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.
In addition to the traditional “5 questions with the Enemy” posts that went up this week on Hogs Haven and on Bleeding Green Nation, Brandon Lee Gowton (of BGN) and I agreed to swap “Why my team will lose” posts ahead of Sunday’s game.
Brandon’s analysis of his team’s weaknesses is printed here in this article; if you’d like to see what I wrote about the Redskins, that article has been posted at BGN.
I hope you enjoy this look inside the mind of a BGN writer coming clean about what will happen to his favorite team this Sunday.
BiB: So, Brandon, I’m interested in your thoughts. I’m looking for three reasons why Philly will lose to the Redskins this week. How about you give us one reason why the Philadelphia offense will lose the game, one reason for the defense, and one “x-factor”?
Wow! This is a challenge. Let me see...
Offensively, I’d start with the Eagles’ offensive line pass blocking against the Washington defense — especially Ryan Kerrigan and Junior Gallette.
Pro Football Focus released a list of offensive line rankings this offseason that had the Eagles pegged as the best offensive line in the NFL. While it’s certainly possible their offensive line will be good, it didn’t look so great in the preseason. The blockers allowed too much pressure on Carson Wentz and couldn’t get much push in the run game.
Doug Pederson has maintained the line will look better when the Eagles start to actually game plan for their opponents. We’ll see.
Even with a game plan in place, though, Ryan Kerrigan is still a terror for the Eagles to block. He’s been an Eagles killer throughout his career; he has 46 total tackles and 9.5 sacks in 12 career games against Philly.
The good news for the Eagles is that they’ll have Lane Johnson at right tackle instead of backups Halapoulivaati Vaitai or Matt Tobin, who started against Washington last season.
The bad news is that the Eagles’ run game could still suffer regardless of the line. The Eagles just don’t have a lot of threatening talent in the backfield. LeGarrette Blount looked a little sluggish in the preseason. Darren Sproles is great but he’s not a full-time lead back. Wendell Smallwood still has a lot to prove.
This could be another game (and season) where the Eagles really have to rely on Wentz’s arm a lot. That means more pass rush opportunities for Kerrigan and Galette.
Kirk Cousins loves saving his best games for the Eagles.
The Washington quarterback is 4-1 in five games against Philly. He’s completed 63.6% of his passes for 1,579 yards, 12 touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 102.9 passer rating.
Part of the reason he’s had so much success is because the Eagles haven’t been able to pressure him. The Cowboys’ offensive line gets a ton of hype (too much at times) but Washington’s offensive line might be more formidable.
The Eagles upgraded their defensive line this offseason; we’ll see if that makes a difference. If it doesn’t, Cousins will have a ton of time to throw and that’s not great for the Eagles because their cornerbacks clearly aren’t the strength of Jim Schwartz’s defense.
Ronald Darby projects to be a good starter, but he’s not without his faults. Jalen Mills has shown improvement but is still vulnerable to getting beat deep due to a lack of long speed.
Cousins could very well have another big game against the Eagles’ defense.
The Eagles just can’t seem to solve Washington.
It’s been nearly three years — three years! — since the Eagles last beat Jay Gruden’s team. There have been a number of close battles since then, but the Eagles just haven’t been able to win a close one. Until they do it, it’s difficult to believe they will. Washington just has the Eagles’ number right now.
Playing in Washington could prove to be even more difficult. The Birds haven’t won there since Chip Kelly’s NFL debut all the way back in Week 1 of the 2013 season.
BiB: I want to thank Brandon for his brutal honesty, and I sincerely hope that he’s right about all the things that could go wrong for his Philadelphia Eagles.
I, for one, am looking forward to another great injury-free game in one of the longest-running rivalries in the NFL.
And — oh yeah — HTTR!
Who gets the most sacks against the Eagles on Sunday?
This poll is closed
an inside linebacker
a defensive tackle