Both teams will be looking for an early leg up in the NFC East race when the Philadelphia Eagles play host to the Washington Redskins in Week 1. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 8 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Fans throughout much of the northeaster will be able to watch the game on Fox.
Oddsmakers list the Eagles as 9.5-point favorites. The over/under for the rivalry game is set at 46 points. Be sure to check out all of this week’s NFL betting odds.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they couldn’t successfully defend their Super Bowl title last season. There was a slight championship hangover in 2018, as the Eagles started the year 2-3. However, they won five of their final six games heading down the stretch to earn a Wild Card spot. The Eagles then beat the Bears in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the Saints in a close game.
But that late-season surge in 2018 serves as strong evidence that the Eagles will remain among the contenders in the NFC this season. Of course, much of that could hinge on the health of quarterback Carson Wentz, who was hurt when the Eagles won the Super Bowl and also finished the 2018 season unable to play. Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is no longer the backup, so the 2019 season is all on Foles.
As for the Redskins, they’ve become the definition of mediocrity under Jay Gruden. Washington is 31-32-1 over the last four seasons, never finishing better than 9-7 or worse than 7-9 during that span. More importantly, the Redskins have been missing from the playoffs for three straight years, so Gruden could be running out of time if he can’t make a playoff push in 2019.
To make matters worse, the team’s quarterback situation became murky when Alex Smith went down with that deviating injury late in the 2018 season. The result was a three-way quarterback competition during the preseason that ended with Case Keenum earning the start for Week 1. It’s now on Keenum to lead the Redskins to the playoffs despite modest expectations heading into the season.
Of course, motivation for the Week 1 game should be no problem for both the Eagles and Redskins. This continues to be one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL year after year. The Eagles enter the Week 1 showdown with a four-game winning streak over Washington, outscoring the Redskins by a total of 39 points in last year’s meetings.
It’s rare to feel comfortable leaning toward a team to win a rivalry game by double digits, but this is one of those occasions. Last year’s results between these teams prove that games between Philadelphia and Washington aren’t always close. The Eagles are at home and have a distinct talent advantage, which makes me comfortable leaning toward them to win by at least 10 points and cover the spread.
With Keenum at quarterback, I can’t help but be concerned about Washington’s offense. It’s been a long time since that magical season with the Vikings, and Keenum was underwhelming last season with the Broncos. Things could be just as bad for him with the Redskins this season. Keenum doesn’t a great collection of receivers outside of tight end Jordan Reed. The Washington offensive line is also missing Trent Williams, which could be a big problem against the Eagles.
The Redskins will have little choice but to lean on their rushing attack to help keep them in the game. There is a lot of hope for Derrius Guice, who missed all of his rookie season due to injury. Guice should help take a lot of the pressure of the aging Adrian Peterson, who carried the Washington offense at times last season but can’t be relied on to do that again. The problem is that the Eagles have the kind of defensive line led by Fletcher Cox that can stuff the run and put everything on Keenum’s shoulders.
Of course, whether the Eagles cover this game or not could come down to how much damage they can do against the Washington defense. As mentioned, Wentz didn’t play late in 2018 because of a back injury. He was also absent during the preseason, so it’s worth questioning how sharp he’ll be in Week 1.
The good news for the Eagles is that Wentz has almost always been productive when healthy. He also has plenty of help around him. Jordan Howard and rookie Miles Sanders headline a deep backfield that also includes Darren Sproles and Corey Clement if needed. Philadelphia also brought back DeSean Jackson to serve as a deep threat who can complement Alshon Jeffery and tight end Zach Ertz.
To be fair, the Redskins feel good about their defense heading into the season. But I think the Eagles have enough playmakers to score points, even if Wentz isn’t yet at the top of his game. More importantly, I don’t trust Washington to move the ball consistently, which is why I feel comfortable believing the Eagles will win by a couple of touchdowns and cover the spread.