Philadelphia Eagles v. Washington Redskins: 5 Things To Look For
Week 10's Monday Night Football match up features a historic NFC East rivalry between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.
The teams come in separated by only a game with the Eagles at 5-3 and the Redskins sitting at 4-4, and with the Giants losing to Dallas this week, it opens the door for either team to close the gap in the division and cut into the Giants already slim lead.
Last time these teams met, it was Week 4 and an injury to Michael Vick forced Kevin Kolb into action. The Eagles couldn't seem to get in a rhythm, and lost an ugly game 17-12 at home.
Now, they have to travel into Redskins country to face a Washington team coming off a bye, and surrounded by a little drama in the locker room.
Before the bye, the Skins lost to the Lions in Detroit. The game was back and forth and Washington had a chance late to drive for the winning score. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan decided to have Rex Grossman lead the two-minute offense and he benched starter Donovan McNabb. Grossman was sacked on the first play, fumbling the ball. Ndamukong Suh picked up the football and scored, putting the nail in the coffin for the maroon and yellow.
After the game, Shanahan said it was because he believed McNabb didn't have a grasp of the two-minute offense yet, and indicated that it could have been attributed to the fact that he was a little out of shape.
This caused controversy that has subsided.
This week's game is sure to take a different shape than the first, and here are 10 things you should look for going into this in-division battle.
1. Ryan Torain Will Set the Tone
Even though the numbers this season would indicate differently, Ryan Torain will set a nice pace for the Redskins offense early in this game.
Philadelphia's linebackers are a little undersized, and Torain's big frame and bruising running style will counter the speed of the Philly defense well. Juqua Parker and Broderick Bunkley are also a little banged up, so it will be interesting to see if they can be as effective as when they are fully healthy.
Mike Shanahan's offense is based around establishing the run and stretching the field with long shots down field, so expect a heavy dose of Torain early to open up some passing lanes for McNabb to get the ball to his receivers.
So far this season, Torain has 391 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
2. A Big Day from Michael Vick
After missing three games because of a rib injury he suffered in the first match up with Washington, Vick is going to want to make the statement he couldn't make at home in front of the away crowd.
He has been one of the most efficient passers in the league, and against the 31st ranked pass defense of the Redskins, things could get messy if Vick gets in a groove. DeSean Jackson being healthy also doesn't bode well for DeAngelo Hall and the Redskins secondary.
Aside from his passing, Vick has been extremely effective running the ball as well. In the win against Indianapolis last week, Michael had two big runs in the fourth that set his team up to win the ball game. He is picking his spots to take off nicely and continues to show off his improved pocket presence.
The Redskins' defense is also a little older and a little slower, so the speed of Vick can really cause problems for them.
3. Donovan McNabb To Play the Entire Game
After Donovan McNabb was benched in favor of Rex Grossman, there was a lot of talk in Washington of trust issues and whether or not Shanahan and McNabb saw eye to eye on the situation.
They probably still don't see it the same way, but the disagreement has been squashed and its time for the Redskins to focus on the task at hand.
Shanahan's move to use Grossman completely backfired and make him look bad, so don't expect to see Rex on the field today. McNabb had two weeks to answer questions and prepare himself—and his body—to play the Eagles.
Maybe he was out of shape for the Detroit game, but I guarantee he feels like he has something to prove and he won't be missing any snaps—barring injury—in this game.
4. A Long Touchdown for Anthony Armstrong
After Ryan Torain establishes the rushing attack for Washington, McNabb will look to the air and his favorite guy to throw it deep to this season has been rookie Anthony Armstrong.
He has averaged 21.6 yards per reception and has really turned it on in recent weeks. He has three catches of 48 yards or more in the past five weeks and continues to show immense improvement in his route running and pass catching, earning him more and more targets each week.
In the first game against Philly, Armstrong's only catch was a 57-yard bomb and I fully anticipate another big catch like that, this time for a touchdown.
Eagles' safety Nate Allen is out and so is starting corner Ellis Hobbs, so Donovan is definitely going to look to exploit that weakness. Armstrong his long and he has tremendous speed and with a back up matched up on him, its a recipe for multiple opportunities to make big plays.
5. A Slim but High Scoring Victory for Philadelphia
This rivalry is one of the most heated and historic in the NFL. These two teams have been battling it out on the gridiron for decades and this game is a guaranteed barn-burner.
The Redskins are at home which means offense will be a plenty, and with the injuries to the Philly defense, the offense will have a big day.
The problem is, the Philadelphia offense is fully loaded and healthy as a can be. Michael Vick is a man on a mission this season and I don't think the Redskins' defense is potent enough to contain this high-powered bunch.
Vick will throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns en rout to a 34-30 victory to tie the New York Giants for the division lead in the NFC East.
Phil Lombardo is a Bleacher Report writing intern and a senior journalism/mass communications major at St. Bonaventure University.
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