The NFC East is kicking off the first week of the NFL regular season with a bang. The Washington Redskins will travel to face off against its divisional rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, before the Dallas Cowboys welcome the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon.
The Redskins started the 2018 season with an impressive 5-2 record, but only won two of their remaining nine games on the schedule to finish 7-9.
The Eagles, on the other hand, won five of their last six games in the regular season. Then, they went on to defeat the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card Round before losing 20-14 to the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round.
Washington at Philadelphia
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Spread: Philadelphia -10
Three Things to Watch
1. Carry distribution for the Eagles
Philadelphia completely overhauled its running back group during the offseason. First, the team made a trade for former Bears running back Jordan Howard. As if that wasn’t enough, general manager Howie Roseman decided to also add Miles Sanders, a Penn State product, in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
With third-year player Corey Clement and seasoned-veteran Darren Sproles also on the roster, it’ll be interesting to see how the distribution of carries plays out against the Redskins on Sunday.
Sanders is clearly the most talented running back on the roster, but will he struggle to get carries in his debut like fellow rookie David Montgomery (six carries, 18 yards) did for the Bears? If so, look for Howard to be beneficiary in that scenario.
2. The playing status of Trent Williams
At this point, we have no idea where things stand with Washington’s front office and the team’s star left tackle. On Friday, it was reported that Williams was in Washington meeting with teammates ahead of Sunday’s game.
But even if he were to suit up – and that’s highly unlikely – it would not be fair to expect
him to play at a high level considering he’s been away throughout the offseason and missed all of training camp.
The Eagles have a fearful group of defensive linemen, including Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Brandon Graham, and Derek Barnett, that will welcome a subpar Redskins offensive line to Philadelphia.
Veteran journeyman Case Keenum will get the start at quarterback for Washington over rookie first-round pick Dwayne Haskins. But is that because Haskins isn’t ready or because the coaching staff knows what’s coming on Sunday? Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
3. DeSean Jackson versus his former team
Jackson was originally drafted by the Eagles in the second round in 2008. The University of California product spent six seasons with the team, racking up 6,117 receiving yards and 32 touchdowns, before being released following the 2013 season.
Jackson eventually ended up in Washington and spent three seasons with the franchise before spending the last two with Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay. Now, Jackson has returned to Philadelphia to finish out his career.
It will be interesting to see if there is any added motivation for the 32-year-old receiver playing against his former team. But either way, expect him to be a much-needed vertical threat for Carson Wentz and in this Eagles offense.
The spread on this game sits at minus-10 for the Eagles. While that may seem like a lot for an NFL game, it’s a warranted number considering all the question marks surrounding Washington’s offense.
All the new additions for the Redskins, especially on defense, should help them keep the Eagles in check for part of the game. But there is way too much talent across the board for head coach Doug Pederson’s team to be slowed down for four quarters.
This one ends up being a blowout before it’s all said and done.
Prediction: Eagles 28, Redskins 6
— Written by Clint Lamb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ClintRLamb.