The Washington Redskins on Sunday play host to the Philadelphia Eagles and look to improve to 4-1 on the season and 2-1 in the NFC East.
The Redskins, who enter the game following a bye week, are 11-11 record following a week off. Meantime, Coach Mike Shanahan has gone 10-5 for his career in games played following a bye week.
The Eagles are trying to end a four-game losing streak and pick up their second win at FedEx Field in as many trips. The Eagles may own a 1-4 record, but they remain dangerous and are a threat to score at any time. Of Philadelphia’s 13 touchdown drives this season, only one has required more than eight plays.
The Redskins have to control the clock and score touchdowns rather than settle for field goals.
Here are some of the key matchups in this game:
Redskins CBs DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson vs. Eagles WRs DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin
We’ve talked about Michael Vick, and know how much of a challenge he will present for this defense as a whole, and Jackson is nearly as dangerous, as Hall is well aware. Jackson averages 19.5 yards per catch, and Washington likely will give Hall help over the top with safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. Maclin is another threat for the Eagles, and leads the team with 32 catches and three receiving touchdowns, so Wilson will have his hands full as well.
Redskins RBs Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain vs. Eagles MLB Jamar Chaney
The Eagles rank 30th in the league against the run, and a big reason for their struggles has been poor play by their linebackers. With the defensive ends lining up a yard-and-a-half wider than most units, teams have been able to bounce the ball back inside and gain yardage. Whether it’s Hightower or Torain, the Redskins need to capitalize and get the running game going, and Chaney will do his best to make those stops.
Redskins ILBs London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh vs. Eagles RB LeSean McCoy
Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan calls McCoy the best back in the league, and the third-year pro leads the league’s running backs with 5.8 yards per carry and has rushed for five touchdowns. He also ranks among the Eagles’ leading receivers with 19 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns. McIntosh is having his finest season and has been making plays all over the year, so he’ll definitely need to be at his best on Sunday. Fletcher is a reliable tackler and must help keep McCoy in check.
Redskins RT Jammal Brown vs. Eagles DE Jason Babin
Babin leads the Eagles with seven sacks, and although this defense has struggled to stop opponents, Brown and his coaches insist that the unit is close to turning things around. The Redskins’ offensive line must give Rex Grossman time to find receivers because when the quarterback is under he doesn’t do the best job of taking care of the ball. Keep an eye out for defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins up the middle, as he looks to add to his season total of five sacks.
Redskins WRs Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney vs. Eagles DBs Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel
Asomugha and Samuel are a talented duo at cornerback, and they likely will try to disrupt Washington’s passing game by pressing Moss and Gaffney to throw off Grossman’s timing. Asomugha hasn’t been at his best since joining the Eagles, and part of that is getting used to a new system. Moss leads the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdown receptions, but will face his toughest challenge of the season. Gaffney has begun emerging as a go-to guy on third downs, but he isn’t likely to be as open against the Eagles as he was versus St. Louis. This could be a big day for Washington’s tight ends if Moss and Gaffney aren’t able to get going.