The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
Brandon Lee Gowton is a writer at Bleeding Green Nation. He and I agreed to swap articles in which we would each explain why our favorite team would lose to the opponent in the upcoming Monday Night Football game between the Redskins and Philadelphia.
If you want to see what I wrote, you can read it on the BGN site.
What follows are three reasons why the Philadelphia team will lose to the Redskins, as told by one of their own.
WHY THE EAGLES WILL LOSE
Just because the Eagles defeated Washington in Week 1 doesn’t mean this game is a guaranteed win for Philly. I expect Monday night’s battle to be a close, hard-fought affair. There’s a lot on the line for both teams. A Washington win keeps them alive in the NFC East. An Eagles win, however, could essentially wrap up the division as early as Week 7.
It’s hard to find a lot of concerns with the Eagles’ offense right now. Carson Wentz is a legitimate MVP candidate. The receivers are getting open and making plays. The offensive line is blocking well. The run game is looking effective and efficient.
One concern about this week’s game, however, is the challenge that Washington’s run defense provides. Greg Manusky’s unit held the Eagles to their worst rushing performance of the season in Week One: 58 yards on 24 attempts. For context, their next worst rushing performance was “only" 101 yards.
The Eagles’ offense has been most successful when it’s been balanced. Wentz is capable of making big plays with his arm, yes, but it’d be ideal for him to get some help from the ground game as well. LeGarrette Blount has been running like a man possessed recently. He’s averaging 4.9 yards per carry AFTER contact this season, per Pro Football Focus. Only eight running backs have 4.9 yards per carry in general. Washington didn’t really let Blount get going earlier this season. He averaged 3.3 yards per carry that day.
I’m a little concerned about the Eagles getting too one dimensional in this game. They can’t let that happen because then Ryan Kerrigan will have a chance to tee off. Kerrigan seems to always show up big in Eagles-Washington games; he a had a pick-six in Week 1. Philadelphia really needs RT Lane Johnson to be able to neutralize Kerrigan the best he can.
Despite lacking optimal cornerback talent, the Eagles’ secondary hasn’t been disastrous this season. Jim Schwartz’s defense ranks 8th in terms of fewest big plays allowed. The Eagles have been able to generate pressure with their front four in order to make life easier on the back end of their defense.
With that said, I can’t help but think back to when I felt nervous every time Kirk Cousins took a deep shot in Week 1. The Eagles were fortunate that Cousins was either overthrowing his targets or the wide receivers were dropping the passes thrown their way.
The Eagles needed a really dominant performance from their defensive line to beat Washington in the season opener. I think they’re capable of doing that again, but it’s not a small ask, especially going up against one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. Washington is tied for 8th in adjusted sack rate this season, according to Football Outsiders.
We all know that Cousins has had the Eagles’ number in the past. There’s always the concern he could have another big performance against the Eagles’ secondary, especially if Philly’s pressure is unable to get to him in time.
As far as players are concerned, I think Chris Thompson is the X-factor for Washington in this game. The Eagles need to do a much better job of limiting his big play ability in this matchup. That touchdown he had in Week 1 featured some absolutely abhorrent tackling from the Birds. Thompson is the kind of player who will make you pay for sloppy mistakes like that.
Another X-factor in this matchup is Washington’s desperation level. They need this game a lot more badly than the Eagles do. Philly’s players have done and said all the right things this week when it’s come to addressing complacency. One player said the team is preparing for Monday night like it’s a conference championship game. Wentz said the Eagles can’t afford to settle for less than greatness.
All of that leads me to believe the Eagles aren’t bound for a letdown in this one (I obviously just jinxed it now), but I don’t think it’s going to be a walk in the park for the Birds. This is really going to be a tough divisional battle.
It should be a good game.
How many rushing yards will Philadelphia get on Monday night against Greg Manusky’s defense?
This poll is closed
less than 50
more than 150