Eagles vs. Redskins: Top Storylines as NFC East Rivals Clash on Monday Night
Bitter rivals are set to clash on Monday Night Football as the Philadelphia Eagles prepare to battle the Washington Redskins in Week 1.
The two NFC East foes had starkly different seasons last year.
Washington, led by rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, finished 10-6 in the regular season last year before losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs. After starting 3-6, the Skins ripped off seven straight victories to win the division.
Philadelphia is going through a period of major change.
The Eagles finished 4-12 in Andy Reid's final season in town, prompting team management to dismiss the longtime head coach in favor of Oregon's Chip Kelly. Philly returns quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy and wideout DeSean Jackson to the lineup, but questions persist on both sides of the ball.
Though entering the year on different notes, one similarity sure to characterize both teams is a strong offensive output. Per this tweet from the NFL Network, former All-Pro running back Marshall Faulk expects the game to be a shootout:
With a 1-0 start and divisional bragging rights on the line, the latest chapter in the Eagles-Redskins rivalry is poised to be one of the most intriguing in recent memory. To prepare you for the action, here are a few of the top storylines to follow.
Who: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
When: Monday, Sept. 9, at 6:55 p.m. ET
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
Spread: Washington (-3.5), according to Vegas Insider
Over/Under: 51.5, according to Vegas Insider
There have been over 150 previous meetings between the Eagles and Redskins.
Heading into the 2013 opener, Washington has a slight lead in the series (80-74-1) and won both games over Philadelphia in 2012. Out for revenge, the Eagles will have their hands full in reversing that trend in hostile territory on national television.
The NFC East is up for grabs this year. Dallas edged out a tough victory over New York on Sunday night, the first of what should be a number of heated inter-division games during the 2013 regular season.
Familiar faces and new ones abound on both sidelines, but don't make the mistake of confusing player turnover with a lack of respect for history. Blood will be spilled, and neither franchise will go quietly this night in a heated atmosphere at FedEx Field.
Debut of Chip Kelly's Offense in Philly
Music. Motion. Speed. Confusion. Excitement.
If the Eagles offense unveiled something we've never seen before in the NFL on Monday night, I'm not sure anyone watching at home would be too terribly surprised.
As Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com noted in his build-up piece for the game, Kelly is set to unveil the full brunt of his offensive philosophy against the Redskins.
And that is a sight worth seeing.
Whether or not Kelly's offense puts up half of what he average with the Oregon Ducks is irrelevant. There's a culture shift happening throughout the NFL, as QBs like Colin Kaepernick, RG3, Russell Wilson and even Terrelle Pryor are forcing offensive coordinators to expand their vocabulary.
Kelly already has that vocabulary down pat. According to ESPN's Ed Werder, the Washington defense hardly knows what to expect when lining up against Philadelphia's first-team offense in the first quarter:
Redskins DC Jim Haslett has had players watch Chip Kelly film from Oregon and Eagles preseason and still say not sure what to expect #MNF— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) September 5, 2013
Change can be scary, but it can also lead to a new way of thinking. We'll see how similar Kelly's NFL offense is to his college one—and if it can produce points at the professional level on Monday night.
All summer, RG3 has been "all-in" for Week 1.
Week 1 is here, and Griffin is expected to trot out with the starting offense on Washington's opening possession.
RG3 was the NFL's version of NBA star Derrick Rose this year. After tearing his ACL in the postseason skirmish with Seattle, Griffin needed knee surgery for the second time since high school. The biggest question surrounding his return was simple.
When will be the right time to return?
Apparently, the doctors, head coach Mike Shanahan and Griffin himself feel Week 1 is the answer to that question.
Griffin is Washington's franchise player. Kirk Cousins has filled in admirably when Griffin has been bit by the injury bug, but the offense is more dynamic when No. 10 is on the field. For all intents and purposes, his knees might be the most important body parts in the city.
Hyperbole aside, it should be fun to see Griffin back in action. Conversely, it will be interesting to see if he has lost a step. More than any other factor at play, Griffin's return to the field will be the biggest storyline to follow.
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