Weird things always happen when the Washington Commanders and Philadelphia Eagles face off throughout the regular season. Whether it was the Burgundy and Gold ending Philly’s undefeated start last season thanks to some unlucky bounces, or Week 4’s crazy ending just a month ago, the Commanders and Eagles are known for being weird.
When the teams meet for the second time this season, both organizations are looking to send a message as the first half of the 2023 regular season comes to a close.
Washington (3-4) is battling for their playoff lives on Sunday, while the Eagles (6-1) are looking to make sure they are playing their best football ahead of their bye week and a marquee matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.
Today, we break down the biggest matchups heading into this weekend’s game in the nation’s capital. Let’s break it down.
Jonathan Allen vs. Sua Opeta
If Cam Jurgens was playing, this matchup would be much different. The fact of the matter is that Sua Opeta has struggled mightily and the offensive line hasn’t been able to run effectively since the second-round left on IR.
Jonathan Allen is among the best defensive linemen in all of football and has been a matchup nightmare for the Eagles since he was drafted. In order for Philadelphia’s offense to do anything significant this game, especially on the ground, Allen will need to be limited in a big way. He’ll certainly go after Opeta and the Eagles need to be prepared for that.
Terry McLaurin vs Darius Slay
McLaurin is the one matchup that could be a major detriment to the Eagles this week. In the last four games alone over the last two years, “Scary Terry” has recorded over eight catches in each game and an average of 94 yards.
To be frank, the Eagles have struggled with McLaurin because they have feared him going deep on players like Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Slay specifically struggled mightily in Week 4’s contest.
If the Eagles are going to win going away (like they should), containing McLaurin will be the biggest focus this week. If he goes off like he did in Philly earlier this season, Washington could very well put up a big upset.
Eagles front seven vs. Commanders O-Line
As good as Jonathan Allen is, the Eagles defensive line has a far bigger advantage on Sunday against Washington’s battered O-Line. At this pace, quarterback Sam Howell is expected to be sacked the most out of any quarterback in NFL history this year. While the Eagles’ defensive line has always had trouble consistently getting to the quarterback when it’s anyone not named Carson Wentz in Washington, this is a battle that they should devour. Nothing more, nothing less.
Ron Rivera vs. Nick Sirianni
This coaching matchup, much like the entire series, has been extremely odd. Rivera clearly looks like a man who knows this is his last year at the helm of the Commanders franchise and hasn’t really outcoached anyone in several years.
That being said, for some reason, Nick Sirianni’s staff always struggles to figure him out from a game-to-game mindset.
Sirianni may be 4-1 over Rivera since being hired by the team, but difficult wins in Week 4 and clinching a playoff spot in 2021 show that this coaching battle will be a major key to watch this week.
Jalen Hurts vs. his knee
Philadelphia’s quarterback may not be on the injury report leading up to this week of preparation, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t fully healthy. Both he and his coaches have explained that he has an injury he’s working through (although it won’t be a factor on gameday).
It’s not hyperbole to say that the fate of the Eagles season rests on if Hurts’ can go over the next few weeks. With their gauntlet of a schedule upcoming, Philadelphia needs their franchise quarterback healthy and able to win both running and throwing. Anything less and this team isn’t going to be able to compete with the Chiefs, Cowboys, or 49ers of the world.
Washington hit Hurts hard the first meeting and if that is more of the same this week, it could be big trouble for the Birds.
AP Photo/Chris Szagola