The Philadelphia Eagles open their 2013 NFL campaign with a visit to FedEx Field to face the defending NFC East champion Washington Redskins in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Head coach Chip Kelly will be making his NFL regular season debut as he mans the sidelines for the first time in Eagles green. While Washington’s QB Robert Griffin III makes his first appearance in live football action since undergoing total reconstructive knee surgery January 9.
Did you know?
With a win on Monday, Washington Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan can tie Tom Landry for most Week 1 wins by a head coach since the 1970 merger (16).
The game will be Redskins’ LB London Fletcher’s 241st consecutive game played and 200th consecutive game started since entering the league. Fletcher would be only be the second linebacker in NFL history to have started 200 consecutive regular season games (Derrick Brooks – 208).
Alfred Morris vs Eagles Run Defense: The Eagles are switching to a 3-4 defense with misfit personnel. It typically takes two or more years to successfully transition to a 3-4 defensive alignment. In fact, it took the Washington Redskins three years to truly get the right pieces and for the players to feel comfortable in the system. Philly had trouble stopping the run last season and I wouldn’t be surprised if the trend continues. Their defensive front struggled holding their positions at the point-of-attack in preseason. And the guy who leads their linebacking core, DeMeco Ryans was traded from the Houston Texans because of his inability to play in a 3-4 defense. He struggles attacking gaps. So, having to go against the league’s most prolific rushing attack (2012) week one isn’t necessarily a good matchup for Philly. Advantage: Alfred Morris
DeSean Jackson vs DeAngelo Hall: Assuming Hall matches up against Jackson — slowing him down will be key. DeSean Jackson averages at least one big play every time he faces the Redskins. In Chip Kelly’s offense, he’ll receive the ball out-wide on bubble screens, handoffs and flats in the backfield — not to mention he’s listed as the team’s primary punt returner. Considering the numerous ways Kelly will use Jackson, he won’t be DHall’s responsibility the entire game. Advantage: DeSean Jackson
LeSean McCoy vs Redskins Run Defense: LeSean McCoy is the Eagles’ main weapon. He’s the guy they want to feature on offense. It’s simple — when facing McCoy as a running threat — keep him inside and do not over pursue. He’s one of the most explosive running backs in the league when he’s able to find cutback lanes. The Eagles will also use him a lot in the passing game — there’s a checkdown to running backs drawn up on essentially every Chip Kelly passing play. Not to mention, McCoy will be fed screens and even lineup outside as a receiving threat. Advantage: LeSean McCoy
Cary Williams vs Pierre Garcon: This will hands down be the matchup I would pay money to see. Not because each player’s talent matches up well — but because both players like to talk and try to get in the head of the opposing player. Unfortunately for Williams — Pierre Garcon walks his talk. Advantage: Pierre Garcon
Eagles tight ends vs Redskins LBs/Safeties: This could potentially be a key matchup because the Redskins were simply not good against tight ends last season. The Eagles could utilize both James Casey and Zach Ertz in the passing game on Monday.
Robert Griffin III vs Mychal Kendricks: Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks is very talented. He’s a guy with range in coverage and can regain ground quickly. This will be one of those chess matches. Kendricks will have his eyes on Griffin throughout the game.
Special Teams: This could be one of those games that’s decided by special teams play. It will likely be high scoring, but a mistake on special teams could lead to a loss for one team on Monday. Washington Redskins’ rookie Chris Thompson looks to be the team’s primary kickoff and punt returner. He’s explosive and the Eagles have to be aware of that. He’s also had some issues hanging on to the football, so that’s something to keep an eye on as well. DeSean Jackson is a dynamic punt returner and must be contained. Not to mention, both team’s have pretty good kickers in Eagles’ Alex Henery and Redskins’ Kai Forbath.
David Amerson vs Riley Cooper/Bacarri Rambo in coverage: Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will likely put a big body on a big body: David Amerson vs Riley Cooper. Washington’s rookie CB will be the primary right cornerback when the team is out of base defense, while Josh Wilson kicks inside over the slot. Starting Free Safety Bacarri Rambo has looked good in coverage and must continue doing so against Philly. Taking the correct angles when chasing down an opposing player on the run will be key too.
Who Wins? Washington Redskins win 42-31.
Season Record (Game-By-Game broken in season quarters):
1st Quarter of Season
Win — Philadelphia Eagles (Monday Night)
Lose — at Green Bay Packers
Lose — Detroit Lions
Win — at Oakland Raiders
I placed an “L” against the Packers for two reasons: they lost week one and it will be Green Bay’s first home game — those are always tough to win. On the loss against Detroit — the Washington Redskins have just never really matched up well against Matt Stafford. They make him look like Dan Marino. But he is a good quarterback and has some nice weapons around him: Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. I think they could beat Washington.
2nd Quarter of Season
Win — at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night)
Win — Chicago Bears
Lose — at Denver Broncos
Win San Diego Chargers
Simply put, the general — Sir. Peyton Manning might be a little too much for Washington’s defense.
3rd Quarter of Season
Win — at Minnesota Vikings (Thursday Night)
Win — at Philadelphia Eagles
Win — San Francisco 49ers (Monday Night)
Win — New York Giants (Sunday Night)
A clean slate in November. The Redskins will have extra time between each game this month. They won’t play the Eagles until 10 days after the Vikings game. And although it will be a short week between the Monday and Sunday game — both will be in primetime.
4th Quarter of Season
Wn — Kansas City Chiefs
Lose — at Atlanta Falcons
Win — Dallas Cowboys
Lose — at New York Giants
Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White — in the dome, could be a tough matchup for Washington. For the last game of the season, Washington may not even have to win it. So that’s that.
11-5 is my season prediction. That’s one more win than 2012 and could point to signs of this team becoming a consistent winner.
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