1. HOLD THE LINE
Washington enters the game with a new starters at quarterback (Case Keenum), running back (Derrius Guice) and two receiver spots (Terry McLaurin and Trey Quinn). But a key will be the men blocking for them—especially on the left side, where veteran Donald Penn and reclamation project Ereck Flowers will line up. They’ll be tested by the Eagles’ stellar defensive front. Don’t be surprised if Philadelphia shifts Fletcher Cox (10.5 sacks last year) to that side at times to create mismatches.
2. WITH ERTZ, IT HURTS
Washington’s secondary will understandably have to pay attention to former teammate DeSean Jackson’s speed. But if he stretches the field, that will leave lots of room underneath for Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who has posted three double-figures catch games against Washington, including a franchise-record 15 receptions in 2014. Linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton is likely to get the dubious honor of trying to cover Ertz.
3. SEPTEMBER MOURN?
In a do-or-die season for Washington coach Jay Gruden, the NFL’s schedule-makers did him no favors. Gruden’s team faces four 2018 playoff teams (the Eagles, Cowboys, Bears and Patriots) in the season’s first five weeks. A predictably slow start could doom Washington to a third straight losing season—and an eventual pink slip. Gruden and his team must find a away to steal a win early, and the opener may be as good a time as any.
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE:
Philadephia 23, Washington 13