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Week 3 Preview: First NFC East Showdown

Posted Jul 1, 2014

While the anticipation for the first two games of the season is sure to be sky high heading into the 2014 season, it's safe to say this Week 3 tilt will serve as the early season game of choice for fans looking to circle one on the calendar. The intrigue, of course, centers around new Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson, as he travels back to Lincoln Financial Field for the first time as an opponent.

There are, however, many more layers of interest in what is always a heated rivalry between NFC East foes. First of all, the matchup pits the two most recent NFC East champions against each other. What strides will the Eagles defense make in Year 2 under coordinator Bill Davis? How will they handle Jay Gruden's new-look Washington offense with Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris? To wit, what strides will Griffin make after a disappointing sophomore season?

How will the Washington defense fare in its first season without London Fletcher in what seems like decades? Will they have a better defensive game plan than the ones on which the Eagles scored a combined 57 points last season?

Meanwhile, the Eagles and Washington played two memorable games in 2013, the first being the opening Monday Night Football contest of the season in which Chip Kelly unveiled his hyper-speed offense that would take the NFL by storm. After blitzing Washington and jumping out to a 33-7 lead, the Eagles held on despite a late rally for the 33-26 victory. In Week 11, the Eagles and Washington met in Philadelphia, with the former sporting a 5-5 record the latter at 3-6. The Eagles jumped out to a 24-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter but, once again, they had to withstand a furious comeback attempt by a Washington team that refused to die. Alas, an under-pressure Griffin sailed an errant pass into the end zone that Brandon Boykin intercepted to ice the 24-16 victory.

Overall, Washington's offense, even with a hobbled Griffin, ended up finishing ninth in the NFL in yards per game (369.7). However, the unit just could not convert those yards into enough points (20.9 per game, 23rd in the NFL) – especially when taking into account that the defense and special teams, which was historically bad, combined to allow 29.9 points per game, second worst in the NFL. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong and Washington plummeted to a 3-13 record, second worst in the NFL. To make matters worse for Washington, the Rams owned their first-round pick from the trade that allowed Griffin to end up in burgundy and gold.

This year, in the third game of the season, emotions will no doubt be running high. Which team will jump out to a quick edge in the NFC East?

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