Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Ready for some football?

The Eagles kick off Year 2 under Carson Wentz when they visit the Redskins on Sunday (1 p.m./FOX).

How will the 2017 season start for Doug Pederson and company?

Our experts provide their Week 1 predictions:

Reuben Frank
Yeah, the Redskins have won five straight over the Eagles, but this is a different team.

DeSean Jackson is gone, Pierre Garcon is gone and the biggest advantage the Redskins had during that five-game winning streak was that outside speed against the Eagles' overmatched cornerbacks. The Redskins still have decent receivers and a quarterback in Kirk Cousins, who has the fifth-highest passer rating ever against the Eagles.

But they don't have that explosive speed, and the Eagles finally do have some speed at outside cornerback, although how that rebuilt secondary performs remains to be seen. Carson Wentz didn't play well in Washington last year — he completed only 11 passes — but I expect much more consistency in Year 2, especially on the road and especially early in games.

So Wentz throws for 278 yards, Wendell Smallwood has a combined 112 rushing and receiving yards, Derek Barnett begins his career with 1 1/2 sacks and the Eagles open the season with a win over the Redskins at FedEx Field.

Eagles 27, Redskins 20

Dave Zangaro
The Eagles have lost their last five games to Washington, and Washington hasn't won in an opener since Jay Gruden took over three years ago. 

So something has to give. 

And it's going to be the Eagles' five-game losing streak to their division rival. Simply put, the Eagles are just the better team. And they have been really good in openers, winning five of their last six and seven of their last nine. 

Even with the addition of Terrelle Pryor, I'm not sure Washington is going to be the same team without Jackson and Garcon. And the Eagles will have Lane Johnson back for this game after playing both against Washington last season without him. 

It's a big game for the Eagles and I think they start off with a win. 

Eagles 27, Redskins 19 

Derrick Gunn
So many unknown elements to figure into the equation. Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Pryor, Josh Doctson. How will they all fit into this divisional rivalry?

Gruden is beginning his fourth year as the Redskins' head coach, but he's 0-3 in season openers. How will Doug Pederson distribute the ball among his running backs?

Big things are expected from Wentz in Year 2. In five career games against the Eagles, Cousins has feasted on the Birds. He's averaged 315 yards and completed just under 64 percent of his passes against the Eagles with 12 touchdown passes to just three interceptions. He's been sacked just five times against the Eagles.

An improved Eagles defensive front cannot allow Cousins to get in a rhythm. Four of the last five meetings between the Eagles-'Skins have been decided by seven points or fewer. Washington has won the last five, but in this latest knockdown drag-out brawl, the Eagles flip the script.

Eagles 27, Redskins 26

Ray Didinger
The Redskins seem to have the Eagles' number. They won the last five meetings, the last four with Cousins at quarterback. Cousins picked the Eagles apart (65 percent completions, nine TDs, two interceptions) because they weren't able to pressure him. Give Cousins time in the pocket, let him throw in rhythm, he is very effective. Knock him around, he will make mistakes.

That's the key to beating the Redskins. They don't run the ball very much — or very well — so it is all about Cousins and the receivers. This will be a good test for the Eagles and their new pass rush with Tim Jernigan at tackle and Barnett and Chris Long on the edge. Will they finally be able to win the battle against Washington's stout offensive line? I think they will and that will be the difference.

Eagles 28, Redskins 24

Andrew Kulp
I'm not a big believer in Cousins. Take Jackson out of the equation, and watch Cousins regress. Malcolm Jenkins generally does a good job limiting Jordan Reed, too. Washington's offense simply doesn't scare me.

As long as Lane Johnson can prevent Ryan Kerrigan from running amok in the Eagles' backfield, I foresee big games from Zach Ertz and Smith while Jeffery is keeping Josh Norman occupied. Wentz looks like a different quarterback with all these weapons.

Eagles 20, Redskins 10

Corey Seidman
The Redskins look slightly worse on paper than they did in 2015 or '16. It's Week 1 of a new season, so there isn't much more than paper to go on. 

I think Jeffery makes his presence felt with a few impressive 1-on-1 catches against Norman, Ertz goes for 90 yards and a TD, and Pryor has an inauspicious Redskins debut. 

Eagles 27, Redskins 17

Andy Schwartz
As Corey pointed out in his fantasy outlook, Washington's front-seven isn't what it was last season. It still features Kerrigan, but he'll be facing Johnson, not Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who started for a suspended Johnson the last time the Eagles played at FedEx Field. 

Wentz will have more time to throw, and he'll have better guys to throw to. Ronald Darby will contain Pryor, and barring a miraculous return by John Riggins, the Eagles' D should handle the run.

Eagles 24, Redskins 20

NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott reportedly getting an emergency hearing


NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott reportedly getting an emergency hearing

A person with direct knowledge of the situation says attorneys for Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott are set for an emergency hearing in federal court in New York as they try again to stop the running back's six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.

Elliott's legal team filed a request for a temporary restraining order Monday and will get a hearing Tuesday in the Southern District of New York, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the filing hadn't been made public.

Last year's NFL rushing leader is suspended for Sunday's game at San Francisco after a federal appeals court overturned an injunction that had allowed him to play this season.

The case is shifting to New York because the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ordered the dismissal of Elliott's lawsuit in Texas. Elliott's attorneys have indicated they are still pursuing the case with the New Orleans court.

The person told the AP that U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty would hear arguments Tuesday in New York because the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Fialla, is out of town (see full story).

Packers: Rodgers to have surgery on collarbone
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have surgery on his broken right collarbone, and that his season could be over.

McCarthy said Monday that the two-time NFL MVP would have surgery in the near future. He says that there is no timeline for his potential return.

"The key is to get Aaron healthy, it's not to develop a timeline," McCarthy said.

Rodgers got hurt in the first quarter of the 23-10 loss on Sunday at Minnesota.

Brett Hundley is now the starting quarterback. The Packers also promoted third-stringer Joe Callahan from the practice squad to become the backup quarterback.

Cornerback Quinten Rollins was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury to make room for Callahan (see full story).

Steelers: Bryant downplays reported trade demand
PITTSBURGH -- Yes, Martavis Bryant wants a trade.

To the Golden State Warriors.

Otherwise, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver insists he's just fine even after multiple reports that he asked the team to ship him elsewhere.

Asked Monday if he'd like a change of scenery, Bryant reiterated he's happy in Pittsburgh.

"I'm doing fine, everything is good," he said.

Even if -- at least statistically -- in his return from a year-plus suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy has been underwhelming.

Bryant caught two passes for 27 yards in Sunday's 19-13 victory over Kansas City and has just 17 receptions and one touchdown through six games for the first-place Steelers (4-2). His 13.6 yards per catch is more than 4 yards below his career average while splitting playing time with rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster (see full story).

Raiders: Linebacker Bowman signs 1-year deal
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- NaVorro Bowman will make a short move following his release last week from the San Francisco 49ers, signing a $3 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders on Monday.

"It's a refresher for me," Bowman said after taking part in a walkthrough with his new team. "It's a new picture, new scenery. The guys are a special group of guys. You can just see the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball. I'm excited to go out there and play for an offense that is eager to score points. I look forward to it."

Bowman visited the Raiders on Monday and then signed the deal shortly after that, cancelling a planned visit to the Dallas Cowboys. He went right into meetings with the assistant coaches and could be ready to play when the Raiders (2-4) host the first-place Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

Bowman said he will do extra work this week to learn the defense and said he plans to play this week if he's prepared enough. The Raiders will be happy to get him on the field to add some experience to a young group of inside linebackers (see full story).

Redskins dealing with numerous injuries heading into Week 7 vs. Eagles

USA Today Images

Redskins dealing with numerous injuries heading into Week 7 vs. Eagles

ASHBURN, Va. — Quinton Dunbar takes pride in the way Washington Redskins defensive backs coach Torrian Gray makes every member of the secondary prepare as though he's starting.

"When you get in, you are expected to play like a starter," Dunbar said.

That approach has come in handy this season. Already 2015 All-Pro Josh Norman, fellow cornerback Bashaud Breeland and safety Stefan McClure have gone down with injuries, and second-year safety Su'a Cravens left the team to contemplate retirement.

It's possible Breeland, who sprained his left knee Sunday against San Francisco, and Norman, who has been out with a broken rib, play Monday night.

If they can't go, Washington will lean heavily on Dunbar, Kendall Fuller and rookies Montae Nicholson, Fabian Moreau and Joshua Holsey against quarterback Carson Wentz and the NFC East-leading Eagles.

"It'll be a great challenge because he's playing extremely well," Gruden said.

"Our guys will have to step up. That's just the way it is. There's a lot of teams around the National Football League this time of year that are dealing with key injuries at certain positions and we just had a couple of them at the corner spot. Fabian, Dunbar, they'll have to step up and play well (along with) Holsey, Fuller."

Breeland began the 49ers game as the top cornerback with Norman out and took a block at the knee from offensive lineman Joe Staley. Gruden said Breeland escaped serious MCL damage and is a quick healer, so he could be ready to face the 5-1 Eagles.

Norman will ramp up his running and exercise this week, and Gruden said "there's a chance" he plays Monday.

The news isn't so good for rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who could miss three weeks or more with a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot, and kicker Dustin Hopkins, whose right hip rotator muscle strain will force the Redskins to work out free agent kickers this week.

Even with all the injuries in the secondary, Washington hasn't yet had to look for external help because it has four 2016 or 2017 draft picks on the roster and able to take on extended roles.

"We are as strong as our weakest link and we always talk about not having the drop-offs," said Fuller, a 2016 third-round pick. "Anybody who is in there, we trust to make plays."

The Redskins have had no choice but to trust their young players, including Dunbar, a 25-year-old converted receiver. Injuries to D.J. Swearinger and Nicholson on Sunday almost forced Fuller to move from cornerback to safety where he saw no snaps at practice, and Moreau had to take over on the outside when Breeland was hurt in the second half.

Moreau, a third-round pick who missed the start of training camp with a torn pectoral muscle, said players follow Swearinger's lead to be ready for any situation.

"We got dogs," Moreau said. "We all trust each other. We all feed off of him, and we know that."

Of all the young defensive backs, no one has made a bigger leap than Dunbar, who was a receiver at Florida. Gruden joked that Dunbar isn't "really smart enough to know the magnitude of the situation he's in" and just goes out and plays.

Dunbar said after what he went through growing up that football's a pleasure for him and he doesn't blink. But he has made incredible strides since shifting to cornerback.

"Mentally I'm a thousand times better," Dunbar said. "I always had the physical attributes, man. It was more mental for me -- just breaking down the offenses, learning what's coming and stuff like that."

That'll come in handy against Wentz as the 3-2 Redskins try to close the gap and keep this a competitive division race.

From the coverage to the pass rush, Washington's defense must be better against Wentz than it was in a 30-17 loss in Week 1.

"We've got to figure out a way to contain Wentz," Gruden said. "He killed us with the off-schedule plays, and he's been doing that consistently throughout the year. That's why they're 5-1. It's a big game for us. We know that."