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

Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

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Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

We're deep into free agency, the draft is rapidly approaching and the 2017 Super Bowl champion Eagles are being reshaped into a new team.

Which means it's a perfect time for a Roob's 10 Observations.

1. As the Eagles move on from LeGarrette Blount and reshape the running back position, it’s intriguing to ponder just how good Corey Clement can be. From what I saw last year? I think the kid can be a stud. His touches were limited until late in the season, but how many rookies have had 300 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards and averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry and 13 yards per catch? Would you believe three in the last 40 years? A guy named Jesse Clark with the Packers in 1983, a guy named Adrian Peterson with the Vikings in 2007 and a guy named Corey Clement. It’s tough to project, but he can run, he can block, he can catch, he’s got a real flair for making big plays and a terrific knack in the red zone. Can’t wait to see him in an expanded role.

2. As for Blount, you can’t understate his value to the Eagles last year, both as a running back and a leader. For a guy with his resume to come into that locker room and not once complain about his workload – even when he had no carries against the Chiefs – was remarkable. His selfless attitude really resonated with the young guys in the locker room. And I know a lot of fans were upset to see him go, but as incredible as his Super Bowl performance was, you can’t forget that in the seven games leading up to the Super Bowl he averaged 2.9 yards per carry. And he’s 31 years old. If the reported numbers are correct, Blount’s $4.5 million 2018 salary makes him the 12th-highest-paid running back in the league. Good for him. I wish him well. He was a huge part of that 2017 team. But it made no sense for the Eagles to bring him back.

3. It’s amazing how much money teams keep throwing at Sam Bradford. He’s got 34 wins in eight seasons, he’s never had a winning record, he’s never made a postseason, and on the rare occasions when he’s been healthy, he’s won only 43 percent of his starts. Oh, and he’s missed 42 games since 2013. “He’s our guy!”

4. Speaks volumes that both Blount and Torrey Smith singled out Duce Staley in their tweets or Instagram posts saying goodbye to Philly after joining new teams. Staley wasn’t even Smith’s position coach, and he still singled him out. Blount wrote: “To my main man Coach Duce Staley – You have impacted my life on and off the field and pushed me to be the best version of me I can be and for that I thank you!” Staley is such a natural leader and such a big part of what the Eagles accomplished in 2017. He’s going to be a head coach one day.

5. The Eagles lost Vinny Curry, but they have Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett and Chris Long. They lost Trey Burton and Brent Celek, but they have Zach Ertz. They lost Smith, but they have Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins. They lost Blount, but they have Jay Ajayi and Clement. They lost Patrick Robinson, but they have Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Ronald Darby and Daryl Worley. They’ve lost a lot, but they’re still stocked at every position where they lost someone. Pretty darn good roster planning.

6. I feel like in the wake of Nick Foles’ brilliant postseason, people are forgetting exactly how good Carson Wentz was before he got hurt. So here’s a list of every quarterback in NFL history with 33 or more touchdown passes and seven or fewer interceptions in a season before his 30th birthday: Carson Wentz.

7. I wonder how much Haloti Ngata has left. He’s 34, he’s coming off a torn biceps, and he’s five years removed from his last Pro Bowl. Beau Allen was quietly a solid backup defensive tackle and played a big role in that D-line rotation the second half of the season after Tim Jernigan hurt his ankle. I don’t mind the signing. Ngata comes cheap and there’s really nothing to lose. But it’s been a while since he’s been a dominant player, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in.

8. If you’ve never been to Canton, Ohio, plan your trip now. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a great place to visit any time. But the weekend of Brian Dawkins’ induction is going to be unforgettable. Dawk’s speech is going to be epic.

9. The Philly Special may be the greatest play in Eagles history, but where does the fourth-quarter fourth-down conversion rank? The Eagles trailed with 5½ minutes left and faced a 4th-and-1 inside midfield when Foles converted a short completion to Ertz. If they don’t convert, they lose. That’s gotta be a top-10 all-time play. Maybe top-five.

10. Tight ends with more catches than Ertz in their first five NFL seasons: Kellen Winslow Sr., Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates.

Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

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Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

We all know just how good Carson Wentz is. Heck, the entire NFL knows just how good Wentz is after the Eagles' QB put together a remarkable season with 3,296 passing yards and 33 TD tosses … in just 13 games.

But we and the entire league also know what that means: Wentz is going to get a lot more zeros added to his paycheck soon.

Wideout Torrey Smith, recently traded by the Eagles to the Panthers, knows full well what Wentz's worth is and isn't shy to talk about it, as he did at his charity basketball event in Maryland Saturday evening.

"When Carson's time comes, they're going to need a Brinks truck the size of this arena," Smith, who caught 33 balls for 692 yards and two TDs from Wentz last season, told ESPN's Jamison Hensley while noting the Eagles are taking full advantage of Wentz's discounted rookie deal right now.

Wentz is in the middle of a four-year, $26.6 million deal signed after he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2016. The deal expires after the 2019 season, but obviously, Howie Roseman and crew know this all is looming. And they also know recent QB contract numbers have continued to skyrocket.

San Francisco recently made Jimmy Garoppolo, he of seven career starts but also of five straight wins to end last season after his trade from New England, the richest QB in league history with a five-year, $137.5 million deal. Detroit gave Matthew Stafford a five-year, $135 million deal prior to last season, a few months after Oakland gave Derek Carr a five-year, $125 million extension. Those three are the top-paid QBs in the league.

Long story short: With the way Wentz has performed with 7,049 passing yards and 49 TDs in 29 career starts, he's going to get paid.

And Roseman's acts of salary cap magic are going to have to continue because Wentz is going to get paid sooner than later, and the whole league knows it.