Eagles at Redskins: Our (cough) expert predictions

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Eagles at Redskins: Our (cough) expert predictions

After picking up their first win of the season last week, the Eagles head to Landover, Maryland, for an NFC East battle with the Washington Redskins (see scouting report).

Will Sam Bradford finally break out? Will the Eagles get their second win? Our experts give their predictions:

Reuben Frank (0-3)
There are a lot of similarities between these two teams. Shaky quarterback, decent run defense, inconsistent offense. Both are 1-2. The Redskins run the ball better, the Eagles are stronger against the pass. Neither has proven it's very good. So consider this more of a statement against the Eagles than a statement for the Redskins.

Until the Eagles put together a complete game on both sides of the football, I can't pick them to win on the road. If this game were at the Linc, I'd pick the Eagles. Against this Washington secondary, Sam Bradford should have a big game. But until he does actually have a big game, it's all a projection. I think it's a 17-13 game either way, and am going Washington only because the game is in Landover.

Redskins 17, Eagles 13

Derrick Gunn (0-3)
I don't trust Sam Bradford and I certainly don't trust Kirk Cousins. Sloppy field conditions could make for a turnover fest. The Eagles run defense is the best in the league, allowing 3.1 YPC, but the Redskins' run D is not to shabby allowing just 3.6 YPC.

The 'Skins have two bruising backs in Alfred Morris, who averages 4.1 YPC, and rookie Matt Jones with a 5.3 YPC. I'm interested in seeing if Ryan Mathews can find success on the ground similar to what he did in the first half against the Jets. I feel more comfortable about the Birds' secondary than I do the Redskins' because I believe the Eagles' D will force more turnovers than the 'Skins' D. I'm leaning the Eagles' way in this one.

Eagles 20, Redskins 17

Ray Didinger (0-3)
This should follow the same script as last Sunday's game with the Jets. Last Sunday the Eagles shut down the Jets' ground game and forced Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw and throw and throw — 58 times in all. Result: Three interceptions, four turnovers in all and an Eagles victory. If the defense is once again stout against the run — and Washington will definitely try to run it — Kirk Cousins will be chucking the ball around and that's bad news for Jay Gruden. 

Also, Washington is lousy on special teams. It already has allowed a punt return for a touchdown and had another punt blocked. I can see the Eagles making a big play here as well.

Eagles 20, Redskins 13

John Gonzalez (1-2)
It occurs to me that if I pick the Eagles each week, my record can’t be any worse than their record.

Eagles 20, Redskins 10

(Alternate prediction: Hurricane Joaquin 1, East Coast 0)

Corey Seidman (1-2)
I don't see how the Eagles lose this one. The offensive line appears to be gaining steam, and with Chip Kelly adjusting his play-calling for more runs under center, those drive-killing losses should continue to decrease.

The 'Skins have a porous pass defense and a true liability in CB Bashaud Breeland. This feels like the game that either Nelson Agholor or Josh Huff comes up with a deep ball.

Washington doesn't have a downfield passing game without DeSean Jackson and won't be able to rely on the run against the top-ranked rush defense in the NFL.

Eagles 27, Redskins 16

Andrew Kulp (1-2)
It's difficult to predict what the weather will be like, let alone what type of performance we'll get out of the Eagles' offense. However, I tend to believe the players and coaches when they say it's closer to getting in sync. The ground attack was better last week. There were opportunities through the air as well. Eventually, I think it will click — maybe as soon as this week.

The key is to get just enough of a running game going against another tough front to give Sam Bradford a chance. A wet field plays to the receivers' advantage, while Washington's secondary will be shorthanded. If there are high winds, Bradford is probably better equipped to sling the ball in those conditions than Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.

It could be another ugly one, but the way the Eagles' defense is playing, they're built to win that way. And should the forecast happen to improve, this might be the week the offense finally opens up.

Eagles 24, Redskins 14

Andy Schwartz (1-2)
For the second straight week, the Eagles face a team with subpar QB. And this time, they don't have to worry about a receiver the caliber of Brandon Marshall. DeSean Jackson is still out with an injured hamstring.

So long as the offense doesn't take a step backward and Caleb Sturgis doesn't miss everything, the Eagles should scratch out another W.

Eagles 20, Redskins 16

NFL Notes: Steelers sign Antonio Brown, franchise tag Le'Veon Bell

NFL Notes: Steelers sign Antonio Brown, franchise tag Le'Veon Bell

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers have signed Antonio Brown to a five-year deal that will reportedly make him the highest paid wide receiver in the league.

The Steelers did not release terms of the contract, but multiple media outlets reported that it is technically a four-year extension worth $68 million.

The contract takes Brown, who earned first-team All-Pro honors for the third consecutive year in 2016, through the 2021 season.

Steelers place franchise tag on running back Le'Veon Bell
The Pittsburgh Steelers have placed an exclusive rights franchise tag on Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell, ensuring he'll remain with the team in 2017.

The tag gives the Steelers time to work out a long-term deal with Bell, who could have become a free agent next month. The 25-year-old led the NFL in average yards from scrimmage last season and became the first player in NFL history to average at least 100 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving per game.

Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert said earlier this month the Steelers want to keep Bell with the organization "for life." The team has until July 15 to reach an agreement with Bell on a new contract. If not, he will make the average salary of the top five running backs in the league in 2017 (see full story).

Browns release veteran WR Andrew Hawkins
The Cleveland Browns have released wide receiver Andrew Hawkins after three seasons.

The team terminated Hawkins' contract on Monday, cutting ties with one of its most respected players.

Hawkins had 33 catches for 324 yards and three touchdowns last season for the 1-15 Browns. But his contributions went beyond the field, as Hawkins helped mentor Cleveland's young receiving corps. He was also heavily involved in community activities.

Browns coach Hue Jackson says it's "tough to say goodbye to men like Hawk, that have done everything you've asked of them and gone above and beyond when it comes to leadership." Jackson says Hawkins "was a rock for us last season."

Hawkins signed with the Browns as a free agent in 2014 after three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. The 30-year-old, who played college ball at Toledo, played in 39 games with Cleveland, recording 123 catches for 1,424 yards and five TDs.

Cardinals: Chandler Jones receives franchise tag
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Chandler Jones after failing to reach a long-term deal with the player.

The "non-exclusive" tag allows the Cardinals to continue negotiating with Jones through July 15. If another team makes him an offer, Arizona can either match it or receive two first-round draft picks.

Under the franchise tag, Jones would receive about $15 million for the coming season.

Acquired in a trade with New England a year ago, Jones had 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 15 tackles for loss last season

Jones has 25 1-2 sacks over the past two seasons, third-most in the NFL over that span.

Panthers: Horton re-signed
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Panthers are trying their best to keep their defensive line intact, re-signing defensive end Wes Horton to a two-year contract.

Financial terms were not released Monday.

The move comes less than 24 hours after the Panthers re-signed defensive end Mario Addison to a three-year contract on Sunday night. Addison was set to become an unrestricted free agent, while Horton would have been a restricted free agent.

Carolina is likely to use the franchise tag to keep Kawann Short if they can't reach a long-term deal with the defensive tackle before Wednesday's deadline.

The 27-year-old Horton started 10 games last season and had 11 tackles with 2 sacks. Horton has started 27 games since joining the Panthers in 2013 as an undrafted rookie and has 8 career sacks.

Eagles storylines heading into 2017 NFL Scouting Combine

Eagles storylines heading into 2017 NFL Scouting Combine

Updated: 3:45 p.m.

The NFL world will take over Indianapolis again this week for the annual scouting combine. 

This year, the combine is taking place a little later than normal. Instead of late February, this year the combine is happening in early March, very close to free agency. 

Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson are scheduled to speak to reporters on Wednesday afternoon (Roseman at 2:30, Pederson at 2:45) while player interviews with the media begin on Thursday. Player workouts will begin on Friday and run through Monday. 

Flip, flip, hooray?
A very important coin flip will happen in Indy this week. The Eagles will end up with either the 14th or 15th pick in April's draft based on the outcome. The Colts will get the other. According to the Eagles' website, the coin flip will happen at 12:30 p.m. on Friday. 

This year the Eagles don't own their own first-round pick. The Browns have it at No. 12 thanks to the trade up to get Carson Wentz last year. The Eagles, instead, own the Vikings' first-rounder thanks to the Sam Bradford trade. The Vikings and Colts finished with identical records and strength of schedules, so a coin flip will decide who gets the higher pick -- in this case, the Eagles are the Vikings. 

Either way, the Eagles should have a really good chance to draft a difference-maker. They've had luck before higher than 20 and the recent history at 14/15 bodes well (see story)

In total, the Eagles will have eight draft picks -- the Vikings' first-rounder, their own picks in Rounds 2 through 7 and a fourth-round compensatory pick from the Browns. That pick from the Browns was part of the return from the trade up to No. 2 last year. It would have been a fifth-rounder if the Browns didn't get a compensatory pick, but they got two. The Eagles take the higher one at No. 139 overall. 

Here's a list of their picks so far by round: 

1 - 14 or 15
2 - 43
3 - 74
4 - 119, 139 (from Browns)
5 - 155
6 - 194
7 - 230 

Coach talk
On Wednesday, we'll hear from Pederson for the first time since just after the final game of the 2016 season. Pederson didn't have a year-end press conference and didn't speak at the Senior Bowl in Alabama in January. 

There are plenty of questions for Pederson, starting with his coaching staff. Since the season ended, the Eagles fired receivers coach Greg Lewis and hired Mike Groh, who held the same position with the Rams in 2016 and with the Bears from 2013-15. In Mobile, Roseman said any decisions with the coaching staff were all Pederson's, so this will be a chance to find out why the switch was made. 

Another question for Pederson is about quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. The Eagles blocked the Jets from interviewing DeFilippo for their offensive coordinator position. While a report surfaced that this decision was Jeff Lurie's, Roseman repeated the line about Pederson making coaching decisions. 

Finally, Pederson is entering his second year as the Eagles' head coach. Last year, he was trying to put together a coaching staff and install his scheme, but this year that's already done. Has he taken a more active role in personnel and to what extent? 

Roseman in his element
The Eagles don't have a ton of guys who will become unrestricted free agents on March 9, but the biggest name of the bunch is clearly Bennie Logan. The Eagles will have a chance to meet with Logan's agent, Todd France, face to face during the week. They saw France last year too, as he represents Fletcher Cox. 

This situation is a little different, though. Cox wasn't scheduled to become a free agent last year, while Logan is this year. Logan is the Eagles' most significant pending free agent. 

While Roseman can use this week to try to work on deals for his own players, he can also float some trades. Guys like Mychal Kendricks, Connor Barwin and even Jason Kelce could be discussed. 

Weird timing
This year, the NFL schedule has the combine finishing just as the legal tampering window (March 7) is set to begin. So basically, the league is putting front office members and agents in the same city days before free agency kicks off and expects them to not talk about players from other teams. Yeah, OK. In any case, it'll be interesting to see what the new schedule changes in terms of to-be free agent talks.  

Cornering the market
Ahh, yes, the real reason everyone is heading to Indy: the actual players on the field. This year, the prized position in the draft looks like cornerback, which should be good news for the Eagles. You might have noticed they're lacking in that area. 

How deep is the draft for corners and rushers? Well, a former NFL GM tweeted this: 

There are as many as eight cornerbacks who could possibly go in the first round and over a dozen who might go in the first two rounds. Some incredible talent. It's just up to the Eagles to find the right one. 

It might make sense for the Birds take a different position at 14 or 15 and then come back in the second round to draft a corner. After all, with how deep the position is, they're bound to get great value in the second, right? Roseman's answer about this scenario was interesting. He pointed to last year's draft, which was supposed to be very deep at defensive tackle. Roseman thought they could get a second- or third-rounder in the fourth or fifth. 

"And what happened was they all went," Roseman said during Senior Bowl week. "And we had looked at it before and in years where there's positions of strength, when you think you can get guys later, what typically happens is there's a run on those guys and [teams] want to get their own guys. So you just have to be careful that you're not sitting there going, 'This is a great draft at position X and we'll be sitting there in the sixth round and we'll get a great guy.' That's why just sticking to your board and not getting cute and just making sure you just get the best player for the Philadelphia Eagles."

Helping Carson 
It's not a great year for receivers in the draft, but it's not a bad year either. The top two appear to be Mike Williams and Corey Davis, but there are plenty of good players who will be available throughout the draft. And like at corner, the Eagles need plenty of help. 

Receivers will speak to reporters on Friday and will be on the field working out on Saturday. You'd better believe the Eagles will be watching closely. 

Just a year ago
While the Eagles this year will be focusing on building around Wentz, last year they were just worried about getting him. For a team that still had the 13th pick while in Indy last year, the Eagles sure spent a lot of time with a quarterback who was going to be a very high pick. 

Really, last year in Indy is where picking Wentz started to become a reality. The Eagles spent a ton of time interviewing Wentz and everyone was involved, including Roseman, advisor Tom Donahoe, Jeff Lurie and a renowned sports psychologist. Wentz, for his part, blew them away. 

As the Eagles were falling in love with Wentz, Roseman was working on a way to make it happen. The first step was moving up from 13. The Eagles eventually traded with the Dolphins from 13 to 8. Those trade talks started in the hotel in Indy, where the Eagles were two doors down from the Dolphins. That, plus Roseman's relationship with Dolphins GM Mike Tannenbaum helped get the deal done. It was the first in a two-step process to secure Wentz as the next franchise quarterback.  

Roseman is more active than most NFL GMs when it comes to making player trades, so don't be surprised if he's back to work this week.