Eagles vs. Washington Game Predictions: Three-and-out
The Philadelphia Eagles play the Washington Redskins on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Here’s how we expect the game to unfold.
EAGLES PLAYER I’LL BE WATCHING
BLG: Paul Turner.
The fact that Turner is one of the Eagles’ most intriguing players at this point tells you a lot about the state of this roster.
But it’s hard not to want to see more of Turner after he put up some solid numbers last week. In just his second NFL game, Turner was targeted eight times. He finished with six receptions for 80 yards (13.3 yards per reception), including a 41-yard catch. Turner has already accounted for 14% of Nelson Agholor’s career yardage despite only playing 64 snaps this season.
The Eagles might give Turner more opportunities this week with Dorial Green-Beckham being ruled questionable to play on Sunday. If DGB can’t suit up, the Eagles could look to use Jordan Matthews, who is also questionable, on the outside more with Turner working in the slot.
Asked earlier this week if the Eagles continue to play Turner even with Matthews coming back, Doug Pederson said they do.
“There are [opportunities for Turner], there are,” said Pederson. “And these are things we talked about the last couple of days as a staff getting Paul in there, even with Jordan coming back. I think it can be a benefit to the offense to have both of those guys ready to go.”
With the Eagles likely out of playoff contention, the interest shifts to evaluating young players who have the potential to be contributors moving forward. It will be interesting to see if Turner can continue to build on what he’s done so far.
There’s reason to believe Turner can have some success in the slot this Sunday. Matthews had three catches for 75 yards against Washington working over the middle of the field earlier this season.
Josh: Ryan Mathews.
The running back is expected to play in his first game since injuring his knee three weeks ago, and although he hasn’t been praised much, he has quietly put together a pretty good season. He ranks 14th in the NFL in yards per carry (4.2) among “qualified” rushers, and he’s tied for eighth in touchdowns.
Mathews is one of only three NFL running backs who have had five seasons with at least six rushing touchdowns since 2010, and he ranks first among Eagles running backs this season in yards per carry after contact (2.59), per Pro Football Focus. When Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was asked about the Eagles’ declining play, he noted that the Birds are “different” without Mathews.
“He’s definitely a bigger back,” Pederson said. “He’s a little bit more between the tackles and has that veteran experience that you see out of him. It will be good to get him back out on the field Sunday and get him some more work.
“It’s really important [to establish the run]. You want to go into every game and try to get that running game going and get it off the ground. That’s something we’re going to try to focus on this week.”
Eagles running backs are averaging just 39 yards per game in the last two weeks on 2.8 yards per carry, as they’ve struggled to get their ground attack going. Washington has the fourth-worst rushing defense in the NFL, allowing 4.6 yards per carry, so this is probably the ideal week for Pederson to get back to running the ball more.
OVER/UNDER: 100 passer rating for Kirk Cousins — Whaddya got?
After holding Matt Ryan, who ranked second in the league at the time, to a 78.7 passer rating in Week 10, the Eagles have allowed an average passer rating of 114.8 in their last three games. Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, and even Andy Dalton all had their way against Philadelphia’s struggling defense.
The bad news for Philadelphia is they’re about to face a quarterback who has fared quite well against them. Cousins owns a 101.3 rating when playing the Eagles.
Washington could be primed for a big day against Jim Schwartz’s unit. Their offense ranks second in yards per game at 418.6. The Eagles have surrendered an average of 412.7 yards in their last three games. Washington’s passing attack could prove to be too much for the Eagles to handle, especially if Jordan Reed plays this week. The talented tight end missed the first Eagles-Washington game earlier this season.
Josh: I’ll also take the over.
Cousins had a passer rating of just 85.8 when these two teams first met, but he’s been playing better as the season has gone on. He’s tallied a passer rating of at least 110.9 in three of his last four games, and as BLG mentioned, he’s facing a secondary that has struggled mightily over the last few weeks.
The Eagles’ three outside corners — Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin and Jalen Mills — each gave up a passer rating of at least 109.7 against the Bengals (per Pro Football Focus), and there’s little reason to believe they’ll be significantly better against a superior passing attack.
BLG: Washington 31, Eagles 17
The Eagles haven’t beaten Washington since Week 3 of the 2014 season. The feeling here is the Eagles won’t break their losing streak this weekend.
Philadelphia’s defense has struggled too much lately to have any faith in them. The pass rush has dried up and the cornerbacks can’t cover. Add in the fact that Washington has a top-ranked offense and it’s easy to think things could get ugly for the Birds.
Washington’s defense isn’t so great that the Eagles won’t be able to have some success against them. Then again, Washington did a great job of getting pressure against Philadelphia earlier this season. Wentz got sacked five times and hit 12 times. Even if Wentz gets time to throw, he still lacks ideal weapons to work with.
Perhaps the Eagles will surprise everyone and come out with increased energy after the players’ effort was questioned by Pederson earlier this week. Pederson sure better hope so, because his job might not be as secure as he thinks it is if his players end up quitting on him.
Eagles fans can arguably look at this game as a win-win for the team. If the Birds beat Washington, they can make it harder for their NFC East rival to make the playoffs. If the Eagles lose, however, Washington will remain ahead of the Vikings in the playoff picture, which is good news regarding the 2017 first-round draft pick Minnesota owes to Philadelphia.
Josh: Washington 24, Eagles 16
I haven’t exactly been Nostradamus this season when it comes to picking games, but there aren’t many teams I’d pick the Eagles to beat right now after the shellacking the Birds took in Cincinnati. They’re playing a division rival at home for the first time this season, but it’s tough for me to have confidence in a group that was unable to come out with great energy last week when they were only 1.5 games out of the playoff hunt with five weeks remaining in the season.
As informative as statistics can be, I think much of this game will come down to what kind of energy the Eagles bring to the table. Washington is playing for a postseason bid, so if the Birds come out flat once again, the game could be over before it really gets started.