An impressive win over the Packers leaves the Eagles currently 5-5 and tied for first place with Dallas for the NFC East crown. But the Eagles are an unimpressive 2-2 against divisional opponents, and this could turn into a must-win game if the race with Dallas goes down to the end.
Last week, the Eagles won largely by exploiting several key matchups, particularly DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper getting free against the Packers corners, which in turn opened up space for LeSean McCoy. This week, Washington may be the inferior team on paper, but the Eagles will be dealing with a few key injuries, such as to Jason Peters and Mychal Kendricks. Don't be surprised if this is a close contest.
Here are three matchups to watch on Sunday.
WR Pierre Garcon vs. CB Bradley Fletcher
The Eagles have been using Fletcher more against the opposing team's best wideout, and it has been paying great dividends. Fletcher may not be a shutdown corner, but he is a sound tackler and plays physically. If the catch is allowed, it is usually not for a significant gain.
Pierre Garcon is having a fantastic season, with 803 yards already. But he has only found the end zone three times, so it will be up to Fletcher to keep up that trend.
Fletcher's responsibility here should be to avoid getting beat deep no matter what. He may be forced to allow shorter completions and intermediate routes to prevent big plays.
ILB DeMeco Ryans vs. RB Alfred Morris
The Eagles will be without their most athletic linebacker this week, as Mychal Kendricks is still nursing his knee injury. Kendricks was having an impressive season, already recording 68 tackles. DeMeco Ryans will have to be at his best to make up for Kendricks' absence.
Ryans is having a potential Pro Bowl season, with 89 tackles so far in 2013. More pressure will be on him to perform well and stop Morris, who already has 825 yards on the ground. Last time around, the Eagles were able to force Morris into mistakes, most notably turnovers. They will need a big game from Ryans if they want to repeat that performance.
LT Allen Barbre vs. OLB Brian Orakpo
It seems unlikely that Jason Peters will play, as Allen Barbre has been taking practice reps this week. Without Peters, Barbre will have a tough task ahead of him with Brian Orakpo, a player that has given the Eagles trouble in the past.
Ryan Kerrigan has also played well against the Eagles and may be rotated with Orakpo from time to time in an attempt to exploit this matchup. It will be a lot to expect from Barbre to shut down some of the better pass-rushers in the NFL on his own. Most likely, he will be given help in the form of another blocking tight end or running back.
But Barbre's performance in this game could have huge repercussions, particularly on the Eagles' ability to build an early lead just like they did in Week 1.