EAGLES VS. REDSKINS
SUNDAY, 1 P.M. ET, FEDEXFIELD, LANDOVER, MD. uTV: FOX, DIRECTV 710
Announcers: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink
About the Eagles: After a disappointing last-place finish in the NFC East last season, the Eagles open 2017 with high hopes of pushing their way into the postseason. That’s based on two things: a potentially championshipcaliber defense, led by DT and S
and two big-time additions to the offense, WRs and Jeffery and Smith give QB the kinds of targets he didn’t have last season — tall, reliable and able to fight for tough catches in traffic (Jeffery), and a speedy long-ball hitter (Smith).
Here we go again — QB playing for a contract, the running game a mess, questions about the defense. It’s the Redskins’ usual turmoil. And yet Cousins is coming off a franchise-record 4,917-yard passing season, LT leads a strong and stable offensive line, is a big play waiting to
is a top-of-the-line WR happen, CB defensive playmaker, OLB has put up 34 sacks over the last three seasons … and Washington is a legitimate playoff contender.
These two have more in common than just a first name. Both are spectacularly athletic playmakers who are among the elite at their positions. Hicks’ five interceptions and 11 pass breakups last season led the NFL for his position. That makes for a juicy duel over the middle with Reed, whose speed and skills make him a mismatch for most defenders. Eagles QB Carson Wentz will try to avoid the sophomore slump in 2017.
He hasn’t played a game that counts since ringing up his second consecutive season of double-figure sacks for New Orleans in 2014, having missed the last two seasons because of separate Achilles tendon injuries since signing with Washington. In his only preseason appearance, Galette was able to get pressure and a quarterback hit, giving a hint that there is a lot more to come.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
Wentz, coming off an up-and-down rookie season, showed signs in the preseason that he has taken several steps in the right direction. In three appearances, Wentz completed 69.6% of his passes and averaged a hefty 10.5 yards per attempt in ringing up a 125.2 rating. It’s a small sample size, but it’s a far better than his 2016 numbers — 62.4%, 6.2 yards per attempt and a 79.3 rating.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Cool Cousins: Washington’s fortunes are directly tied to those of Cousins, whose constant battle for recognition and neverending contract issues have made him a lightning rod. When he keeps his poise, the Redskins are dangerous.
Redskins C status is uncertain as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery, which could shove rookie into the lineup right away. That’s a scary thought with Cox and DT Tim Jernigan rushing the passer.
3. Cornered market: The Eagles addressed a major deficiency by acquiring CB
from Buffalo to be their No. 1 cover corner. He had stunning success as a rookie in 2015, but last season not so much.
4. Something special: Philly has finished atop the NFL special-teams rankings two of the last three seasons — including 2016. Special-teams play gives the Eagles a significant advantage in field position, and they’ve been known to take the ball to the house, too, scoring eight return TDs in the last three years.