Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins, Sunday, November 12th, 2007
by The Crazy Snake
I shudder to think what would have happened to Philadelphia last week if not for the performance of Brian Westbrook. 16 rushes for 65 yards and 14 catches for 90 yards in an Eagles’ effort that mustered 316 yards of total offense. Westbrook’s 14 catches says a lot about the offensive mind set of Philadelphia and Donovan McNabb at this point. After their embarrassing week 4 loss to the Giants in which McNabb was sacked an NFL record equalling 12 times, they just haven’t looked like a team that had dominated the NFC East since 2001.
If Westbrook has been a dominant part of the Eagle’s offense then Clinton Portis has certainly been the same for Washington. 36 carries for 196 yards last week was a mighty performance from a player who to that point had not rushed for 100 yards in a single game this season. When Portis hits the century Washington nearly always wins, so it’s vital for their season that he be successful. It works!
At this point in a season every game becomes vital. It’s not that every game from the get go isn’t of equal importance, mind you. It’s just that now the lay of the land is a little more obvious and keeping pace in the division is imperative. The Eagles managed to rescue a tenuous grip on the playoffs last season by winning their last 5 games with veteran quarterback, Jeff Garcia under center.
At that time, Donovan McNabb had been taking all before him and led the league in passing yards. 12 months on after a knee reconstruction to repair a torn right anterior cruciate ligament and Donovan looks incapable of the same feats that led him to 5 pro bowls. There is no Jeff Garcia waiting in the wings this season. He has moved to the starting job at the Buccaneers. If the Eagles are to make a resurgence then McNabb will have to do it. The WR stocks are at an all time low. Donte Stallworth is now a Patriot. 14 passes for 90 yards to the running back says it all. Offensive options just aren’t what they used to be in Philadelphia.
The 5-3 Redskins play Cowboys and Indians next week in another traditional rivalry. A win here and next week would put them in the thick of a play off run that would see them vying for a wild card berth at worst, and maybe even an NFC East divisional title. The Eagles at 3-5 know their divisional title is all but gone. 4 wins back of Dallas and losses to all 3 of their divisional rivals means they would lose any tiebreakers should they make a late run.
All that beckons now is the wild card. But playoffs are the furthest thing from the Eagles’ minds. As Andy Reid put it, “There’s a lot of season left here and it’s important that we have an urgency and continue to put maximum effort into each game, starting with the Redskins,” Reid said. “We need to just win back-to-back games. That’s what you need to do, and get yourself on a roll. Things can change quickly in the NFL, but you’ve got to do it.”
The Eagles have won 6 of their last 7 road games against the Redskins. Somehow I think that record was established by a very different team than the one that will take the field in this game. Nonetheless, the Eagles have shown a propensity for rising to an occasion such as this. You don’t dominate a division for most of the current millennium without character. Nobody is questioning that. It just doesn’t seem likely. That’s all.
The Eagles put up a sub par performance in their early season meeting with the Skins and will be looking to atone. There is plenty of motivation for them here and they will be fired up to make an impact. The Redskins did not inspire much confidence with a lackluster performance against the Jets, punctuated by a terrific solo performance from their running back.
This game promises to be a typically close fought battle between two traditional rivals. The spread is 3 points in favor of the home team with some sportsbooks shifting to 2.5. The mark is moving so you may need to be quick if you want to play the dog at the 3 point spread here.
The Snake’s Bite: With most of the recent history on their side and everything to play for I will lean with an Eagles outfit that is still capable of playing quality football on their day. Washington’s overtime win last week left me thinking they are far too one dimensional and will not get away with the same mistakes they made against the Jets here. Back Philadelphia as the road dog with the 3 point start.