Eagles vs. Redskins: Three Numbers That Matter

Will the Eagles be able to protect Carson Wentz?

Carson Wentz. (USA Today Sports)

Carson Wentz. (USA Today Sports)

Here’s a look at three numbers that matter as the Philadelphia Eagles prepare to play the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

418.6 – Washington’s offense ranks second in the NFL in yards per game.

Washington’s offense also ranks 10th in points per game (25.2).

The Eagles’ defense did a nice job of keeping the Falcons’ top-ranked offense quiet back in early November. Since then, however, Jim Schwartz’s unit has really struggled.

The Eagles have allowed an average of 28.3 points and 412.7 yards in their last three games. Washington’s offense could be gearing up for a big day on Sunday.

Kirk Cousins has typically fared really well against the Eagles. The 28-year-old passer’s career splits against Philadelphia: 110 of 174 (63.2%) for 1,345 yards (7.7 yards/attempt), 10 TD, 2 INT, and a 101.3 passer rating. The Eagles’ defense failed to get much pressure on Cousins the last time these two teams met in Week 6. Cousins wasn’t sacked once and he was only hit twice. The Eagles’ pass rush hasn’t had much success lately, so that’s not an encouraging sign for Philadelphia.

It’s not just Washington’s passing attack that the Eagles have to worry about. Washington ran all over Schwartz’s defense for a total of 230 yards on just 33 attempts (7.0 yards/attempt) earlier this year. Matt Jones, who ran for 135 against the Eagles, has recently been a healthy scratch for Washington. Expect to see more of Robert Kelly this weekend. He ran for 59 yards on just five attempts during the first matchup between these teams.

Prior to the Eagles-Packers game, Philadelphia’s defense had been playing very well at home. Schwartz’s unit had allowed an average of only 9.5 points in the Eagles’ first four home games. Maybe the Birds can recapture that magic, but I wouldn’t count on it. The Eagles have really struggled recently and Washington has had their number since the end of the 2014 season. Sunday could be a big day for Cousins and company. DeSean Jackson could be looking to make another strong impression on the team he reportedly has interested in signing with this offseason.

17 – Combined sacks and hits the Eagles allowed on Carson Wentz in Week 6.

Wentz really got banged around in the first Washington game. Rookie offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai was making his first NFL career start and it showed. The young blocker got abused by Ryan Kerrigan.

Big V likely won’t play this week because he’s still hurt. Instead, the Eagles are relying on starting left guard Allen Barbre at right tackle while Stefen Wisniewski continues to fill in on the interior.

Philadelphia’s patchwork offensive line will once again be tested against a Washington pass rush that ranks tied for seventh in sacks per game (2.5).

The Eagles’ offense has gotten too one dimensional in recent weeks. The Birds have relied on throwing the ball too much due to getting behind early in games. Abandoning the run has been made easier by the fact Philadelphia has been missing their leading rusher: Ryan Mathews.

Having Wentz throw 60 times a game clearly isn’t a recipe for success. That much was evident in Philadelphia’s most recent loss to the Bengals. The Eagles will need to rely more upon their rushing attack this week against Washington. Mathews is back at practice so perhaps his return will help restore some functionality to the Eagles’ offense.

5.5% – The Eagles’ playoff odds, per Football Outsiders.

“Playoffs? Playoffs?!”

Yeah, I’m sorry for even bringing it up. Look, the Eagles (probably) aren’t making the playoffs this year. But until they’re mathematically eliminated, they’re still technically alive. They’d need to win out and get a lot of help from other teams losing, which likely won’t happen.

But just because the Eagles are done doesn’t mean these final four games are meaningless. The Eagles can still look to keep their rivals out of the playoffs. Here’s a current look at the NFC playoff picture.

1 – Dallas Cowboys (11-1) – Clinched playoff berth
2 – Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1)
3 – Detroit Lions (8-4)
4 – Atlanta Falcons (7-5)
5 – New York Giants (8-4)
6 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)

7 – Washington Redskins (6-5-1)
8 – Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
9 – Green Bay Packers (6-6)
10 – Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1)
11 – New Orleans Saints (5-7)
12 – Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

The Eagles winning this week would help push Washington further out of the playoff race. Philadelphia fans should also be rooting for the Buccaneers and Packers to potentially eliminate the Giants from the playoffs if New York starts to slide.

There’s a silver lining for the Eagles if they lose this weekend, though. Another win for Washington means they’d stay ahead of the Vikings. Philadelphia obviously owns Minnesota’s 2017 first-round pick due to the Sam Bradford trade, so Eagles fans should want to keep the Vikings away from the playoffs in order to get a more favorable pick.