The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the more somewhat surprising first place teams in the NFL through the first three weeks.
A lot of that success has to do with quarterback Michael Vick, who after returning last season from a prolonged dog fighting suspension, has not looked as if he's missed a beat. His passer rating trails only one (Indianapolis' Peyton Manning) and is 12th in the league in passing yards.
The Washington Redskins are coming to town this weekend, and the Eagles can improve to 3-1 and keep first place all to themselves for another week with a victory over their division rivals.
Here's five reasons why they'll do just that.
It was bad enough for the Redskins that a red-hot Michael Vick will be entering the stadium on Sunday with no intentions of stopping anytime soon.
It's even worse that the Redskins pass defense won't be able to do much about it.
The Redskins allow almost 326 passing yards a game, which is the second worst in the National Football League. Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw for 497 yards against them in Week 2, which kind of skews that average a little. But they also allowed 30 points to the Rams and rookie QB Chad Bradford this past Sunday, who had only scored 27 points in their two previous games combined.
Expect Michael Vick to have an excellent passing game, which will be a big factor in how the Eagles will take down the Redskins.
The Eagles rushing defense is nothing to write home about. They allow just under 129 yards on the ground per game, which is 23rd in the league. In most cases, this would be a disadvantage going into a game for Philadelphia.
Unless they're playing the Redskins. And what do you know, this is their lucky day!
The Redskins have had a disappointing run offense so far this year, moving the ball only 74 yards per game on the ground. Clinton Portis is the main running back for Washington, although he only got one carry in the second half of their Week 3 game against St. Louis. The story circulated enough that Portis had to come out and say he was still the Redskins main man, and head coach Mike Shanahan had to explain that Portis had a wrist injury that limited his action in the second half.
Don't expect Washington's ground game to have much of an impact on this game, unless they can finally break through against Philly's less than stellar rush defense.
Dating back to late in the 2008 season, the Redskins have lost 11 of their past 12 road games. Their lone road win in 2009 came against the lowly Oakland Raiders.
Pretty safe to say that gives the Eagles an early edge just going into the game. The Eagles went 6-2 at Lincoln Financial Field in 2009, losing against two tough teams in the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles will look to make up for their loss in their home opener in Week 1, losing to the Green Bay Packers 27-20, even after a heroic effort by Michael Vick to get the Eagles back in the game in the second half.
Home field advantage is very important in football, and being on the road is not something these Redskins have yet adjusted to. While they clearly have an edge on the field, the ruthless Philadelphia fans will also give them an advantage off of it.
Now don't get it twisted. I don't think that McNabb is going to be sobbing on the sidelines the whole game while the Redskin defense is on the field, but he has a deep connection with that team and that city.
Philadelphia drafted him. Philadelphia stuck with him through eleven years of ups-and-downs with the fans. Philadelphia believed for that long that he could be the one to lead them to a Super Bowl championship.
That championship never materialized, but the legacy of McNabb in Philadelphia is one that will never be forgotten, no matter the lack of a Super Bowl ring.
It's going to be an emotional time for McNabb, especially during pre-game introductions and Washington's first drive down the field. Everyone is curious to see what McNabb's reception will be like, and you can probably tab Donovan as one of the most curious. He might be focused on returning to his beloved Eagles for the first time a little too much for his own good. It will be interesting to see if the emotional return gets the best of the 12-year veteran.
The Eagles took both games from the Redskins in 2009. In Week 7, the Eagles beat Washington 27-17 in the nation's capital on the back of a gigantic first half in which Philadelphia scored all 27 of their points in the first half.
In Week 12, the Eagles squeaked by the Redskins 27-24, tying the game with under seven and a half minutes to go off an Eldra Buckley touchdown. Philadelphia would win the game thanks to a 32-yard field goal from David Akers with 1:48 remaining.
The Week 12 win was a big one for the Eagles, improving their record to 7-4 and giving them their second of six straight wins which would lock up a playoff spot for them in the NFC.
Since they swept the season series against Washington in 2009, they need to be given the benefit of the doubt until we're shown otherwise.