The Washington Redskins take on their NFC East rivals the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football at FedEx Field.
Last year, Washington, led by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III stunned the league and won the NFC East, along the way outscoring the Eagles 58-26 over both games, with Griffin and fellow rookie phenomenon Alfred Morris rushing for a combined total of over 400 yards.
It is difficult to see Philadelphia being as poor as they were last season. They finished 4-12 after a season of personal tragedy for former head coach Andy Reid, who has since departed for Kansas.
New Philly coach Chip Kelly will be hoping his fast-paced “blur” offense can leave the Redskins defense struggling. The Eagles are an undoubtedly talented team, this year should be different for them than the last one.
Robert Griffin III is fully expected to play on Monday night after successfully rehabilitating his injured knee over the spring/summer. If Griffin’s knee holds up and he is even at 80% effectiveness Philadelphia will have a game on their hands.
Alfred Morris, who leapt to the top of the running back depth chart prior to the 2012 season is firmly entrenched as the number one running back in Washington. Despite competition from Roy Helu Jr, Evan Royster and rookie Chris Thompson, Morris is the clear talent. Holding franchise records for most touchdowns in a rookie season and single season rushing yards with 1613 yards, fans will be hoping for more of the same.
The Washington defense should be stronger this year, particularly in pass rush situations and at the safety position. The defensive backs need to be more consistent and this is one reson several were drafted, including second round pick cornerback David Amerson, and safeties Philip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo.
Against the Eagles the Redskins need to stop Chip kelly’s offense, led by Michael Vick, who beat out Nick Foles for the starting job. Vick has looked good in pre-season. One previous criticism of Vick was that he took too many hits, he has been smooth in pre-season and looks to be making good choices and delivering the ball well. Lane Johnson’s drafting at number four overall in round one should help to keep the pocket from collapsing, giving Vick time to make decisions.
The Eagles wide receivers have taken a knock with the torn ACL and MCL of Jeremy Maclin, although it is debatable whether Riley Cooper is the guy to step up. Cooper has had issues this summer, including being labelled a racist.
LeSean McCoy is still a significant danger at the running back position, and will likely be picked up quickly in many fantasy drafts. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson can stretch the field and pull in some unlikely scores.
The tight end group of the Eagles is reliable, with veterans Brent Celek and James Casey offering some production, which should be supplemented by the addition of rookie Zach Ertz.
Much like the Redskins, the Eagles defense will need to be on top of their game. They got overrun by Griffin and co. at times last year and they will be hoping the addition of safety Pat Chung can bolster the secondary, but keeping healthy has always been the issue for former Patriot Chung.
Special teams and penalty decisions could play a key role in the outcome of this likely fast-paced game.
Outside the Pocket Prediction: Redskins 31 – 28 Eagles.
The Redskins just sneak this open high-scoring game, with a field goal from Kai Forbath taking the points.