This is the Eagles’ third-division game. Division victories are sweet not only for yourself but what you’ve done to a rival. Sweeping a division rival probably means you’re having a good season, right? (As Nick Sirianni likes to say.)
3 PREDICTIONS YOU’LL LIKE
1. THE NUMBERS
Stats don’t play football. Upsets happen. You never know, blah-blah. Any given Monday …
The numbers tell an overwhelming story for the Eagles.
The Eagles’ imposing rankings:
- Third in total offense
- Sixth in rushing offense
- Ninth in passing offense
- Second in points scored
- Third in total defense
- 20th against the run
- Third against the pass
- Fourth in points allowed
The Commanders’ very average numbers: 21st in total offense and rushing offense, 22nd in passing offense and 26th in points scored.
Their defensive numbers: 14th in total defense, 11th in rushing defense, 18th in passing defense and 16th in points allowed.
The Eagles lead the NFL in turnover differential with plus-15, eight more than runner-up Baltimore. Washington is tied for 25th in turnover differential, with a minus-four.
Should these patterns continue, the Eagles could turn a close game into a quick, two-score lead. As they’ve done all season.
2. JALEN HURTS
Hurts is after his 12th consecutive victory as starter, amazing in a sport that prides itself on parity.
More remarkable is what has happened since training camp, when the Hurts talk was whether he could even be the starting quarterback next season or whether the Eagles would have to draft a quarterback.
We haven’t heard such conversations lately. The Eagles are all-in with Hurts. (Note to Howie Roseman: Take a pass rusher with the Saints’ pick, take a safety with your own pick.)
Hurts hasn’t been perfect — nobody is — but he is among the league leaders in the major statistical categories.
Opposing defenses are presented with unique challenges trying to contain the Eagles. They are a running team that can throw the ball with great efficiency. They are a passing team with a quarterback connecting on 68.2 percent of his passes. They don’t turn over the ball.
Then, when you have the receivers covered, Hurts can take off and gain first-down yardage.
Our prediction: Hurts will play winning football Monday night as he has played all season.
3. EAGLES WIN
Hurts tuned up Washington in the first meeting, the Eagles jumping out to a 24-0 first-half lead. He threw for a season-high 340 yards and three touchdowns.
Before a home crowd and a national television audience, the Eagles will be ready to show their 8-0 record is neither a fluke nor a by-product of their schedule. Take the Eagles, 27-10.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU WON’T LIKE
1. TAYLOR HEINICKE
The Commanders are a better team with Heinicke at quarterback than Carson Wentz.
The Commanders are 2-1 with Heinicke starting this season. Heinicke threw a bad interception a week ago and might have cost his team the victory over Minnesota.
Heinicke, unlike Wentz, showed leadership and stood up and took the blame.
- “I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a player,” Sirianni said. “He’s a scrappy player that finds ways to get it done, so we’re going to have to be on our game.
- “Any division game, and when you’re playing a quarterback like this that’s scrappy and finds ways to make plays, you’re going to have to be on it.”
Eagles players talked about Heinicke’s mobility being a concern. Expect Heinicke to keep the Commanders close into the fourth quarter.
2. DEFENSIVE LINE
The defensive line, led by tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen and edge rusher Montez Sweat, is the Commanders’ best position group. The Commanders have 23 sacks, 11th in the NFL. They lead the NFL with 73 quarterback hits.
For the Commanders to slow down the Eagles’ running game, the front seven will have to play great. That happened in the first meeting. But to beat an 8-0 division rival, the defensive line needs to be the best unit on the field.
3. COMMANDERS WIN
This is not preposterous. Washington isn’t a bad team and, the first sack-a-palooza against Wentz not withstanding, expect this to be a tight game.
The Eagles sacked Wentz nine times. Heinicke won’t get sacked that much. He gets the ball out quickly and the Commanders seem to respond to him.
Washington won three games in a row before losing to the Vikings. The Commanders beat the Bears, Colts and Packers — not a murderer’s row, but any NFL win is a big deal.
How can you compose a Commanders victory?
In the first meeting, Washington held the Eagles to 72 rushing yards, the fewest since Week Three of 2021. If the Commanders control the Eagles’ running game, that would put Philly into likely-pass situations. If the defensive line can gain an advantage over the Eagles’ offensive line, it could disrupt Hurts. Maybe a turnover will follow.
If Heinicke plays well, his fleet receivers could produce good numbers. Talented rookie Jahan Dotson is expected to return from injury and the Eagles will be without nickel back Avonte Maddox.
Washington gets right back in the playoff picture by shocking the NFL world, 24-20.