The Washington Commanders are coming off a disappointing performance against the Detroit Lions in Week 2, and their next matchup will not make things easy to bounce back from.
The red-hot Philadelphia Eagles are walking into FedEx Field after sweeping the Commanders last season, with a new-and-improved football team on both sides of the ball.
From Jalen Hurts to Jordan Davis, A.J. Brown, and Darius Slay, Philly is for all intents and purposes, the most talented team in the NFC East.
That doesn’t mean Washington will not have a shot at pulling off the upset, but they’d need a game of games from guys like Carson Wentz, and a much-improved game from their secondary in totality. That may be two things to look for in this game, but luckily for you, the viewers, there are three matchups you should keep your eye on this Sunday afternoon. You can check out the odds for this one courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Matchup 1: Scott Turner & Carson Wentz vs. Philly’s Defense
Carson Wentz has been the subject of criticism from just about every angle this offseason. From those questioning his leadership ability to some questioning how mentally “tough” he is. Well, he’ll be able to put those mental questions, those leadership questions to rest with a strong performance against the team that allegedly “broke” Carson Wentz and his former franchise QB trajectory.
Wentz, if he lives up to his potential this Sunday, will get all of the credit in the world. The Eagles' defense ranks 4th in the NFL in dropback EPA, and 13th in dropback success rate. Outlets like Pro Football Focus rank the Philly defense 6th in the NFL through two weeks, and as production has followed the talent on that side of the ball, the stakes just continue to rise as you break down the tape.
Both Scott Turner and Carson Wentz must attack the intermediate passing game if they’re looking to have an efficient passing game against one of the leagues’ best. It’s the bread and butter for both Wentz and the Turner offense, and if Washington is able to attack that 2nd level of the field, the Commanders will easily be able to capitalize on numerous play-action concepts.
Be sure to look out for what Turner and Wentz dial-up after their first 15 scripted plays, and if Washington can eat at the intermediate passing game, the Commanders have a real shot at going 2-1 on Sunday.
Matchup 2: Who will step up on the Defensive Line?
Washington’s defensive line has been hit or miss over the first two weeks. Guys like Jon Allen and Montez Sweat haven’t been as consistent as you’d hope, and Daron Payne has continued to shine in the trenches. The bigger question is, who will step up along that DL outside of #94?
With Casey Toohill and Daniel Wise out, the Commanders must find a piece that can win consistently if they’re looking to slow down Philly’s high-powered offense. Surprisingly, Jalen Hurts has continued to improve as a passer under pressure, so this simply isn’t just a matter of “getting home”.
Equally as important, Washington’s linemen must stay disciplined and rush as one unit, taking away the threat of Hurts’ legs on a consistent basis even if they do in fact win at the line of scrimmage. Washington’s DL must improve from the unit we saw last year, as mobile Quarterbacks took advantage of the Commanders on the ground, and if they’re looking to pull off the upset, they must play as one unit on a consistent basis.
Matchup 3: Washington’s Secondary vs. The Eagles WRs
Coach Nick Sirianni loves to keep things simple for Philly’s offense. Jalen Hurts has attempted nearly 50% of his passes between 0-9 yards, with a clear emphasis on getting the ball out quickly and taking advantage of the litany of athletes along the perimeter.
Washington’s secondary has been abysmal to start this season. With a clear lack of close-out burst and speed, inability to consistently take care of the fundamentals (out-leveraged on a consistent basis), and constant issues with communication, the Commanders must be on their p’s and q’s in order to slow down what Sirianni dials up.
Another thing this secondary struggles with is tackling. From angles to the actual art of tackling itself, if Philadelphia sticks to their gameplan and forces Washington’s DBs to come up and make a tackle, there will be ample opportunity for five-yard passes to turn into 50-yard scores.
This game may come down to effort in the tackling department, and if the Eagles can get out in space with their multitude of high-level athletes, look out. This one could get ugly.
Which matchup will you be watching for?
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Wentz & Turner vs. Eagles Def
Commanders DL vs. Philly OL
Washington’s DBs vs. Eagles WRs