The Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Football Team square off in Week 1 for the third time in the last four seasons. The Eagles have won the past six meetings, sweeping the season series in three straight years. Philadelphia enters the matchup as the second-highest road favorite of the weekend slate, while Washington looks to rebound, coming off a 3-13 season where they lost their final four games.
Carson Wentz is unquestionably facing a “prove it” year for the Eagles; he has not been on the field for the team’s final game of the past three seasons. Injuries cut short each of those campaigns, so despite a run of three-straight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl trophy, Wentz does not have a postseason victory on his resume. Add in the unexpected selection of Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 Draft, it’s safe to say Wentz is under more pressure than ever to win games and stay on the field.
The Eagles addressed two glaring weaknesses in the draft, adding speed at receiver by selecting Jalen Reaghor in the first round, and addressing depth in the secondary by taking safety K’von Wallace in the fourth round. Still, Wentz’s durability and injuries on both offensive and defensive line could be the team’s downfall.
You often hear the cliche, “this team lacks an identity” thrown around in sports, but that cliche might never be more accurate than it is for the Washington Football Team. A new (albeit successful and experienced) head coach, a young QB trying to prove he belongs, controversy in the front office, and no nickname certainly equates to a missing identity.
Ron Rivera is handing the keys to Dwayne Haskins, the second-year slinger from Ohio State. By releasing veteran running back Adrian Peterson, Washington is rebuilding with youth.
The biggest question might not be how many wins the Washington Football Team may earn this year, but how much longer Daniel Snyder stays in power. That might be the cloud that hangs over the team all season long.
History Repeats Itself
As noted, the Eagles have won six straight in the series, with five of those wins coming by double-digits. Oddsmakers set Philadelphia as a 6.5 point favorite with an over/under of 43.
Case Keenum opened 2019 as Washington’s starting QB and nearly led his team to an upset win over Philly to open the season. The Eagles came from behind to win 32-27 last September but failed to cover the spread. To make the playoffs, the Eagles need a big push down the stretch and won their final four games to get there, including a 37-27 victory over Washington in Week 15.
In the 2017 opener, it took a late fumble return for a touchdown from defensive end Fletcher Cox to put the game away and secure the back-door cover for Philadelphia.
Distractions abound in the Eagle locker room. Jason Peters demanded (and ultimately received) more money after shifting back to left tackle, Zach Ertz made his contract frustrations public, and a rift in the front office came to light this week. The Eagles should win the game, but for all those reasons, and the idea of Washington perhaps being underestimated, the home team will cover.