The Washington Commanders will take on the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC East rematch at FedExField. Here are five things you should know about Philadelphia ahead of Week 8.
1. They just washed out the No. 1 team in the AFC East.
Since the Commanders' Week 4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, both teams have had headed in demonstrably different directions.
And as Philadelphia enters Week 8, they're coming off a significant 31-17 win against the Miami Dolphins. While Miami did tie the score in the second half with a pick-six, the Eagles put together a strong overall performance by holding the Dolphins' offense, which was first in yards and points per game, to just 10 points. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts, completed 74% of his passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns and helped his offense dominate the time of possession (36:43-23:17). The unit also scored on four of its six red zone trips.
The win was a bounce back for the Eagles, who suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the New York Jets in Week 6. But still, Philadelphia remains first in the NFC East and is one of two teams to maintain a 6-1 record in the league. They're also coming to Washington knowing that the Commanders are struggling since starting the season 2-0 by dropping four of their last five games. The Eagles intend to maintain their NFC East position, while Washington is desperately vying for a division win.
2. Their pass rush presents another challenge.
Handling pressure has been a problem for Washington all year, and it's not going to get any easier with the Eagles coming to town.
For Howell, the sacks are adding up rapidly, as he has been taken down 40 time in the first seven games. The next highest is Daniel Jones, with the New York Giants at 28. Howell's tendency to hold the ball longer than he should, plus some struggles in protection by the offensive line, have made life difficult for the Commanders' offense, which is now ranked 22nd in yards per game after the 14-7 loss to the New York Giants.
The Eagles, who are tied for third with 24 sacks, do an excellent job of running stunts and twists to create gaps in protection schemes for easy paths to quarterbacks. That's also something the Commanders struggled with against the Giants, who brought constant pressure and racked up five sacks before halftime last weekend.
So, in order for Washington to prevent this, they will have to be disciplined and provide Howell with the necessary time to get a pass off while the quarterback works on cutting down his time with the ball.
3. An outside weakness on their defense could rally the Commanders offense.
While the Eagles have a sound defensive line, their secondary hasn't been as consistent. Returning to last week's Miami game, James Bradberry and Terrell Edmunds' attempts at double covering Tyreek Hill were inconsistent, as the Dolphins' No. 1 receiver was held to his third lowest total this season but still put up 88 yards and a touchdown.
Granted, Hill is currently the NFL's best statistical receiver, but the Eagles' inability to limit passing yards has been a problem all season. They rank in the bottom half of the league (18th) with 227.4 yards through the air. It should be noted that the Eagles did recently acquire Kevin Byard from the Tennessee Titans in a trade, which should alleviate some of those issues.
The Dolphins often looked outside to the defensive perimeter to make plays, and perhaps that is a strategy Washington can adopt this week. Washington has wideouts like Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson with remarkable speed to help them build their edge; the inconsistency from the Eagles' secondary could make for a Washington offensive advantage on the outside.
4. Jalen Hurts is an incredible QB- but can the Commanders find his weakness?
Jalen Hurts is viewed as one of the best quarterbacks in the league because he has a potent blend of arm strength, accuracy and improvisation with his legs. Lately, however, he has had an issue with giving away the ball this season.
While Hurts does have nine passing touchdowns, which is tied with Howell for 11th in the league, he also has eight interceptions, which is tied with Jimmy Garoppolo for the most through seven games.
Looking at the Eagles' loss to the Jets only two weeks ago, some critical shortcomings on Hurts' end led to the outcome. He threw three interceptions in the 20-14 loss, which tied a career-high he set in 2021 against the New York Giants. The Eagles also lost that game, 13-7, as Hurts had the third-worst completion rate in his career.
Hurts put up more yard and had a better completion rate against the Jets, but two of Hurts' picks came in the second half, when the Eagles had a two-point and were near midfield on both occasions. It was part of a disastrous second half for the Eagles, who also had two punts, a missed field goal and a turnover on downs in that span.
5. D'Andre Swift will continue to be a challenge for Washington.
D'Andre Swift is an explosive running back who will undoubtedly put Washington's defense to the test. In week 4's face down between the Eagles and Commanders, Swift slid right past a significant gap in the defensive line in the red zone, making for a seamless touchdown -- his second rushing score of the season. Swift will come into this game ready to step up his game from his previous performance and establish the same level of play he brought against Miami.
When Philadelphia and Miami went head-to-head last week, Swift had a solid day with 15 carries for 62 yards and caught all three of his targets for 13 yards. Aside from his touchdown, Swift was held relatively in check against the Commanders, who held him to his third lowest rushing output of the season. They'll need to do so again if they hope to get an upset win over the Eagles in Week 8.