September 15, 2007

Eagles vs Redskins Preview

Are you Ready for Some Football?

Donovan McNabb returns to the scene of his devastating knee injury on Monday night, when the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback leads his team into the latest installment of a division rivalry with the Washington Redskins.

McNabb will be playing his first meaningful game at Lincoln Financial Field since last Nov. 19th, when he tore his right ACL after being nudged out of bounds by Tennessee Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. The five-time Pro Bowl honoree would miss the final eight games of the 2006 campaign, and would watch as backup Jeff Garcia rallied Philly from a 5-5 start to a 10-6 record and a division title.

Garcia is now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and McNabb is attempting to work himself back to 100 percent health.

After appearing sparingly in the preseason, the Syracuse product played to mixed reviews in last week's 16-13 loss at Green Bay.

McNabb completed just 15-of-33 passes for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the defeat, running his career record to 3-5 in Week 1 starts.

On Monday, McNabb will be trying to keep Philadelphia from its first 0-2 opening since 2003.
The Redskins, meanwhile, will be attempting to build on last week's 16-13 overtime win over the Dolphins, and will also be trying to reverse some dismal recent history against the Eagles.
Washington is 2-9 in its last 11 meetings with Philadelphia, and has averaged just 14.2 points per game over that span.

The Redskins hold a 74-64-5 lead in their all-time series with the Eagles, but were swept in a home-and-home by their NFC East rival last season. Washington was a 27-3 loser at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 10, and dropped a 21-19 decision at FedEx Field in Week 14. Washington swept a 2005 home-and-home with Philly, including a 31-20 road win.

In addition to their regular season advantage, the Redskins won the only postseason meeting between the clubs, a 20-6 road triumph in a 1990 NFC First- Round Playoff.

Washington head coach Joe Gibbs is 19-12 against the Eagles in his career, including the aforementioned playoff victory. Philadelphia's Andy Reid is 11-5 versus the Redskins since taking over in 1999, including 4-2 against Gibbs.

The strength of the Redskins offense in their win over the Dolphins was the running game, which saw Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts combined for 157 yards and a touchdown on 34 combined carries. Portis led the way with 98 yards and a score on 17 totes, in what was his first action since his 2006 ended prematurely due to a broken hand. The former Pro Bowler scored Washington's only touchdown of the day, a 19-yarder in the third quarter. Quarterback Jason Campbell was not at his sharpest, finishing the day 12-of-21 for 222 yards with two interceptions, and failing to throw a touchdown pass in a start for the first time in his young career. The club did see some progress in the receiving game however, with Antwaan Randle El turning in a career-best 162- yard day. Usual top targets Santana Moss (3 receptions, 28 yards) and tight end Chris Cooley (1 reception, 10 yards) were not as productive, however. Washington also lost right tackle Jon Jansen for the season due to a broken ankle in the victory.

A new-look Eagles linebacking corps looked good in the season-opening loss to Green Bay, but will face a much tougher task in facing Washington's stronger running game. New starters Takeo Spikes (9 tackles), Omar Gaither (3 tackles), and Chris Gocong (3 tackles) were at the heart of a unit that allowed just 46 ground yards on the day, while third-year man Mike Patterson contributed 10 stops and a sack from his interior line position. The pass rush received high marks against the Packers as well, with ends Trent Cole and Jevon Kearse combining for two of the team's four sacks on the day. In the secondary, cornerback Sheldon Brown was credited with his first interception of the season, but the Eagles took a hit when corner Lito Sheppard was lost for up to a month with a knee problem.

Though McNabb will garner most of the headlines for Philadelphia in the build- up to Monday's contest, Washington will likely be just as focused on stopping running back and D.C-area native Brian Westbrook. The former Pro Bowler highlighted the Eagles' Week 1 loss, leading the Birds in both the ground (20 carries, 85 yards) and pass-catching games (6 receptions, 46 yards). McNabb will try to get his receivers more involved this week, specifically Reggie Brown (1 reception, 14 yards), Kevin Curtis (2 receptions, 53 yards), and tight end L.J. Smith (2 receptions, 14 yards), who were all mostly quiet in defeat. McNabb's most productive target was second-year man Jason Avant, who hauled in three passes for 54 yards and scored the club's lone touchdown of the day on a nine-yard play in the second quarter. McNabb was sacked just once against Green Bay.

A Redskins defense that had major trouble making plays in 2006 made a bit of progress against the Dolphins, managing to pry a turnover away from Miami and even getting to quarterback Trent Green for a couple of sacks. Linebacker Rocky McIntosh forced a Jesse Chatman fumble that was recovered by cornerback Shawn Springs in the second quarter, though the Redskins were unable to turn the miscue into any points. The sacks went to the blossoming McIntosh and defensive end Andre Carter, who built on a strong final month of '06 with his first QB takedown of the year. New faces in the Washington defensive lineup included middle linebacker London Fletcher, who made a team-best 12 tackles, and rookie safety LaRon Landry, the club's first-round draft pick who contributed three sacks to the proceedings. The Skins allowed just 273 yards of total offense in the win, including 66 on 20 carries in the ground game.

McNabb and Portis were both seen as risky Week 1 fantasy plays, since managers weren't sure what either player would do coming off of their injuries. Those that started McNabb were likely disappointed, while those who put Portis in the lineup were largely rewarded for the risk. McNabb should get better from Week 1 to Week 2, and is worth starting.
Elsewhere for the Eagles, Westbrook always puts up numbers, David Akers is a reliable kicker, and the defense tends to turn in a few big plays. Stay away from this team's receivers, however. Washington has little to recommend besides perhaps Portis and maybe hot-and-cold tight end Chris Cooley, though kicker Shaun Suisham (three field goals last week) might get some consideration in a few leagues. Those who start Randle El based on last week's performance are likely to get burned - last Sunday was just the second 100-yard receiving game of the wideout's six- year pro career.

Though these opponents experienced opposite results in Week 1, both showed a great deal about the teams they will likely become. The Redskins barely beat a pretty poor Dolphins club, not displaying much offensive consistency and still searching long and hard for big plays on defense. The Eagles lost to an inferior Packers team based mainly on special teams gaffes, but played reasonably well on defense and showed most of their rust on offense, where McNabb is not 100 percent. As he gets closer to full health, look for the quarterback to begin looking like himself again, and for Philly to restore its winning ways. Meanwhile, look for the same old Washington team to begin receding into its familiar place in the darkness with a loss on Monday night, setting suffering Skins fans up for yet another journey to the land of sub-.500.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eagles 28, Redskins 10

1 comment:

Rae Carruth's Trunk said...

Well, for all your shit talking, you were painfully wrong. Enjoy 0-3 after the Lions knock you out next week.

That will be embarrassing. Time to call WIP and act persecuted.