Matchups to watch in Redskins vs. Eagles

Ben Krimmel
September 06, 2019 - 2:35 pm

The wait is nearly over: The NFL has returned.

And if the lackluster opener Thursday night between the Packers and Bears didn't fully quench your football thirst, Sunday has a full slate of games. And around here, all eyes are in Philadelphia for Redskins vs. Eagles.

This matchup of NFC East rivals, which closed the 2018 NFL season in embarrassment for the Skins, could be a bellwether for where Washington's season is headed. Of course, most of the football prognosticators and the gamblers have the Redskins struggling in Week 1 and the rest of the season. The betting line is between Eagles -9.5 and -10. 

All of football is a game of matchups and Week 1 will be no exception, here are three key matchups to watch:

Redskins offensive line vs. Eagles defensive line:

The weight of the Skins chances will rest on the shoulders of left tackle Donald Penn and left guard Ereck Flowers and that's a scary thought for fans of the Burgundy & Gold.

With Trent Williams still absent, the Redskins have turned to a pair of veterans on the left side of their line and they will have to stop an excellent Philadelphia front, which features one of the game's top lineman in Fletcher Cox, a four-time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro in 2018. 

What should the Skins do if that side of the line struggles? 106.7 The Fan's Redskins insider Chris Russell has a suggestion: Slim down the offensive.

"Please, don't do your entire offense," Russell told The Sports Junkies. "Please don't be so stubborn to have five and seven-step drop-a-poloza and running intermediate-high to high routes constantly."  

The complex route constructions which head coach Jay Gruden's offense is known for can get the Redskins into trouble if it means quarterback Case Keenum has to hold the ball for a long time, Russell said.

And if Cox, who tallied 10.5 sacks last season, is able to feast on Keenum that will likely kill much of the success of the Skins running game with second-year back Derrius Guice.

Josh Norman vs. DeSean Jackson

They were teammates with the Redskins for just a single season and now the two will likely lineup opposite each other a few times Sunday in Philadelphia. And while Norman can win the battle four times out of five, if the fifth time goes for a big play, the Eagles WR will have won the day.

"We know that he gets up to play his former teams," John Auville said. "I would not be shocked to see them try the deep shot early in the game."

Russell's thoughts: "I would be very afraid" for the Skins corner.  It will come down to how physical Norman can be at the line of scrimmage or it could be a tough day for the Redskins secondary, which will be Fabian Moreau due to injury.

The Redskins' chances of winning rely on the defense keeping the Eagles below 20 points and they have little margin for error when it comes to the speedy Jackson.

Redskins pass rush vs. Carson Wentz

When under pressure in 2018, Wentz was 19th in the NFL in completion percentage. Can the Redskins get to him with Jon Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis? Can rookie first-round draft pick Montez Sweat show off his speed and disrupt the passing game?

"Carson Wentz is great and he's killed the Redskins and he's eluded them. They've gotten pressure on him, they just haven't been able to corral him," Russell told The Junks. "I don't know how good he's gonna be in that regard cause he's normally broke their back, but he's coming off of a broken back.

"And he's rusty. He didn't play in the preseason. So, to me, I think his timing, his rhythm, his sense of his normal flow... that's your chance here: Get to him, hit him, knock him down, screw up his timing, mess with him a little bit mentally and that's your chance right there," Russell added. 

Russell added it isn't just sacks, but pressures and knockdowns which could be huge for the Redskins defense in disrupting the Eagles offense. Keeping Wentz out of rhythm could be key especially when the Washington offense isn't expected to score a ton of points. 

Prediction from Russell: Take the points: "I'm going plus the 9.5 absolutely, stone-cold lock."

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