Three-And-Out: Eagles-Washington Predictions
After their first win of the season, the Eagles will try to make it two in a row against Washington Sunday. Tim and Josh discuss who to keep an eye on, who will win and more.
PLAYER I’LL BE WATCHING
Paunil: Bennie Logan
The biggest matchup Sunday will be the Redskins’ rushing attack versus the Eagles’ front seven. Washington ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (143.7), while Philadelphia stops the run better than any team in the league. The Redskins topped 160 rushing yards in their first two games, while the Eagles haven’t given up 110 rushing yards in a contest.
Which unit will come out on top?
One key battle will be Logan versus Washington center Korey Lichtensteiger. Logan has played at a high level through three games, while Lichtensteiger ranks as the worst center in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Although the Redskins rely on their stretch plays, they also like to run the ball up the middle. Both of their key running backs — Alfred Morris and Matt Jones — rank in the top-15 in the NFL in rushing and are one-cut ball-carriers.
However, if Logan can clog the middle and disrupt their running lanes, he could help make Washington one-dimensional. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins hasn’t impressed so far, so if he has to make a lot of good throws to win the game, that’d be a big advantage for the Eagles.
McManus: Brandon Graham
It’s been a slow start for Graham, at least statistically speaking. Taking over the starting role for the departed Trent Cole, Graham has yet to post a sack and has just one hurry through three games according to stats kept by the team.
Circumstances need to be considered. The Falcons played max protect which made it very difficult on the pass rushers to generate pressure, and last week’s game plan took into account that Ryan Fitzpatrick typically has a quick trigger.
That said, Billy Davis is going to need more production out of Graham going forward. Given the lack of depth at outside linebacker and with the defensive front often asked to two-gap, it falls largely on Graham and Connor Barwin to get to the quarterback. Barwin, for comparison’s sake, has two sacks and three hurries on the young season.
OVER/UNDER: 250 passing yards for Sam Bradford — Whaddya got?
He’s averaging 226 passing yards per game, and although he’s actually regressed each week in this category, he’s facing a below average secondary without DeAngelo Hall. If there’s one team you’d pick for the offense to break out against, Washington is near the top of the list.
Although the receivers don’t always create a ton of separation, Bradford will certainly have his opportunities. Plus, Lane Johnson said the Eagles will unveil a lot of new things on Sunday. If that holds true, I bet Bradford completes his first throw of more than 20 yards this season.
The current forecast for Sunday in D.C. is 66 degrees with a 20 percent chance showers and winds from 15-to-25 miles per hour. Much better than it once was, that’s for sure. Both teams should be able to go to the air some if this projection holds up.
But conditions haven’t been the issue for Bradford. Spotty accuracy, drops, a sub-par ground game and lack of separation by the receivers have been his downfall to date. I expect things to gradually improve moving forward and wouldn’t be shocked at all if he goes over 250, but I’m in full-out prove-it mode when it comes to No. 7.
Paunil: Eagles 21, Redskins 14
Although I wouldn’t be surprised by a couple of big plays on offense, I see this game playing out similar to the Jets game. Neither team looked great last Sunday, and neither team will have to be great this Sunday. Sometimes, it’s about which team isn’t worse, and I anticipate that team being the Eagles.
I expect Logan and the front seven to hold the Redskins to no more than four yards per carry, and the secondary to limit Washington’s deep balls. I also think you’ll see a big play from Philadelphia’s punt return unit after what Seyi Ajirotutu said. My favorite part of that discussion? When I asked if “sporadic” was a politically correct term for “bad,” he smiled and didn’t answer.
McManus: Eagles 23, Washington 13
The defense is the top unit on this team currently, especially now that the secondary appears to be rounding into form. If the offense continues to sputter, a storyline moving forward will be whether Chip Kelly is willing to adjust his approach on offense (particularly as it applies to tempo) to cater more to the strength of this team. (We did see him slow it down against the Jets, but that was more about identifying Todd Bowles‘ blitzes and nursing a lead than it was a philosophical shift.)
For this week, the defense should be able to carry the day either way. I’m banking on the front seven slowing down a pretty good ground game and the DBs coming up with a pair of picks on Cousins. And I agree with you, Josh: I think special teams makes a big play for the second straight week, though I’ll say it comes on kick return.