Phiadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins: Position-by-Position Matchup Preview
The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins meet in D.C. on Monday Night Football this week. It is the first appearance on Monday night for either team. It is the second meeting between the two teams.
In their first meeting, Michael Vick got hurt early and the Redskins running game dominated the Eagles defense, leading Washington to a victory in Philadelphia, 17-12.
I have been undefeated picking Eagles games since I started doing these matchup previews, so join me for a position-by-position look at this Sunday's game.
As always, I will try to be as unbiased as possible and evaluate things fairly.
We all know the Redskins' QB, former Eagles' star Donovan McNabb. McNabb through eight games is having a poor statistical season.
He has only seven touchdown passes and eight interceptions, extremely poor compared to his career numbers. He only passed for 125 yards in the team's first meeting, although he made a huge run on a third down late in the game and he was victorious.
The recent controversy between McNabb and coach Mike Shanahan might bring out the best in Donovan, who rose to the occasion when he was benched in Philadelphia by Andy Reid a couple years ago. The Skins' offense is 12th in the NFL in passing.
Eagles starting QB Michael Vick is back and perhaps playing the best football of his career. The Eagles have not lost a game when Vick has played all four quarters this season. The Eagles are ranked 10th in the passing game and actually are a top-five rushing offense, thanks partially to Vick.
The 'Skins backfield is a little bit banged up as Ryan Torain may not be able to play and Clinton Portis is trying to come back from a groin injury.
The Redskins had success running on the Eagles in their meeting in Philadelphia, but they have not found a lot of success running the ball this season, ranking 22nd in the NFL. If neither Torain or Portis can go, little-known Keiland Williams would probably get the bulk of the carries.
LeSean McCoy is enjoying a breakout season for the Eagles. He had a career-high 12 receptions in the first meeting with the 'Skins.
McCoy and Vick have combined to have the Eagles ranked fifth in the NFL running the ball. It will be interesting to see how Jim Haslett game-plans to contain Vick and McCoy.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Santana Moss is their leading wide receiver with 48 receptions this season for 604 yards, but he only has two touchdowns. He also has only scored once in his last five games and has historically struggled against the Eagles defense.
The 'Skins are struggling to find a viable second option, with Anthony Armstrong only having 17 receptions.
Chris Cooley is an elite tight end, though, and the Eagles normally have a difficult time containing tight ends. Look for Cooley to have a big game in this one.
DeSean Jackson has traditionally struggled against the Redskins, and the combination of Jackson and Jeremy Maclin did virtually nothing against the Redskins in their first meeting. However, that was with Kevin Kolb as quarterback.
Brent Celek has had a disappointing season at tight end, but the Eagles should be able to move the ball through the air.
The Redskins rank 31st in the NFL against the pass, so the Eagles have a good chance to find success in the passing game.
The 'Skins' offensive line was supposed to be much improved after last season. They drafted Trent Williams in the first round of the NFL draft and through the first four weeks, McNabb was sacked only six times.
However, the offensive line seems to have taken a step backwards, as the last four weeks the 'Skins have given up a whopping 17 sacks.
They average 2.9 sacks per game, which is good for sixth-worst in the NFL. Over the last two seasons, only the Raiders have allowed more sacks than the 'Skins.
Jason Peters had his best game of the season last week, and the Eagles offensive line in general has played very well after starting the season rather poorly.
With Michael Vick at quarterback, the Eagles O-line can get away with being beat, because Vick's elusiveness can turn a missed blocking assignment into a big play.
We all know the conflict between Albert Haynesworth and Mike Shanahan. The 'Skins play a 3-4 defense, making this comparison a little difficult.
Haynesworth is tied for second on the team in sacks, but he only has two.
The 'Skins line does not sack the quarterback often, with Haynesworth, Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Adam Carriker, Phillip Daniels, Kedric Golston and Vonnie Holliday combining for just four sacks for the entire season.
The 'Skins defense is ranked 18th against the run and 31st against the pass, so it has definitely been a struggle learning the for this team to learn the 3-4 defense. The Eagles sacked McNabb only once in their first meeting.
The Eagles defensive line has been solid as of late; they sacked Peyton Manning three times last week.
Manning had previously only been sacked seven times the entire season.
Trent Cole is the star here, but in order for him not to see double-teams, the Eagles must get production from Juqua Parker or Brandon Graham on the other side. The Eagles recorded only one sack of Donovan McNabb in their first meeting.
The Eagles rank 12th in the NFL against the run, which is one of their best ratings in recent memory.
The strength of the 'Skins defense is their linebackers.
London Fletcher is one of the best inside linebackers in the league and Rocky McIntosh is solid as well.
McIntosh and Fletcher have combined for 135 tackles already this season and 3.5 sacks.
However, one player the Eagles have to watch for is Brian Orakpo. The second-year linebacker has recorded a team-high seven sacks on the season.
Most of the Redskins' sacks come from their linebackers in this 3-4 defense, so the Eagles have to watch Orakpo, who will rush the passer out of his OLB position for most of the day.
In the first meeting, the Redskins spied Michael Vick while he was in the game, although they did that mostly with a safety.
I am still not a Stewart Bradley fan, but Ernie Sims played very well last week. Moises Foku has been an upgrade from Akeem Jordan, but this group still struggles at times.
It is kind of a mystery how this team has the 31st-ranked pass defense, because their secondary is very talented.
DeAngelo Hall is an elite cornerback and LaRon Landry is one of the most underrated players in the NFL.
Landry is an elite safety, and he will probably be spying Michael Vick like he did in the first game. Charles Rogers and Phillip Buchanan have been successful cornerbacks in this league as well, so this group has talent.
Kareem Moore struggles at free safety, which might give the Eagles an opportunity, but the Skins have done a great job containing Jackson and Maclin in the past.
It's all about Asante in Philadelphia as Samuel had two interceptions last week and continues to be one of the best corners in the league.
Dmitiri Patterson did a heck of a job last week filling in for the injured Ellis Hobbs, and Quintin Mikell seems to be playing better and better each week. It is unlikely that Nate Allen will play, which leaves the other safety spot to unproven Kurt Coleman.
With two unproven players in the secondary, this group could be vulnerable, especially considering the Redskins are coming off a bye and had two weeks to prepare for the Eagles.
Washington's special teams definitely won the first meeting between these squads, as they had a couple big kick returns and did a good job in kick coverage.
Graham Gano is 15 for 20 in field goals with a long of 49 yards. In the return game, one of their return men, Brandon Backs, may not play due to a knee injury.
Punter Josh Bidwell is as pedestrian as they come, with only three punts inside the 20 this season and a punt average of just under 42 yards.
David Akers is one of the best in the business, and Sav Rocca has done a nice job in the punting game. Rocca's average is 46 yards per punt and Akers is 15 for 19 on field goals, but most of his misses came against the Falcons, when Akers missed three field goals in one game.
He has only one other miss the entire season and it was from beyond 50 yards.
The Eagles have not done much in the return game, although last week they did a good job in kick coverage.
Mike Shanahan won two Super Bowls in Denver and is highly regarded as a coach.
However, he has recently come under fire for a questionable benching of Donovan McNabb in a one-score game against Detroit two weeks ago.
Rex Grossman fumbled on the first play, and the 'Skins lost. Since then, Shanahan has made up multiple excuses on why he benched McNabb, leading to many fans questioning how good Mr. Shanahan is as a coach.
However, the 'Skins badly outcoached the Eagles in the first game, with the 'Skins' gameplan being superior to the Eagles.
Jim Haslett is a well respected defensive coordinator and had extra time to prepare for the Eagles.
Andy Reid has been to five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl but has never won the big one, which is something Shanahan has done.
Despite an impressive game plan last week, I am not confident in many of the Eagles' other coaches.
Advantage: Shanahan has rings and Haslett is respected, so Washington gets the advantage here.
Intangibles and Prediction
The Redskins are coming off a bye, which always helps a team.
Also, the Eagles have been heavily penalized this season, and in the first meeting between these two teams, the Eagles were penalized significantly more than the Redskins.
There is controversy and drama surrounding the Redskins due to Shanahan and McNabb, but having two weeks to prepare for a team, plus being at home, definitely gives the 'Skins the advantage here.
This game makes me nervous as McNabb will want to beat his old team again. When faced with controversy in the past, Donovan has played well.
Still, I think the Eagles are the more talented team and I really don't see Washington beating them twice.
It will be a good game, but in the end, I think Philadelphia prevails.
Final Score: Eagles 23, Redskins 17