Each week, we'll take a look at how the Eagles' division rivals fared the previous weekend (SPOILER ALERT: the Eagles are the best) and what they have upcoming. In Week One of the NFL season, Washington's offense was powered by a couple of 2012 Pro Bowlers, Dak Prescott looked like the same guy we knew (and loved) in 2017, and the Giants have a talented running back for the first time since Tiki Barber retired...which still wasn't enough to keep Eli from throwing the game away.
Here's what happened, and what's happening, this week in the NFC East:
ICYMI: The Birds hold sole possession of first no more. Powered by an impressive run game (as well as the ineptitude of Sam Bradford), Jay Gruden's squad crushed the Cardinals in Arizona, cruising for an easy 24-6 victory.
Washington was up 21-0 at half, and that's about as close as this one got. They held Bradford, the former Eagles savior, to eleven yards passing in the first half. ELEVEN! The question of whether that's a product of the Washington D or the man throwing the ball is still up for debate (if you haven't actually watched Bradford play since his infamous preseason game vs the Packers. What touch!).
The Washington running game was raucous, lead by 70-year-old Adrian Peterson (96 yards and a TD) and the Westbrook-esque Chris Thompson (65 on the ground, 63 in the air). GET YOUR THUNDER & LIGHTNING TAKES READY! Meanwhile, new quarterback Alex Smith played better for Washington than McNabb ever did, throwing for 255 yards and a pair of TDs, making him the most successful NFC East quarterback in the 2018 season. MVP! MVP!
All in all, it was a perfect opener for the team that has won just two playoff games since Jeff Lurie bought the Birds in 1995.
Positive Spin: Since The Man is now telling Alex Ovechkin he can't take keg stands out of Lord Stanley's Cup, this is by far the most exciting thing going on in D.C., despite what Bob Woodward would have you believe. We've got that on deep background.
A year ago, the Washington Football Team was devastated by injuries and featured a quarterback who spent all his free-time real estate shopping in Minnesota. To call a franchise owned by Dan Snyder "dysfunctional" seems redundant, but that doesn't change the reality that a lot of last years problems may now actually be behind them.
Smith provides a competent, if unexciting, option at QB. And AP probably isn't even their best option at RB, with Thompson back and fully healthy. Jordan Reed is a top tight end if he can stay out of the tub, and Trent Williams will get to play this season with both of his legs fully functional. All in all, it's a quality roster with some interesting weapons that should make for an exciting season in Washington… at least more exciting than the Nats.
Negative Spin: AP looking great for a game doesn't mean jack; just ask the Cardinals, who watched him run out of gas in their colors just last season (the future Hall-of-Famer had a bad fumble in the 4th quarter when he was required to run for more than eight seconds, so let someone else make the mistake of snagging him in your fantasy football league). Also, it was Andy Reid who traded away Smith, and if there's one thing Big Red is good at (that isn't cheeseburger-related), it's knowing when to bail on a veteran quarterback.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are hot garbage, a poorly-assembled squad just wasting David Johnson's awesomeness and whatever's left of Larry Fitzgerald before they inevitably hand the reins over to quarterback Josh Rosen. Based off of Bradford's injury history, that should be in the next seventeen minutes. Even Danny Almonte would consider them undermatched.
Washington is relying on injury-plagued question marks and rusty veterans to make this season worthwhile. They have the long-term thinking of a gerbil. This franchise is the antonym of Sam Hinkie.
What's Next: Super Bowl 52 Champion Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts, who are probably not very good this season. This should have been a battle between the Top Two picks of the 2012 NFL Draft, but instead it'll just be an easy way for Snyder's club to get to 2-0 right before the Nats fire another manager. But if Foles looks like canned tuna again this weekend and the Birds drop to 1-1 as a result, just remember the tale of RG3 (or more appropriately, the ACL of RG3) and that Good Franchises Protect Their Quarterbacks.
More fun this week in the NFC East: The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.