ATL: Monday Night Preview  

Tostitos  

'Monday Night Football': Eight things to watch

"Monday Night Football" is one of life's perfect creations.

Coming after Sunday's avalanche of game action, Monday's tilt gives fans a chance to sit back, crack a cold one and allow Jon Gruden's gridiron poetry to wash over the beginning of the work week.

The only thing better than one game on Monday? Two games on Monday.

That's what the NFL has gifted us with tonight, and here's our keys to both affairs:

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins, 7:10 p.m. ET


1. Our first look at Robert Griffin III since January comes packed with questions about his speed and cutting ability on that surgically repaired knee. We're also curious to see how he is used in the Redskins' scheme. On Sunday, we saw the San Francisco 49ers barely employ quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a runner against the Green Bay Packers. Don't be surprised if Redskins coach Mike Shanahan takes a carbon-copy approach with Griffin.

2. Chip Kelly's offense is a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma. But not after tonight. It's finally time to go behind the curtain of Philadelphia's up-tempo, run-heavy scheme, with Washington's defense serving as the guinea pig on national television. Whether you're into mapping Kelly's attack at the deepest levels or watching Jim Haslett's head explode -- this one's for you. Quick tip: Keep an eye on Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, who can do it all.

3. Michael Vick has been whispered about as a passer reborn, but can he stay healthy? Can he endure the rigors of an option attack that leaves him vulnerable to punishment? Most importantly, can Vick sustain drives with his arm? He averaged 2.77 seconds from snap to pass attempt last season, the third-longest in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. That will change under Kelly, but when ESPN's Ron Jaworski was asked if Chip's passing game could thrive in the NFL, he minced no words. "I'm going to say no," Jaws said. "I just don't see NFL passing concepts in this offense."

4. One potential mega-buzz kill for Philly? Its defense, which appeared disjointed and confused in August. For all the talk of Griffin's dynamic ability on the ground, Washington's clearest path to victory might come through Alfred Morris. The second-year Redskins running back is a rare combination of power and agility, and shame on you if you're thinking last year was a fluke. Morris has a shot to match his 1,613 yards from a season ago, especially as the Redskins ease RGIII back in the saddle.

Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers, 10:20 p.m. ET


1. The Texans won't have Ed Reed at safety, but that's no deal breaker. Pass rusher J.J. Watt couldn't dream of a better matchup out of the gate. San Diego's offensive line was a pass-blocking disaster in August. Right guard Jeromey Clary and newbie tackle D.J. Fluker -- making his first pro start -- have the undesirable assignment of stopping the NFL's version of an agitated tornado. Good luck, fellas.

2. Check the game film: Ryan Mathews had a sensational preseason. He's been an easy target for fantasy peeps, but we love young and talented players coming off down seasons. Mathews is due for a bounce-back campaign.

3. The Texans plan to rotate Arian Foster with Ben Tate, a worst-case scenario for citizens who grabbed Foster atop their fantasy drafts. In the real world, this makes plenty of sense for Houston, a team that peaked too early last season before crumbling down the stretch, dropping three of its final four regular-season games to playoff teams. Keep your stars fresh.

4. One matchup to watch (especially on the heaven-sent HD All-22): Chargers cornerbacks Shareece Wright and Derek Cox versus Texans pass catchers Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Not a favorable matchup for San Diego if Hopkins, the rookie, makes a smooth transition into regular-season fare.

The "Around The League Podcast" is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15