An intriguing scenario has been set up for the early Monday night football game that takes place at 7:05 PM ET, as the Washington Redskins, a playoff team last year, play host to the Philadelphia Eagles.
There are a lot of questions surrounding this one, including whether the Redskins’ multi-talented quarterback, Robert Griffin III, can bounce back from his knee injury and whether Chip Kelly’s new offense with the Eagles can confuse NFL defenses enough to keep them off-balance.
In the Monday night football betting odds that have been placed on this game at Bovada.com, the Redskins are the favorites at home:
Washington Redskins -4
Philadelphia Eagles +4
Over 52.5 Points -110
Under 52.5 Points -110
For Kelly, it is an opportunity to speed things up the way he did at the University of Oregon. With the Ducks he had a spread offense, and the pace at which it played made it so difficult for the enemy defense to line up and / or make substitutions. He had a machine, rolling up almost 45 points a game, and although he will undoubtedly encounter more resistance in the NFL, there have already been some indications that it was going to catch some defensive coordinators unaware. Michael Vick, the quarterback who was named the starter and has the mobility to operate with aplomb in Kelly’s system, says that fans, who has witnessed a few formations that they were not too familiar with, hadn’t seen anything yet. He called the offensive approach in the pre-season “vanilla.”
For the Eagles (a +165 money line underdog in Monday night football betting at Bovada) wouldn’t be a bad idea for Vick to be a little riskier in terms of his decision-making. He has thrown 24 interceptions in his last 23 games, and the ten interceptions he tossed last season when he was healthy contributed to the team’s total of 37, which tied Kansas City for the most in the NFL.
There should be enough weaponry for the Philadelphia offense to do some damage. LeSean McCoy is one of the league’s best backs when he is healthy, and Bryce Brown is an explosive backup. DeSean Jackson is capable of taking any pass the distance. Brent Celek is easily one of the NFC’s best tight ends. Jason Peters, one of the NFL’s top left tackles, is also back.
It’s on defense where the Eagles might suffer a little more. The team has hired its fourth different defensive coordinator in the last four years (Bill Davis), and with six new starters on that unit, well, let’s just say that there is a lot of coordinating that has to be done. The most significant addition was probably Connor Barwin, a linebacker who was with the Houston Texans last season.
More people are probably anticipating the comeback of Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III. The rookie sensation injured his knee and had to undergo surgery in early January, and he’s had a lot of work to do getting back into football shape. There were some differences between him and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan regarding the timetable for this comeback as it pertained to participation in drills and pre-season games, and it became public.
The speculation as it stands now surrounds whether Griffin is coming back too soon, which would make him vulnerable to getting hurt again. That’s a question that can only be answered on the field. What NFL bettors are probably also asking is how much Griffin will actually run; after all, he gained 815 yards on the ground last year, and that was a big part of his winning formula. Shanahan has had a way of making things work with no-name running backs, and he found another one last season in Alfred Morris, who racked up over 1600 yards to finish behind only Adrian Peterson in the NFC. Can he shoulder the load again?
Griffin threw for 3200 yards, with 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions last season. He has a healthy receiving corps, with Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan and Fred Davis back. He may have to throw the ball a little more.
The Redskins (a -190 favorite at Bovada) have to improve on defense. They were 30th in the league in defending the pass last year, and they are looking to get some more pressure on the passer. They will rush at least five on passing downs, and they are anxious to employ Brian Orakpo, who missed most of last year with a torn pectoral muscle.
Washington, with its +17 turnover ratio last season, had a solid 11-6 record against the spread, while Philadelphia was a dismal 3-13 ATS. We don’t know if those numbers are going to reverse themselves, but it will be interesting to see how things get underway in what should be a memorable 2013 campaign.