The Eagles are riding a lifeline. Dallas has a two-game lead atop the NFC East and a Philadelphia loss to Washington could be the final nail in the coffin for this season. If the Birds are to keep scrapping and swinging, they’ll have to dominate the following five matchups.
Malcolm Jenkins vs Jordan Reed
If there’s one thing Malcolm Jenkins salivates over, it’s lining up against the best tight ends in the league. He’ll get to do exactly that on Monday Night when Jordan Reed, who leads the Redskins in receiving with 537 yards and 2 scores, meets an old enemy. There always seems to be some kind of firework display when the pair square off, whether it’s Reed juking the Eagles safety back in 2015 or his TD snag last year, big plays are always on the cards.
For Colt McCoy, seeking solace in a security blanket wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world and it will be down to Malcolm Jenkins to remove that threat.
D.J. Swearinger vs Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz came up big against the Giants, but his mechanics over the last few weeks have been worrying at times. The ball is being thrown a little low, his footwork seems far more static than a year ago and he’s much more grounded in the pocket as a result and of course there’s the issue of staring down receivers, which defenses are beginning to catch onto.
Swearinger is having a great year for Washington, leading the team in interceptions. There have been a few instances where Wentz has forced a ball into some extremely tight windows and gotten away with it, but I don’t think Washington will be so lenient. Wentz will have to be a little more aware on Monday night if he’s to avoid playing right into the hands of a ballhawking D.J Swearinger.
Lane Johnson vs. Ryan Kerrigan
This is another matchup that never ceases to disappoint. Kerrigan vs Johnson is like the unstoppable force vs immovable object. When Vaitai matched up against the 30-year old, making his NFL debut, we all know what happened.
Unfortunately for Johnson, Kerrigan has enjoyed yet another impressive season. With eight sacks on the year, the speed he brings off the edge is problematic at the very least. His 10.5 career sacks vs the Eagles should serve as a huge warning to an offensive front that has been swallowing pressure and QB hits all year long.
The good news is that Johnson has been playing much closer to his 2017 form recently. Healing from an MCL sprain takes time, but it takes a lot to keep the big man down. After a big game last week, the Eagles will need to lean on their franchise right tackle finding a way to slow down Ryan Kerrigan in both pass-blocking and opening up the run.
Josh Adams vs Redskins run defense
The Washington run defense has been incredibly productive this season, despite a few bumps along the road. Ranking 8th in the NFL, the Redskins are fresh off of a divisional loss to the Cowboys that saw Ezekiel Elliott humble the unit somewhat, putting up over 120 yards of rushing and 22 yards of receiving.
If the Eagles can utilize Josh Adams in a similar vein, pounding the rock and relying on an offensive line that’s really beginning to find its rhythm just in time for the ultimate underdog playoff push, there’s no reason why they can’t take to a defense that’s been rocked and go for the knockout punch.
Adams has been on a tear recently, with a run of 19+ yards in each of his last four games, scoring touchdowns in his last two. The Eagles may have finally found some offensive balance, but they need to ensure that doesn’t change up against such an athletic linebacking corps at the second level.
Redskins cornerbacks vs Eagles secondary
There’s a good chance that Jalen Mills returns to action this week, but it seems as though whoever plays that #CB1 spot will be stuck between a rock and a hard place. The current crop of cornerbacks were picked apart in the first half against New York and the tackling was beyond worrying. Having two corners (Mills & Jones) back in action will be a huge help, but Colt McCoy isn’t the QB to take advantage of the mismatches downfield. Instead, expect a lot of dinking and dunking on comebacks and curls…which for the Eagles, is just as worrying given the aforementioned tackling form.
Having Mills back would be a huge help as one of the more vocal players on defense who is also one of the most secure tacklers on the team. But with the elusive Josh Doctson leading the way, don’t be surprised to see the Redskins try some tricks to catch what is still a relatively unexperienced group off guard, just as the G-Men set out to do last week.
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