Week Three and the Eagles have their highly anticipated game against Carson Wentz and the Commanders. Feeling like the Eagles can win, again, on the road. But if they don’t win, Carson Wentz probably will be the unpopular reason why.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU WILL LIKE
1. JALEN HURTS
If you’re still skeptical, you aren’t paying attention. What Hurts is accomplishing is happening right in front of your eyes.
Believe what you see.
Based on the first two weeks — admittedly a small sample size — Hurts is one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league. Top quarterbacks win a lot of NFL games. It’s the way the system works.
Expect Hurts to continue that upward path against the Commanders on Sunday. Expect the Eagles to be 3-0.
“I don’t think I know what his ceiling is yet,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “I just continue to see him get better.
“I knew he had that in him and again I’m not surprised by anything that Jalen does on the football field because I’ve seen him doing this all offseason, all training camp, practices, the meeting room.
“I see his growth … all the time. Maybe to the outside world, it’s like, woah.”
2. EAGLES PASS RUSH
The Eagles had one sack against Detroit — and that was helped when Lions quarterback Jared Goff fumbled the snap.
Against the Vikings, they sacked fatigued Kirk Cousins three times. When they blitzed, they forced Cousins into hurried, inaccurate throws.
Imagine you’re Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. What would *your* game plan be?
Duh, rush Carson Wentz and rush him hard. Make him taste-test the turf at FedEx Field. Force him into bad decisions, which tend to lead to bad throws.
Put enough pressure on him so he’s throwing the ball up for grabs. He has thrown three interceptions in the Commanders’ two games.
Cut loose Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham and get after Wentz. Punish Wentz when he holds onto the ball too long, which is his habit.
Let’s see what Carson has.
3. EAGLES WIN
Eagles-Washington games are traditionally close. Not since 2018 has a team won by more than 10 points.
Darius Slay, who effectively shut down the Vikings’ Justin Jefferson, faces another challenge in the Commanders’ wideouts. Does he have another All-Pro type of game in him?
To win, the Eagles should shut down the Commanders’ running attack and make Wentz beat them.
To win, the Eagles’ offense should play like the first half against the Vikings, not the second half. Their offensive balance was what most coaches want to see — 31 passes and 34 runs. They gained 486 yards.
Come anywhere close to that and the Eagles will win by 30-17.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU WON’T LIKE
1. CARSON WENTZ
Despite the scorn Wentz faces in Philly, he is a starting NFL quarterback with a decent skill-set. In seven NFL years, he has a 45-41-1 record.
He has completed 62.7 percent of his career passes. He has thrown 147 touchdown passes with 60 interceptions.
At age 30, he’s not as mobile as he once was. Still, he can move around and keep a play alive —sometimes to his detriment.
The Commanders lead the NFL with six receivers having at least 70 yards receiving — so, Wentz is looking around at his options.
In the Commanders’ 1-1 season, they have scored 55 points, eighth in the NFL. The Eagles have scored 62 points, tied for fourth.
Can you think of a player with more to play for than Wentz? He was traded to Indy less than a month after Sirianni arrived in Philly. Hmmm. Might revenge be on Wentz’ mind?
If this game goes south for the Eagles, Wentz is the reason why.
2. COMMANDERS DEFENSE STEPS UP
Washington’s defense is ranked 27th in the NFL, while the Eagles’ offense is ranked No. 1.
Washington is 29th against the rush and 20th against the pass and remain without injured stud defensive end Chase Young. Sounds like trouble for the Commanders.
“They fly to the ball. They’re very disruptive,” Hurts said. “Obviously, those guys on the front seven, they’re really good. They play really good ball. A division opponent, we just have to ready for another good team, another good defense.”
That is a load of non-bulletin board talk from Hurts.
This is a statement game for Washington. If the Commanders have playoffs plans, they need to defeat an undefeated, first-place team that isn’t going away.
If Washington wins, its defense must step up.
3. COMMANDERS WIN
If Washington wins, Wentz must be cooking with receivers Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and rookie Jahan Dotson. Washington is sixth in total offense, while the Eagles’ defense is 14th.
The Commanders have firepower.
To take heat off Wentz, the Commanders need a running attack. In two games, Washington has rushed for 173 yards (25th) and passed for 613 (2nd). The Eagles rank 20th in rushing defense (121.5 yards per game) and 12th in passing defense (203.5 yards per game).
Should Wentz be effective and the defense can slow down Hurts — and Washington wins the turnover battle — give it to the Commanders, 27-22.