Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nick Wass/AP/Shutterstock (13424984ct) Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) in action during the first half of a NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, in Landover, Md Eagles Commanders Football, Landover, United States – 25 Sep 2022
Washington Commanders (4-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (8-0)
Time/TV: 7:15 p.m. CT/ESPN
The city of Philadelphia has been through a lot recently, watching both their MLS and MLB teams fall just short of winning championships for the city. At 8-0, the Philadelphia Eagles are the City of Brotherly Love’s next hope for a title and are off to the best start in franchise history. They’ll welcome the Washington Commanders to town for a divisional matchup Monday night, a team they handled comfortably on the road at FedEx Field in Week 3, 24-8. Things have mostly stayed the same for Philly since then – they’ve remained relatively healthy and undefeated. Meanwhile, Washington has dealt with plenty of adversity and is coming to town with a different quarterback at the helm in Taylor Heinicke.
The Commanders have seemingly discovered new life with Heinicke at the helm, going 2-1 and coming within a razor’s edge of topping the now 8-1 Minnesota Vikings last week. Despite the quarterback change seemingly giving Washington’s season a shot in the arm, there’s a real argument to be made that it has been the defense’s improvement that has helped them improve their results. The Commanders allowed 26.75 points per game over their first four but have improved that number drastically to just 17 points per game over their last five. Maintaining that improvement against a dynamic Philadelphia offense will certainly prove difficult. Still, it’s safe to say Washington’s confidence level is in a different place now than it was heading into Week 3.
One factor working in Philadelphia’s favor is extra rest, as the Eagles haven’t played since November 3 in Houston, when they topped the Texans 29-17. Philadelphia has won every home game this season by eight points or more and topped Washington in both meetings a year ago. Detractors of the Eagles will point to their plus-15 turnover differential and weak schedule as reasons to doubt the sustainability of Philadelphia’s dominance, but it’s difficult to ignore how overwhelming the results have been on the field all season. The Eagles have allowed the third-fewest yards in the league on a per-game basis and aren’t exactly running into the 2007 Patriots when the Commanders’ 25th-ranked offense comes into Lincoln Financial Field.
Regardless of all the statistics and history pointing in Philadelphia’s favor, familiarity makes divisional games more challenging. The Commanders are familiar with Philly’s personnel and tendencies and have the defensive talent to hang around if Jalen Hurts makes a few mistakes or the Eagles generally aren’t sharp. At 4-5, Washington needs the game like blood in a way Philadelphia probably doesn’t – does that disparity in perceived motivation rear its head and sink the Eagles’ undefeated season? As we see every week in the NFL, you can’t ever count a team out – especially not a divisional foe with a score to settle.