PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS
SERIES HISTORY: 164th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 85-73-5. The series became one-sided recently with Washington winning five in a row, including the NFC East-clincher in Philadelphia in 2015. The Eagles haven't won at FedEx Field since the season opener in 2013. Three of the Redskins' five consecutive wins have come by a field goal or less. Washington holds the lone win in the postseason -- 20-6 in a 1990 NFC wild card game in Philadelphia.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Eagles are desperate to snap a five-game losing streak against their NFC North rivals, but in order to do so they must control the line of scrimmage on offense. Otherwise, Washington's defensive line will be able to heap pressure on second-year quarterback Carson Wentz and keep Philadelphia's new-look running game in check.
The Eagles added LaGarrette Blount during the offseason after RB Ryan Mathews led the team with a paltry 661 rushing yards in 2016.
In addition to the defensive line, Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan can be a difference maker. He has 9 1/2 career sacks against the Eagles, including 3 1/2 last season.
When the Redskins are on offense, Kirk Cousins will need to maintain his proven ability to make good decisions against the Eagles' secondary. Cousins has passed for 1,579 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions in five games against Philadelphia. Not bad -- and not likely to stop now, despite the free-agent defections of wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Cousins' top weapons in the passing game include Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder, who both could be primed for impressive statistical seasons.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Redskins LG Shawn Lauvao and RG Brandon Scherff vs. Eagles DT Fletcher Cox and DT Tim Jernigan. The battle in the trenches should be physical and fascinating between these two longtime division rivals. Cox led the Eagles with 6 1/2 sacks last season, but his impact on run defense might be even more important. Jernigan will make his team debut after Philadelphia acquired him from Baltimore during the spring.
--Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery vs. Redskins CB Josh Norman. This should be fun. Jeffery will be amped up in his first game with the Eagles, who signed him during the offseason. His first test comes against Norman, who notched three interceptions and 19 pass breakups in 2016. Jeffery possesses a size advantage against Norman and could win a jump ball or two in the end zone if QB Carson Wentz lobs it up.
EAGLES NOTABLE ROOKIE: Defensive end Derek Barnett. An outstanding pass rusher who broke Reggie White's sack record at Tennessee, Barnett will be part of a four-man rotation at end and should flourish in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's wide-nine scheme.
REDSKINS NOTABLE ROOKIE: Defensive end Jonathan Allen. The Redskins did not expect Allen to be there at No. 17 overall in the draft, but concerns over possible shoulder arthritis and a deep group of defensive linemen caused him to fall. Allen had a solid training camp and is expected to play immediately in nickel packages, if not in the base 3-4. He did not look out of place during camp or preseason games and showed savvy pass-rush moves for his age.
FAST FACTS: Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall has 43 career interceptions, which is most among active NFL players. ... TE Zach Ertz led the Eagles with only four touchdown receptions last season. ... Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan has started 96 games in a row, which is the second-longest streak in the NFL behind only Lawrence Timmons (101). ... Eagles LB Nigel Bradham has two 100-tackle seasons in the past three years, including a team-leading 102 stops in 2016.
PREDICTION: What an intriguing matchup to start the season. In a hard-fought, narrow contest, the Eagles will emerge with a road win thanks to the development of Carson Wentz and the arrivals of veteran free agents such as Alshon Jeffery and LeGarrette Blount.
OUR PICK: Eagles, 23-21.