At 5-1, the Philadelphia Eagles head into tonight’s match up against the Washington Redskins as proud owners of the best record in the NFL, and the odds-on favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. They’ve come a long way from losing nien of 11 in the midst of last season’s 7-9 campaign, and they’ve done it thanks to the reemergence of Carson Wentz. The Redskins, on the other hand, are struggling to keep their heads above water, despite another Pro Bowl-caliber season from Kirk Cousins.
The Washington Redskins managed to stay just a step ahead of the 49ers last week, holding on for a 26-24 victory that brought their record to 3-2. Kirk Cousins again lived up to his franchise tag, completing 25 of 37 for 330 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while also running for a third score. But beating the 0-6 49ers hardly stands as an achievement.
Cousins is sixth in the league with 266.8 yards-per-goal, is sixth in completion percentage, and his 106.4 rating is third best in the NFL. Meanwhile, the offense has gotten a big boost from running back Chris Thompson, who’s developed into a deep threat as a receiver, averaging 18.9 yards per catch, while also gaining 4.9 yards on 36 carries. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan continues to wreak havoc for opposing offenses, as he’s on pace for another 10-sack season, and this year scored his first touchdown since 2012. Washington’s secondary has given up just 228 passing yards a game, but will again be without the services of Josh Norman, who has a fractured rib that’s causing some lung discomfort.
As 3-2 teams go, Washington has to feel pretty good about themselves, as their only losses have come against the 5-2 Chiefs and the 5-1 Eagles.
The Eagles opened the season with a 30-17 defeat of Washington, lost the following week to – you guessed it – the Chiefs and haven’t lost since, thanks to the rebirth of the mighty Wentz Wagon. Head coach Doug Pederson has Carson Wentz slinging the pigskin all over the place with Wentz connecting just 60.9% of the time, a lowly 25th spot in the NFL. But when he finds his man, good things happen. He’s second in touchdowns, fifth in yards, sixth in interception percentages, and fifth in yards per catch. Tight end Zach Ertz is on pace to set career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns. LeGarrette Blount, who scored 18 touchdowns for the Pats last season, isn’t finding the end zone like he did last year, but he’s averaging a career-best 5.6 yards a carry, and is on pace for a second consecutive 1000-yard season, ably filling the whole left in Philly’s running game by Darren Sproles’ blown ACL in week three. Two-time Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox is making hay on the defense with two-and-a-half sacks, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown to lead a unit that is tied for fourth in the NFL with 11 forced turnovers. The Eagles’ secondary features three cornerbacks – Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, and Rasul Douglas – with two interceptions apiece, though they maybe gamble a little too much as they’ve given up 1641 yards, third most in the league.
Kirk Cousins should have a fine time attacking Philly’s dangerous but susceptible secondary. The big question is who will come out on top of the battle between Wentz and the depleted Washington secondary? But the Eagles beat the Redskins in almost every facet of the game just over a month ago, there’s little reason to think things will be much different this week.
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