Monday Night Football: Eagles can swoop on bruised Skins
Romilly Evans expects the Super Bowl champions to reassert their flagging authority on the NFC East in a critical divisional dogfight...
"Anyone who can be described as underwhelming by Cleveland Browns fans should carry a wealth warning in this league. And McCoy simply doesn’t look up to it"
Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
Start-time: Tuesday, 01:15
TV: Live on Sky Sports Action
Wentz can regather the reins of a promising career with an MVP effort
The reigning Super Bowl holders have played more like chumps than champs so far this regular season, but there's still time for the Philadelphia Eagles to rip off their ghoulish mask and reveal their dazzling credentials this term. Especially in a distinctly disappointing NFC East in which every team has lived down to expectations thus far. Win tonight and Philly will be back at 50-50 for the season at 6-6, only one game behind the division leaders in Dallas who are 7-5.
So, with Alex Smith's savage leg break in D.C. cruelly ruling the Washington Redskins out of contention, and Eli Manning even getting outshone at quarterback by Odell Beckham Jnr in NYC, make no mistake: a statement victory over the Skins in the wee hours of Tuesday morning could kick-start a renaissance for the Eagles. After all, in this hotly contested campaign, play-off country may never be more open for road warriors this postseason. And, even on the road, Philly will be the one team that no top seed wants to entertain.
After Nick Foles rode to the rescue so spectacularly in the play-offs last year, it's been easy to forget that Philly's main man under centre is Carson Wentz. And while the 25-year-old no longer appears to be his blistering 2017 self, there have been glimpses that his canon arm is returning to full power and precision. The Redskins can certainly recall his former glories, after Wentz averaged a fag paper shy of 300 passing yards and three touchdowns in two games against Washington last term, producing a brace of double-digit victories.
As we've already conceded, Wentz's subsequent ACL tear has seem him slow to recapture that form but the green shoots of recovery are there. Last Sunday's comeback 25-22 over the Giants on Sunday certainly added some second-half confidence and this six-foot-five-inch brute is also finding his feet with his rear wheels. Indeed, he's even more mobile that his towering equivalent in Pittsburgh, Big Ben, a man famed for his unlikely powers of escapology. Similarly, Wentz's burgeoning confidence and ability to break tackles will serve him well again tonight.
Equally important are the improved showings from running men Corey Clement and free agent Josh Adams. Philly led the league last year in runs over 10 yards, and these RBs can consistently move the chains, relieving some of the burden from Wentz. Philly's defense can do the rest, particularly against the oh-so-limited capacity of Colt McCoy at the other end of the park.
Alex Smith's replacement is anything but the real McCoy
Anyone who can be described as underwhelming by Cleveland Browns fans should carry a wealth warning in this league. And McCoy simply doesn't look up to it as a stand-in for the sidelined Smith. Only two star tight ends, in Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed, can get McCoy and Washington out of trouble here. However, it's more likely that McCoy will be told to view discretion as the better part of valour and simply hand the ball off to the evergreen Adrian Peterson.
Worryingly for Washington, Peterson was a little creeky and held out of midweek practice (admittedly, that's not unusual considering AP's advancing years), and is officially still listed as questionable. Moreover, their run game has suffered since guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao were lost for the season, so these bruised Skins just don't have time to heal.
On the other side of the ball, a previously banged-up Philly D is returning to rude health. No further knocks against the New York Giants, and now the likes of lead cornerbacks Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox are nearly all ready to take the field again. Granted, linebacker Jordan Hicks is still struggling, whereas Maddox and Mills don't have the green light just yet, but at least Cre'Von LeBlanc stepped up again to palm away a late touchdown pass from Manning to OBJ last week. When their doughty defensive detail is finally together back, however, no QB will want to face them in the play-offs.
McCoy, of course, has nothing on Manning, and simply won't be able to make enough plays on the offensive side of the ball here to keep pace with Wentz.
Back Philadelphia Eagles (-6) to win on the Match Handicap @ 19/20 on the Betfair Sportsbook
Back Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) to win on the First Half Handicap @ 4/5 on the Betfair Sportsbook
Back Over 26 Home Team Points @ 19/20 on the Betfair Sportsbook
Back C.Wentz to throw for 300+ yards and Philadelphia Eagles to win @ 21-10 on the Betfair Sportsbook