McManus: Patrick Chung
Early in the season, it almost felt like it didn’t matter who was lining up at safety. Whether it was Nate Allen, Patrick Chung, Earl Wolff, Kurt Coleman or Sheil Kapadia, all seemed to instill an equal amount of confidence — which is to say very little. Wolff, as the coaches routinely reminded us, was making his share of mistakes out there. Credit to the rookie for developing to the point where his absence is felt in the secondary.
With Wolff nursing a knee injury, the Eagles are back to their original pairing of Allen and Chung. Allen is playing really well right now, which is a pleasant surprise. Chung has been in and out of the lineup with a lingering shoulder injury. He says he is feeling much better and the coaching staff didn’t sound too concerned about it. Chung and Allen will be tested by a Redskins team that can beat you in the run game as well as over the top with play action.
Kapadia: Zach Ertz
The rookie played 34 snaps last week, but what’s worth noting is that on 23 of those, he was a run blocker, according to PFF. That was an aspect of Ertz’s game that needed work earlier in the season, and last week it looked like he was making real progress.
As a receiver, he was not targeted against Green Bay. But I doubt that will be the case this week. The Redskins are 20th in the league at covering opposing tight ends, per Football Outsiders. The Eagles, meanwhile, still rank 31st in red-zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns 41.94 percent of the time. Look for Ertz to get free, make an impact in the passing game and maybe even notch his second touchdown.
Prop bet of the week: Nick Foles passing touchdowns — 2 1/2. Whaddya got?
McManus: Let’s go over. Washington is 30th in the NFL in passing yards per attempt (8.3) and 29th in opponent’s completion percentage (66.5). Foles is tops in the league in yards per attempt (9.2) and is averaging over three TDs per game in his four starts this season (Granted, the seven-touchdowns in Oakland help that average.)
Another opportunity for Foles to state his case. The last time he played at the Linc, he had the worst performance of his young pro career. Was that outing a fluke, or something more? Time will tell. Betting he does fine against this defense, though.
Kapadia: I’ll take the over also. You laid out all the reasons pretty clearly, T-Mac.
As we discussed on Birds 24/7 (podcast here!), in the final six games, I’m looking for the one quality Foles possesses that sets him apart. Maybe it’ll be his decision-making or his ability to process information before the snap. I don’t really know. But the information-gathering process continues Sunday at the Linc. And I see no reason why he should have trouble moving the football against this defense.
McManus: Eagles 30, Washington 23
Some injury concerns in this one. Jason Peters (quad) was sidelined this week. Same with Mychal Kendricks (knee) and Wolff (knee). We know Wolff won’t play, and judging by the way Kendricks was moving around the NovaCare Complex, I’d be surprised if he gets the green light. Bradley Fletcher (pec) is an0ther question mark.
The Eagles’ depth will be tested. While the defense will probably take a step back this week, the offense should be able to put up enough points. I trust Allen Barbre will fill in adequately at left tackle if called upon.
Kapadia: Eagles 31, Redskins 30
Happy to say I picked a game right last week. Those cheese curds at Lambeau must have given me a clear mind.
I think the offense is on a nice roll right now, and it’s not as if Foles and company are going up against the ’85 Bears. Kelly kept Jim Haslett and the Redskins off-balance in the opener, and I think that happens again on Sunday.
Defensively, I’ve been impressed with the way the coaches have gotten guys to improve from Week 1 until now. But the Redskins’ offense can be very good when it gets rolling. I think Washington moves the ball effectively, but in the end, the Eagles end the home losing streak, and everyone gets their free Dunkin Donuts coffee on Monday.