1) The Philadelphia Eagles will begin the game with the best record in the NFL.
Oh, sorry. I know I usually do a little opening blurb, but I figured we just needed to get this one out of the way from the jump.
After Kansas City lost in the last, last, last, last, last second to Oakland on Thursday Night Football, the Philadelphia Eagles became the only 1-loss team left in the NFL, and have the best winning percentage (.833).
A quick note on the Kansas City v. Oakland game: I received some significant flak last week, for this quote from my Week 6 FFFS post:
Well, suckers, teams in all-white jerseys are on a four-game winning streak on Thursday Night Football. So you can miss me with your foolishness, or hop on the train.
While there isn’t any news on jerseys yet for the Washington game, the all-blacks are a significant possibility: Monday Night, division rival, at home. All-blacks are just a step-down from all-white, and are significantly sharper than any color-combo situation.
Essentially, I want the entire NFL to be in some form of Color Rush at all times.
2) Some buffoon picks the Redskins to win
I’ll be honest: I do absolutely everything I can to avoid pregame shows. In the past, there was a caveat here—I used to really enjoy the CBS pregame show. I really enjoyed the Marino-Cowher-Sharpe-Esiason (didn’t care much for Marino, though), and I thought they didn’t lose much ground when Bart Scott and Tony Gonzalez joined the crew.
But then they added Phil Simms. That should be an arrestable offense.
I’m not sure that’s a worthy price to pay for Tony Romo—even twice a week. Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason in the same room? No bueno.
As such, I’ve got no idea, frankly, who works the pregame show for ESPN and Monday Night Football. I don’t intend on finding out, either. But I will tell you this—I know they make pregame picks, and I know someone is going to fall into the trap:
“Listen, the Redskins understand that their chances at the NFC East dramatically fall off without a win here tonight. They remember the loss at home, they want to get revenge, they’re a much better team than they were Week 1. I like the Redskins—Yes! The Redskins!—to win this—”
This is Lincoln Financial, in primetime, with the best record of the NFL on the line, with the division to all but put away seven weeks into the season, with more momentum than any team in the NFL, against the dysfunctional, injury-riddled, starting quarterback-less, we-have-momentum-because-we-just-beat-the-49ers-by-3 REDSKINS.
The Redskins will play Philly tough; I have no doubt about that. But this team has seen more than its fair share of four quarter football games this season, and they’ve come out all the stronger for it. Coach Pederson and Carson Wentz are leading a focused, hungry, and fired-up squad. This isn’t as much of a trap game as y’all think it is.
[BLG Note: I’m one of the buffoons that picked the Redskins to win.]
[BLG Note: This isn’t actually BLG. It’s me, Ben. Don’t tell BLG.]
[Real BLG Note: You’re on thin ice, Solak.]
3) Alshon Jeffery has his breakout game
I dunno for how many weeks we’re going to bite on the same storylines. “Alshon finally has a favorable matchup” or “game script could really benefit him” or “the ______ defense is built to eliminate Zach Ertz, so Wentz will have to turn to Alshon.” I was wary coming into the season, and now, I’m sold.
This offense is not constructed to feature a WR1. It wasn’t in KC, and it isn’t in Philly either.
That’s why Jeffery could very well go for 100 yards on Monday (it would be his first 100 yard game in 17 games, going back to Week 1 in 2016, by the way). It still wouldn’t be a “Breakout Game.” It would be an aberration, a blip, a surprisingly good game, back from which he will come to Earth eventually.
Removing Jeffery’s rookie season from the equation, he’s currently at career lows for yards/game, receptions/game, yards/reception, and catch percentage. In his two most productive seasons at Chicago, he saw just over 9 targets/game; this year with Philly, he’s seen 8 targets/game. The volume drop-off isn’t massive—the production drop-off is.
Sure, Jeffery could feast against the injured corners of Washington; he could even pull in the long touchdown down the sideline that’s been teased a couple of times. Smart money says he won’t, but regardless of the outcome, there is no ‘breakout’ coming for Alshon Jeffery. We’ve already seen the steady production he’ll provide Philadelphia this year.
4) Zach Ertz finally actually really catches a touchdown against the Washington Redskins
Absurd stats time? Absurd stats time.
In his last 6 games against Washington (has played 9 in his career), Ertz has averaged over 10 targets, over 8 receptions, almost 80 yards, aaand 0 touchdowns. He’s insanely productive against Washington—and, get this: when it’s the second game of the year against Washington, here are Ertz’s last three performances:
2014: 18 targets, 15 receptions, 115 yards, 0 touchdowns
2015: 17 targets, 13 receptions, 122 yards, 0 touchdowns
2016: 13 targets, 10 receptions, 112 yards, 0 touchdowns
Those are three of the top-5 most productive games of Ertz’s career. Ertz is the second-game-of-the-year-only-Redskins-killer.
But still, Ertz has never scored a touchdown against Washington.
Of course, Ertz has never scored more than 4 touchdowns in a season, and we already have 4 this season, so we are in uncharted Ertz waters here. Who knows what to believe? I like Ertz for, say, 17 targets, 14 catches, 132 yards, and yes: 1 whole touchdown. Let’s get crazy.
5) The Philadelphia Eagles will end the game with the best record in the NFL.
Yeah, in case you didn’t grasp it from #2: I’m picking Philadelphia.
There’s no reason to pick against the Eagles right now. Off of a long rest and a huge win, as healthy as they’ve been all season (Darby probably won’t play, but he could dress as a reserve?), with an opportunity to slide into the driver’s seat of the NFL? I’ll take that.
In all seriousness, I can understand why people view a desperate, winning-streak Redskins team as a danger to Philadelphia. But this Philly team—young, and still with a ton to prove in the way of validity—isn’t lacking for hunger itself. They know what’s to gain and what’s to prove—and they remember the strong start and eventual tumble of last season. I feel confident in their mettle moving forward.
Rasul Douglas finally gets his first pick-six of the season in this one, as he knows his days of significant playing time are numbered. Philly rides a running game that didn’t exist in Week 1 (24 carries for 58), to the tune of 110 yards for LeGarrette Blount. Washington gets some solid pressure on Wentz (they always do), and he throws another pick, but gets his third 3 TD game in a row (Ertz, Celek, Hollins).
The Redskins haven’t scored more than 27 points in a football game since Week 4 of the 2016 NFL season. As long as Philly can clear that mark, they’re golden.
31-17, Philadelphia. Fly Eagles Fly, baby.