The Washington football team and the Philadelphia Eagles are both overachieving. At 3-1, the Eagles may be the most surprising, led by rookie No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz and one of the league’s best defenses.
Wentz has proven his worth quickly, throwing seven touchdowns and just one interception on 135 attempts. He’s found a connection with top receiver Jordan Matthews, who has brought down 19 receptions for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Matthews is on pace to pass his 997 yard total from a year ago and match his team-high eight receiving touchdowns.
He’ll have a tough matchup on Sunday, likely to see time against Josh Norman. The league’s highest-paid corner has deflected nine passes in five games, the league’s sixth-most. As Bleeding Green Nation notes, though, the corner’s struggled to defend against taller receivers. Wentz may be able to capitalize off of Matthews' three-inch height advantage over the $75 million defender. Regardless of the outcome, Matthews doesn’t expect much chatter from the historically vocal Norman.
"Both times I've played Josh, he's never really talked to me," Matthews told PennLive. "We never really say anything. We just go out and play football."
Philly’s passing game has had some help from the success of its ability to run the ball. The Eagles have posted the league’s tenth-most yards per game on the ground with 119 yards per game, have scored five touchdowns and fumbled just twice. They’re led by Ryan Mathews, who hasn’t had the most success, averaging just 3.3 yards per attempt. But he may find success against Washington’s third-worst rush defense in terms of yards allowed on the league’s most yards per carry. The team has also allowed the league’s most rushing touchdowns with eight.
If Mathews still can’t find his rhythm, Darren Sproles or Wendell Smallwood might. Each have run for 96 yards, with Smallwood averaging 4.8 per carry. Following a week where he rushed for 79 yards on 17 carries, Smallwood wasn’t given a single carry in Week 5 against the Lions, but that could change to exploit Washington’s defense.
On the offensive end for Washington, it may be without its tight end. Jordan Reed missed his third-consecutive practice on Friday due to a concussion he suffered in the week prior. It’s his fifth diagnosed concussion, so he may be held out longer than usual. That could be a problem for Kirk Cousins and Washington, as he’s been their top option with 316 yards on 33 catches including two touchdowns. He’s listed as questionable.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz may have briefly forgotten who he was at a press conference, but Cousins could still be a factor without Reed — though he’s been a little up-and-down this season. He’s thrown for 286 yards per game, but has already been picked off five times. Without Reed, Cousins still has weapons in Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. The three have combined for 739 yards on 61 receptions and four touchdowns. They’ll be tasked to fight through an Eagles defense which gives up just 194 yards per game.
If Washington can pull off the win, it’ll be the team’s second consecutive against the Eagles under Cousins. In 2015, the quarterback threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns in Philadelphia en route to a 38-24 victory.
How to watch Philadelphia vs. Washington
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
Announcers: Kenny Albert, John Lynch, Pam Oliver
Online: Sunday Ticket