NFC East action here in the first week of the NFL season as the Washington Football Team hosts the Philadelphia Eagles. It is the first game of the Ron Rivera era for Washington, while Carson Wentz is sure to be coming out angry for Philadelphia after his disappointing end to last season. Both sides have a lot to prove, and oddsmakers have the Eagles as a sizable favorite for this one.
Eagles Have Chip On Their ShoulderOne thing that this Philadelphia Eagles team will have going for them in 2020 is continuity. In fact, they are the only NFC East team that didn't change their head coach this offseason. Philadelphia is coming off a relatively disappointing season where they won the division at 9-7, but lost at home to the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs. Carson Wentz was knocked out of that game and gave way to Josh McCown, prompting further questions about his durability. Now entering his fifth year in the league Wentz has a lot to prove, and teammates have made it clear from their comments all offseason that they are expecting big things.
The receiving corp was pretty pitiful last year, so they added the DeSean Jackson in free agency to give him a deep threat and Jalen Reagor in the first round of the draft. Unfortunately, Reagor hurt his shoulder during training camp, and it doesn't look like he's going to play here (edit: He's now listed as probable). The bigger loss will be running back Miles Sanders (hamstring) not playing. That means a lot more reps for Boston Scott and Corey Clement. On defense is where Philly may have made their biggest upgrades though, as they completely remade their often incompetent secondary. They traded for top corner Darius Slay from the Lions, signed Nickell Robey-Coleman away from the Rams, and got rid of under performers like Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones. Say what you want about the Eagles, but they have dominated the division in recent years, going 14-4 against the NFC East in the last three seasons.
Washington RevampsWashington elected to start fresh this season after firing longtime head coach Jay Gruden, bringing in Ron Rivera after he was let go by the Carolina Panthers. They may have changed their team name this offseason, but their changes certainly didn't stop there. Dwayne Haskins is now the full-time starter at quarterback after starting seven games as a rookie last season. He didn't fare all too well in those contests, completing less than 59 percent of his passes while throwing seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He played better down the stretch, but he wasn't exactly facing a murderer's row of defenses.
Terry McLaurin looked like a breakout star at receiver last year, but unfortunately, I don't think Washington did enough to upgrade Haskins' weapons around him. Having Steven Sims Jr and Dontrelle Inman as his next two receivers and Logan Thomas as his starting tight end simply isn't going to cut it. They also cut veteran running back Adrian Peterson last week, which means rookie Antonio Gibson of Memphis, will be the likely starter. He mostly played receiver with the Tigers last season.
The defense has some real talent, and Jack Del Rio's unit is going to need to take a big step forward if this team wants to compete in 2020. Rookie second overall pick Chase Young, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat, and Jonathan Allen combine to make up a great young defensive front, but the question marks on offense are too much for me to get too excited. It looks like Geron Christian is going to start at left tackle, and he has only two career starts under his belt.
Trends, courtesy of Covers.com: Washington is:
- 2-8 ATS in their last 10 home games
- 0-5 ATS in their last 5 vs. NFC East
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games in Week 1
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as a road favorite