln Financial Field this Sunday!! Throw it back to the NFC Championship game 2 years ago. The loudest I've ever heard the Linc! #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/hikhvHll4R— Phans of Philly (@PhansofPhilly) September 5, 2019
The Redskins receiving corps is led by Paul Richardson Jr., Trey Quinn and the often injured Jordan Reed. Reed has been limited in practice this week with a concussion, but with his injury history, you probably could have guessed that. Not the best unit in the league, to say the least.
The Redskins running backs are lead by a past-his-prime Adrian Peterson, but he is still more than capable of running between the tackles. LSU product Derrius Guice, who missed all of his rookie season with a torn ACL, will make his NFL debut Sunday. Chris Thompson should see time in his usual role as a third-down back, assuming he stays healthy throughout the game. It’s worth mentioning the Redskins also have former Eagle Wendell Smallwood.
The Redskins offensive line is questionable to say the least. With starting left tackle Trent Williams continuing his holdout, the Redskins will trot out 36-year old Donald Penn at left tackle. To his right is former disgruntled New York Giant Ereck Flowers. Expect the Eagles defensive line to dominate that side of the line. Redskins right guard Brandon Scherff is very good, but he can’t play all five offensive line positions.
RELATED READING: Injury Report: Redskins at Eagles
The Eagles are just too talented of a team to lose this game. They hold the advantage over Washington in just about every single facet of the game: offense, defense and special teams. I would be flabbergasted if the Redskins came into Philadelphia with this squad and left with a win. Eagles win, 31-17, and DeSean Jackson has a 50+ yard touchdown. I’m speaking it into existence.
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Radio: 94.1 FM WIP
Online: NFL Gamepass