Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles – Lincoln Financial Field (1.15am GMT)
Monday Night Football will be a big game for both teams in this divisional matchup.
If the Redskins win they keep pace with the re-energised Cowboys who, after stuffing the New Orleans Saints, lead the pack in the NFC East at 7-5.
If the Eagles win, they drop the Redskins to 6-6 and raise themselves up to the same, with an enticing matchup with the Cowboys slated for next week, which has the potential to shake things up even further in this division.
Doing the Philly Shuffle
The potential issues facing Philadelphia are a continued instability in their secondary, a stuttering wide receivers and a rash of injuries through their running back corps.
The Eagles have been playing musical chairs in their secondary this season and have been giving up big plays all season, however luckily for them the Redskins wide receivers have also been a non-factor this year.
However now with the recent injury to Alex Smith, his backup Colt McCoy has been showing more tendencies to look downfield. This could lead to possible chunk plays against Philly, or maybe more likely, some ill-advised decisions and a repeat of his three interception performance against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately since the trade for Golden Tate, the Eagles’ pass catchers have been under-performing also. In the past three weeks Tate has been targeted 20 time but has just 11 catches for 97 yards and no touchdowns.
As troubling as this stat line is, what is more worrisome is that this lacklustre production has come at the expense of Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor’s target shares.
But the most present of the three problems for Philly this week is the state of their backfield on offense.
Darren Sproles is earmarked to return this week from a hamstring injury, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Eagles as standout stand-in Josh Adams is listed as questionable with a hip injury.
Washington’s run defense has been up and down this season, so the injuries are a boost to their potential effectiveness.
Bearing these problems in mind look for Carson Wentz to keep searching for his superstar tight end safety valve Zach Ertz. Ertz is only 115 yards off hitting 1,000 receiving yards, and may be able to do it in a tasty matchup against Redskins linebacker Mason Foster.
Red-faced and off the pace
For Washington to have success against the Eagles, a big game will be required from Adrian Peterson.
So far this season the Redskins have won every game in which AP has rushed for more than 65 yards, and lost every game in which he has produced less than 55 yards on the ground.
Luckily for Washington’s rushing offense a nice return this week will be Chris Thompson who, after being sidelined with a broken rib has been sorely missed for his playmaking abilities since Week 8.
But the issues for Washington run deeper than first and third downs. With both a recent public relations nightmare with regards to their dubious decision to claim Reuben Foster, as well as defensive captain DJ Swearinger publicly calling out the Redskins practice mentality – there is discord currently inside the Beltway. I wouldn’t expect a repeat of the famous Monday Night Massacre, but I do expect the Eagles to walk away with this one given the current turmoil in D.C.
Prediction: Eagles 31 – Redskins 20
Photo Credit: Alex Brandon (AP)
Our NFC East reporter is Chris Milner who covers Redskins, Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants. Chris is a Washington Redskins fan who has followed the game since 2011. He is one of our fantasy football correspondents and also co-hosts the ‘Same Level Fantasy Football’ podcast. Follow him on Twitter @chrismilner