Eyes on the Enemy: Washington Football Team
The Eagles will play for the final time this season after they were eliminated from winning the NFC East with defeat to the Dallas Cowboys. It also means that it will be the last Eyes on the Enemy piece for the year. However, this could become a game of friendly assistance rather than the two teams being enemies on Sunday night.
The Eagles have nothing to play for and know that a win will not only take them out of position to earn a top-five pick, it could also allow the Cowboys a chance to win the division if they were to beat the New York Giants. As rare of an occasion as this is, the majority of Eagles nation will be rooting for loss on Sunday. It appears the Eagles are hoping for similar results too, with the majority of their players carrying any knocks or injuries being ruled out for this meaningless fixture. For Washington, this game is everything.
The Season so Far:
The two biggest highlights of Washington's season have somewhat encapsulated this franchise as they have a chance to go from first-to-worst on Sunday night. To start the season, new Head Coach Ron Rivera was diagnosed with cancer and would have to battle it whilst also coaching the team. Not only did Rivera battle cancer, but he also smashed past it and beat his fight with the disease. Alex Smith is also back on the field and is a lock to win Comeback Player of the Year. He replaced Dwayne Haskins in the loss to the LA Rams and has not looked back since. An incredible turnaround for a man that almost lost his life, let alone his leg.
As mentioned above, although the Football Team sits top of the NFC East and has some big standout wins this season. The two battles led by Rivera and Smith is what will really matter for them this season. Making the playoffs having been inspired by two incredible victories from within the organisation will be a bonus for this team.
The Biggest Threat- The Defensive Line:
The Washington defensive line is one of the best in the NFL and has come on leaps and bounds this season. They have been the backbone of the team, and as Eagles fans will know, they have dominated from Week One through to Week 16. Chase Young appears to have inspired the rest of that line to take that step up. Montez Sweat has had taken a huge stride forward in his Sophomore year leading the team with eight sacks and has been a menace in defending the passing game too.
Their defensive line has pushed this Washington defense into the top five in the NFL, as they currently sit fourth in total yards allowed, and third in passing yards allowed. Their dominance upfront has assisted their secondary greatly. It is somewhat reminiscent for the Eagles defense in 2017, as well as the San Francisco 49ers defense of last season. As has been mentioned, the Football Team's defensive line had plenty of joy against the Eagles already this season. Their dominance in the second half stalled the entire Eagles offense, and they will be hoping for similar results on Sunday night. Although Jalen Hurts is a more mobile quarterback, that will not make his life easier. This Washington line is fast and clinical, and with Brett Toth and Prince Tega Wanogho both potentially making their first starts on Sunday, they will fancy their chances once again in a win and in situation.
What to Target- Force Them to Throw the Ball
After watching the Eagles pass defense the last two weeks, you would think that this is crazy. However, outside of Terry McLaurin and the occasional play from Cam Sims, this passing offense is incredibly average. If the Eagles can stop Antonio Gibson, they will force Alex Smith to air it out, and for the most part, he will throw it underneath on a lot of short-yardage plays. With Darius Slay covering their biggest playmaker in McLaurin, this could work to Jim Schwartz's advantage.
Washington will be hoping that their defense can create turnovers and give them good field advantage as they do take their time to drive the field. However, as we have become accustomed to with Alex Smith, he is not a risk-taker. He will take what the defense gives him. Expect to see plenty of small plays, and it is something Schwartz will need to be aware of. It may be his final game in Philly, but let us hope he adjusts to not play his corners 10 yards off the receivers.
Who Else to Watch Out For:
Montez Sweat- As mentioned earlier in the piece, Sweat has taken a huge leap in Year Two of his career. The 2019 First Round pick leads the team in sacks, tackles for loss, has six pass deflections and even grabbed a pick six in the win over Dallas. He has become a man that can do everything, he will be hopeful of having another dominant game Sunday,
Antonio Gibson- Gibson will be stepping up his recovery from injury against the Eagles having made his return against the Panthers. He came into the season expecting to be the teams gadget guy, but following the release of Adrian Peterson, he established himself as the number one back on the team. He has 720 yards for the season and has scored 11 touchdowns in 13 games. An impressive return for the rookie whose performance on Sunday will be key to Washington's chances of victory.