Robert Griffin III is going to torture Philly for the next decade, so the Eagles might as well prevent him from gaining postseason experience while they still can.
Here’s everything you need to know about this NFC East matchup.
Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When: Sunday, Dec. 23 at 1 p.m. ET
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 86 or online at Audio Pass
Betting Line: Philadelphia by 3, according to Odds Shark
What’s At Stake?
At 8-6, Washington has work to do to clinch its first playoff berth since 2007. If the Redskins lose, they’ll quickly fall behind in the NFC wild-card race which involves what seems like half the conference.
At 4-10, the Eagles will secure a valuable draft pick if they keep losing, so another L would be to their benefit in the long run.
Redskins Injury Report (via ESPN, as of Dec. 18)
Robert Griffin III (knee), QB, Questionable
Eagles Injury Report (via ESPN, as of Dec. 18)
Clay Harbor (back), TE, Injured Reserve
Michael Vick (head), QB, Questionable
LeSean McCoy (head), HB, Questionable
Brent Celek (head), TE, Questionable
Kurt Coleman, S, Questionable
Fantasy Start 'Em, Sit 'Em and Sleeper
Start: Jeremy Maclin
Maclin struggled to show any sort of consistency throughout the majority of the season. He has recorded over 70 receiving yards each of the past two weeks, though—the only time this year Maclin has had consecutive solid outings.
Against the 'Skins’ 30th-ranked pass defense, there isn’t much stopping him from making It three in a row.
Sit: Bryce Brown
The Associated Press (via Fox Sports) is now reporting that star running back LeSean McCoy will start in Week 16.
While the Redskins’ secondary needs a makeover, their front seven is top-notch. They boast the sixth-best run defense in the NFL.
Not only is Brown too fumble prone to start, but he also won’t see much daylight and will have fewer touches.
Sleeper: Kirk Cousins
Cousins recorded 329 yards and two touchdowns against the Cleveland Browns.
Sure, their defense isn’t nearly as strong at defending the pass as the Eagles’. But that’s why he’s a sleeper and not a must-start.
What They’re Saying
According to Rich Eisen, Washington could clinch the playoffs this week:
Yes, the Redskins have a playoff clinching scenario, but it's involved: WAS win at PHI + NYG loss at BAL + CHI loss at AZ + MIN loss at HOU— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) December 18, 2012
Jake McClain of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Vick’s season may be officially over as Reid said:
I talked to [Vick] when I made Nick the starter and I'm going to leave Nick the starter for these two games. I think it's important for Nick's development that that takes place. And then we go from there.
Redskins Player to Watch: Robert Griffin III/Kirk Cousins
If RGIII suits up, obviously the most exciting player in the NFL is the 'Skins’ player to watch. If not, Cousins will do as well.
The so-called waste of a fourth-round pick has completed 33-of-48 pass attempts for 466 yards this season and has a passer rating of 101.6. If he continues to play like he did against the Browns, completing over 70 percent of his passes, Washington will be able to deal him for a Day 1 or 2 draft pick if Mike Shanahan’s heart desires.
Eagles Player to Watch: LeSean McCoy/Nick Foles
There’s no point in starting McCoy. Why risk him seriously re-injuring his head over nothing?
If he does see a lot of playing time, the shifty back will indeed be the Eagles’ player to watch. If not, Philadelphia’s QB will.
Does it have a franchise quarterback in Foles? It’s too early to tell, but after a disastrous start, he’s turned it on and is proving he deserves a shot. He struggled last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, but averaged a passer rating of 94.8 in the previous three contests.
Key Matchup: Alfred Morris vs. DeMeco Ryans
If Griffin wins Offensive Rookie of the Year, he should share it with Morris because he’s been spectacular as well. He’s racked up 1,322 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground this season. Morris has been especially hot of late rushing for over 100 yards or scoring multiple touchdowns in each of Washington’s last four games.
Ryans is the Eagles’ leading tackler. He’ll lead Philadelphia’s attempt to shut down the Redskins’ run game and make them one-dimensional.
On the Hot Seat: Andy Reid
If Reid isn’t fired this offseason, Jeffrey Lurie is a big liar.
He claimed a record of 8-8 wouldn’t be strong enough of a season for Reid to keep his job. And will you look at that, the number in the Eagles’ loss column is larger than eight.
Reid has won a ton of games in the city of Philadelphia, but he’s out of time. The Eagles have hit the snooze button on his alarm clock one too many times already.
Las Vegas believes the Eagles have the edge, but the Redskins are the much hotter ballclub. They have far more to lose. And on top of all that, with nothing to play for, Philadelphia is likely struggling with the motivation to prepare as you read this preview.
The Skins will “upset” the Eagles.
Washington by 3
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.