Monday night debate: Who'll cover the spread?

Oct 25, 2009 |
By: Ben Folsom and Derek Sarley

We decided to get a little bit more of a bias to our Monday night debate. We got the best perspective on the two teams involved in Monday's game with the help of the best blog site for each side. Derek Sarley of Igglesblog tells you why the Eagles are the team to back, while Ben Folsom of The Curly R explains why Washington is a live dog.

The Washington argument

Ben Folsom of The Curly R:

How do you expect Washington’s offense to respond in the first week without Jim Zorn calling the shots?

Honestly not a lot differently. Most moves so far this season that were intended to create a spark either had no purpose (benching starting strong safety Chris Horton for safety Reed Doughty before Game 4 against Tampa Bay and replacing quarterback Jason Campbell with Todd Collins in last week against Kansas City). 

I tend to agree with former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski that the play-calling is not really the problem in Washington, it is the execution. Sherman Lewis does not know the players well and I do not believe his play calls will be particularly inspirational.

How worried should bettors be about Washington losing Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels for the season?

Very. The story broke that Chris Samuels is done for the season and likely for his career. Chris was on the downside of his outstanding 10-year career and was no longer the same week in and week out facing opponents' toughest pass rushers.

Smart bettors already knew that and factored that into odds. The search begins now for a permanent replacement at left tackle and Levi Jones is not the answer.  

Why do you think the Skins will cover the spread?

These teams know each other very well and tend to play close. Last season's margins were six and seven and 2007's were eight and eight. Heck, the Redskins scored just 10 points at home against the Eagles last season... and won! 

A touchdown to the home side is a good number for this game. I expect Washington's defense to be as annoying for the Philadelphia offense as the Washington offense is to its fans.

Final score prediction:

Philadephia 23, Washington 19

The Philadelphia story

Derek Sarley of Igglesblog:

Was last week’s loss to the Raiders a bump in the road or a cause for concern?

Both. It was a bump because I don't think anyone really believes the Eagles aren't a better team than the Oakland Raiders. There's still plenty of talent on this team and I expect them to be in the NFC mix in a couple months. 

But the loss exposed a few issues. The first is that David Akers is now clearly an average kicker, not the all-world guy he was a few years ago.

More importantly, by the time LT Jason Peters left the game (with an injury that appeared much worse live than it turned out to be), the Eagles only had one lineman playing who had been a projected starter this summer.

Even with Peters supposedly ready to play Monday, and with the gradual return of LG Todd Herremans from his stress fracture starting this week, this is still a group that's going to need a few weeks and some better injury luck to round into form. 

As for the final issue ...

Why isn’t Philly running the ball more?

... which is the lack of any running game. That hasn't been much of a problem this year, because the Eagles have been throwing it so well, but once a team clamped down on their passing game, they didn't really have a Plan B. And while some of the blame falls on the offensive coaches for not calling more running plays, the truth is that the non-Wildcat running game really just hasn't been that effective this year.

The problems, again, seem related to the offensive line issues discussed above. When you have back-ups playing for starters, you just won't be as effective. Westbrook was slowed at the beginning of the season too, but he's looking a lot better these days.

Why do you think the Eagles will cover the spread?

Washington gave us a lot of trouble last year. Their defense matches up well against our offense and we seem to be the one team in the league Jason Campbell looks competent against. 

Still, this line feels too low to me. Almost like a knee-jerk reaction to the Raiders loss, which, while ugly, represents more the performance floor for this team, rather than being indicative of how we can expect them to play most weeks. 

Andy Reid and his staff seem to have done a good job this offseason addressing known issues from past seasons (it's just that new issues have cropped up). Struggling against the Redskins was a known issue. I think there's a plan here to address that. 

It should also be mentioned that the Redskins are a bad team playing for a head coach getting jerked around on a string by his owner.

Final score prediction:

Eagles 27, Redskins 17

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