Behind Enemy Lines: NFC East Showdown
This week I crossed deep into enemy territory, as I dared sit down and speak with Eagles’ lead writer Brendan Walker. See what Brendan had to say, as we venture into a dangerous zone and go Behind Enemy Lines.
Julia Scanlon - Ryan Kerrigan recorded his 50th career sack last week and the Compton/Foster duo became a force to be reckoned with. What will Eagles' OL need to improve upon from last week to protect Wentz and the Eagles' running backs from these players?
Brendan Walker - Since Lane Johnson’s suspension just got upheld, the team will have to put their faith in the rookie Vaitai. As for the rest of the line, pass protection is number one. Wentz won’t run unless it’s a design play and there aren’t too many of those anyway so if they can pass protect against the Redskins pass rush, then Wentz and the rest of the backfield will be set.
JS- The Redskins run defense has improved a lot since week 1. Darren Sproles and the Eagles' running game struggled last week. Will the run game continue to be a problem for the Eagles' this week? What do they need to do to get back on track?
BW - I don’t think the running attack will be the same as it was last week. This week, Eagles running backs will have over 140 yards combined. They just need to be patient and follow Doug Pederson’s game plan.
JS - In the beginning of last weeks game, the Eagles self-sabotaged themselves with avoidable penalties. Do you think this could continue to be a problem?
BW - If I’m being completely unbiased, I would say that the Detroit referee staff just had it in for the Eagles that day. Yes, the Eagles did make mistakes and I’m not saying they’re perfect, but for the ratio to be 14 penalties (Eagles) to two (Lions), that’s simply on the referees. If the Eagles get anywhere near 7 penalties against the Redskins then there is a a legit problem, otherwise it was just a setup.
JS - Carson Wentz threw his first career interception last week. Do you think Wentz and his receivers will struggle against the Redskins improving secondary?
BW - I don’t think Wentz struggles this week at all. I think he will return to his normal self. The interception shouldn’t be on his mind too much considering it was an effort to get up field in the last minutes and that Darius Slay just made a really good play on the ball to pick it off
JS - Game MVP?
BW - I will say that the game MVP will be Brandon Graham. The guy has been playing out of his mind lately right behind his teammate Fletcher Cox. With already 3 sacks on the season, I can see Graham getting at least two more this coming game.
JS - Score prediction
BW - 27-20 Eagles. I think the Eagles have a slight edge over what the Redskins. The defense is 2nd in total yards per game allowed, which I think is enough to slow the Redskins offense down just enough to come out with the win.
Brendan Walker: Both the Eagles and Redskins have had momentum changes. Eagles just received their first loss while the Redskins have been on a three game win streak. Does this give the Redskins a slight edge?
Julia Scanlon: Well, it definitely does a lot for the team's confidence. There was a lot of hype for them this season and then a lot of let down and that takes a toll on the guys. Now that they are on the cusp of living up to expectation and they're confidence is growing. They are working as a team, finally. Honestly, any winning streak is going to build any team's confidence.
I definitely think that thing that is going to give Redskins a slight edge is the Eagles' loss. As we've seen the past two weeks the Redskins are really good at taking advantage of offensive struggles. When an offensive is good and cohesive, the skins defense doesn't have a chance, but they've been doing very well identifying weaknesses and exploiting them. The Eagles' showed a lot of their weaknesses last week and I expect the Redskins to take full advantage of those.
BW - The Redskins defense limited the Ravens offense to just 10 points in Week 4. Is it likely that they will have a defensive repeat against an Eagles offense that is 3rd in the NFL in points per game?
JS - Like I said above. The Eagles showed their hand last week. They're weaknesses are out there for everyone to see. I fully expect those weaknesses to be exploited. We'll have to see on Sunday how successful they'll be.
BW - Jordan Reed has been known to do terrific in games against the Eagles. He is currently the team’s leading receiver in yards and tied for the team lead in touchdowns (2). What do you predict that his stats will be in this game on Sunday?
JS - The Eagles are a different team than they were last season. It's hard to say how Jordan Reed with fair against them, but I predict he'll have a few yards and maybe a touchdown, but I think he's going to be used mostly as a blocking TE.
BW - Which will be tougher to stop, the Eagles offense or defense?
JS - I am going to go with the Eagles' defense. The Redskins defensive has improved, but their o-line is still pretty weak due to injury. I am thinking the OL will have trouble stopping the blitz and pretty much anything else that comes at them.
BW - Score prediction?
JS - I can't say the Redskins will win because 1) I don't believe they will 2) I've been predicting the Redskins will lose for three weeks and they have won every time, so I am predicting an Eagles victory based purely on stats and superstition. Score: 20-17 Eagles
Julia Scanlon is the NFC North Division Manager and a staff writer for Pro Football Spot's Washington Redskins Coverage. Follow Julia on twitter @justjulia12 and follow Redskins' coverage @spot_redskins.
Brendan Walker is an NFL Analyst and Editor for Pro Football Spot. You can follow Brendan on Twitter at @BWalkerASU