Flash back to Week Ten of the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles season. The Eagles were sitting on top of the NFL at 8-0 coming off a Thursday Night Football win against the Houston Texans getting ready to host the Washington Commanders. The Commanders were 4-5 and coming into the game as heavy underdogs. Instead of an easy victory by Philly, Washington walked away with the 32-21 upset.
The situation, though much earlier this season, seems to be nearly identical. The Eagles are just one of three undefeated teams left in the NFL and the Commanders are coming off a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills. Philadelphia is favored by 8.5 points and after the way the two teams played this past week, should easily win. However, in an NFC East rivalry game, anything is possible. What went wrong last season and how can the Eagles prevent the upset?
The Eagles Need To Stick To Their Game Plan
With Nick Sirianni as head coach and Jalen Hurts as quarterback, the Eagles game plan is to control the line of scrimmage and play clock as well as win the turnover battle. In last year’s loss, the Eagles did none of the above. Washington out-muscled the Eagles with 81 plays on offense compared to Philly’s 47. The Commanders had 49 rush attempts for 3.1 yards per attempt and had the ball for over 40 minutes. Washington also forced four Philadelphia turnovers. Head coach Ron Rivera did an outstanding job of flipping the game plan and succeeding with it.
As the game on Sunday approaches, the Eagles need to stick with what they do well, which is run the ball. After just one carry in Week One, D’Andre Swift rushed for over 300 yards in the last two weeks. He is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and needs to take much of the workload. Philly’s other two running backs Kenneth Gainwell and Rashaad Penny have also gotten carries but have not been as effective.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts needs to be more efficient. He’s produced three touchdowns through the air and three on the ground, but already has four turnovers in three weeks. This was not an issue last year, but if uncorrected, it could eventually be why the Eagles lose a game.
The Eagles Have The Right Pieces On Defense
Expect Washington to attempt to control the clock like last year with their two running backs. Brian Robinson has gained over 200 yards with two touchdowns this season and Antonio Gibson is also a threat. However, unlike last year, the Eagles are better equipped against the run. They have two former Georgia Bulldogs who can clog the running lanes in Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter. These two guys along with the rest of the Eagles defense have limited opposing running backs through the first three weeks.
The Eagles allowed just 76 rushing yards to the New England Patriots in Week One, 28 yards to the Minnesota Vikings, and 41 yards to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Defensive coordinator Sean Desai’s unit has been stout through three weeks. Philly’s secondary looked good minus Week Two when they were without safety Reed Blankenship and cornerback James Bradberry, but they are back. The Eagles defense should be able to take advantage of Washington's quarterback Sam Howell who has been turnover-prone. He threw four picks in their 37-3 loss to the Bills last week.
Overall, the Eagles are set up to win this week. They will need to ensure they play a clean football game and continue to dominate the line of scrimmage.
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