September 09, 2017
It's here. Football. Real football. The kind that actually counts.
And it's about damn time.
On Sunday, the Eagles will open their 2017 schedule at FedEx Field against the Washington Redskins. We've already made our picks, offered up some matchups to watch and given you the latest injury info. Now, it's time for some over/unders.
This week, I'm writing these from the Poconos. I'm there for my cousin Joe's bachelor party – Meg, if you're reading this, we're all on our best behavior – so I decided to let him help me with some of the picks. Hopefully, he doesn't make me look bad, although I'm not sure it's possible to make me look any worse after some questionable preseason over/unders.
But that was the preseason. They don't count, right?
That's what I thought.
That’s the current total being offered over at Bovada, and given the recent history between these two teams, it seems about right. Actually, it might be a little low. Their last eight meetings have averaged slightly over 54 points per game. In their two matchups last season, they averaged 48 points (47 in the first game, 49 in the second).
In the offseason, the Eagles offense improved. And the Redskins offense, well, it seems like they’ve regressed slightly – not to mention the fact that Kirk Cousins hasn’t been a model of consistency in his career. Still, he’s played well at home, especially against the Birds. In five career games vs. Philly, Cousins is 4-1 with 1,579 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions (102.9 passer rating). His four wins and 12 TDs are his most against any one opponent.
I also predicted a 27-23 Eagles’ win in our predictions, so I’m sticking with that number.
In their two meetings last year, the Redskins sacked Carson Wentz a total of nine times. It was bad. It also happened to be two of the 10 games for which Lane Johnson was suspended. He’ll be out there on Sunday, but will that be enough to keep the second-year quarterback upright?
I asked the groom-to-be what he thought about this one, and he said take the over. His thought process was simple: While he sees Wentz facing less pressure in this one, he also thinks there could be a few times when Wentz struggles to find a receiver and ultimately takes a coverage sack. He’s not easy to bring to down if he can see you coming, but it’s certainly a possibility.
I was torn on this one, so I’m going to side with my cousin. And part of the reason is that the Eagles will have to make the Redskins respect their run game in order to avoid some of those coverage sacks. And nothing we’ve seen in the preseason suggests that will be the case. Oh, and the offensive line didn’t look all that great either.
Speaking of the Eagles quarterback…
In his rookie season, Wentz posted a 79.3 passer rating. In two games against Washington, he was slightly better (83.8). I really want to take the over here, but given the sack number above and the fact that it’s a season opener on the road, I’m leaning towards the under. He only managed one passing TD in his two games against the Redskins, and that came in the second matchup at the link. At FedEx Field, he only threw the ball 22 times (11 completions). I don’t think it’ll be that bad, but I don’t think it’ll be quite as good as his start to his career – he posted a 103.5 passer rating through his first four games.
This one comes specifically at the request of the groom. He picked the topic; he set the line.
We still don’t really know how many snaps Barnett will get this season, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz suggested recently that he would rotate through his defensive ends quite a bit and the fact that one is starting over another doesn’t mean there will be a sharp drop-off in playing time between first- and second-string.
Barnett looked great in the preseason, and getting to the quarterback is his specialty. A sack and a tackle-for-loss would be a great way to start his Eagles career.
One of the reasons the Eagles were unable to beat the Redskins last season was because of an inability to create turnovers, something they showed quite a knack for against the other teams on their schedule. They averaged nearly two per game against teams not from Washington, but just one per game against the ’Skins. If they want to win this one, they’ll need to win the turnover battle.
If their play in the preseason was any indication, I think they’ll hit the over. Put me down for a Ronald Darby interception and a Brandon Graham forced fumble.
These two teams DO NOT LIKE EACH OTHER.
In case you forgot, this is what happened the last time they met…
That’s just the latest in a long line of in-game fights between this two teams – remember Chris Baker vs. Jason Peters? Baker is in Tampa, but the hate between these teams remains strong.
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