NFL : Skins Vs. Eagles Preview
Philadelphia, PA - In the midst of a tight three-team race for the NFC East lead, the Philadelphia Eagles can't afford a slip-up against the division's last-place club.
Based on the Washington Redskins' play away from the nation's capital, that shouldn't be a problem.
Oddsmakers from online sportsbook have made the Eagles -9 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on the Eagles -9.
The Eagles look to hand the banged-up Redskins a team record-tying ninth straight road loss Sunday, but to do so they'll have to snap a two-game home skid against Washington.
Philadelphia (6-4) is trying to give the NFC East a third different winner in the past three seasons, but the two most recent champions are standing in their way.
The Eagles could have fallen a game behind the New York Giants and two in back of division-leading Dallas with a loss Sunday in Chicago, and entering the fourth quarter down 20-17 it looked like they might. But one drive after rookie running back LeSean McCoy lost what looked to be a critical fumble, he capped a 12-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to lift Philadelphia to a 24-20 victory.
"Before we started the drive, we kind of huddled up and said a few words," said McCoy, who had a season-high 99 yards filling in for the injured Brian Westbrook. "(Donovan McNabb) spoke to us and said, 'Let's go. We've been in this position before, let's do it.' And I think everybody just kind of got together and drove down, inch by inch and play by play."
The Eagles cap a stretch of four road games in five weeks by visiting Atlanta and the Giants to begin December, but in an East race that may come down to which team has the best record within the division, beating the Redskins (3-7) is critical.
Washington has lost five of six since a 2-2 start, but it hasn't been blown out. Five of the Redskins' seven losses have been by eight points or fewer, and they outgained both opponents that beat them by double digits, with four turnovers crippling them in a 27-17 home loss to the Eagles on Oct. 26.
Jason Campbell and Washington's offense outgained Dallas 324-305 on Sunday, holding a 6-0 lead with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Patrick Crayton caught a touchdown pass from Tony Romo with 2:41 to play, however, and the Cowboys held on to win 7-6 and hand the Redskins their eighth consecutive road loss.
"To lose it like that in the end in a hostile situation, it's just so hard,'' coach Jim Zorn said. "Yet, we hung in there. I believe this is a special team of players who will not just chuck things in being 3-7."
A loss in Philadelphia would tie Washington's record for consecutive road losses at nine, set from Nov. 6, 1960, to Nov. 5, 1961.
Unfortunately for Zorn, his list of healthy players is seemingly dwindling by the day. Running back Ladell Betts, backing up the injured Clinton Portis, tore the MCL and ACL in his left knee Sunday, and two other Redskins joined him this week on injured reserved - including guard Chad Rinehart.
Rinehart is the third Washington offensive lineman to be put on IR, and guard Mike Williams is unlikely to play again this week due to an ankle injury. If he can't go, undrafted rookie Edwin Williams will get the start at right guard, becoming the 10th Redskins offensive lineman to start a game.
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (hip) and cornerback DeAngelo Hall (knee) are questionable, while tight end Chris Cooley (ankle) remains out.
"Brutal. Brutal. It's been brutal,'' said running back Rock Cartwright, who on Sunday will make his first start since Dec. 27, 2003 - also against the Eagles. "Hate to lose a guy like Ladell. Hate to lose a guy like Rinehart. We lost a lot of key guys we planned on having for the season.''
The potential loss of Hall could be critical to the league's No. 1 pass defense (161.6 yards per game), while missing Haynesworth for a second straight week may allow McCoy more room to run.
Perhaps Washington's biggest concern, though, is DeSean Jackson. The speedy second-year receiver had eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown in Chicago, and he had a 57-yard TD reception and a 67-yard scoring run in the Week 7 win over Washington.
Jackson also returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown in a 23-17 home loss to the Redskins last season.
Donovan McNabb hasn't thrown an interception in six consecutive games versus Washington, but his TD to Jackson last month was the only one he's thrown in his past three contests against the Redskins.
McNabb has a career 76.2 passer rating at home against Washington, and Philadelphia's offense has produced one offensive touchdown in the series' past two games at Lincoln Financial Field despite not having a turnover.
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