Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

When: Today, 1 p.m., Veterans Stadium. Line: Redskins by 6A.

TV/Radio: WTTG-5, WBFF-45; WJFK-FM-106.7, WBQB-FM-101.5, WPLC-FM-94.3, WKIK-FM-102.9, WAGE-1200, WNAV-1430, WFMD-930.


1. Protect Brad Johnson.

The Eagles, who love to blitz, can cause havoc. And Veterans Stadium's artificial turf offers a rough landing for anyone slammed to the ground. The offensive line plays with its first lineup change of the season, backup Brad Badger in for injured LG Keith Sims.

2. Stop RB Duce Staley.

Staley is the most reliable component of an offense that is in flux. A powerful runner, he can break tackles with ease. He rushed for 140 yards last week against Carolina.

3. Pressure QB Donovan McNabb.

The No. 2 overall draft pick makes his starting debut, and the Redskins must exploit the inconsistency typical of young quarterbacks. An outstanding athlete, McNabb can make big plays passing or running.


Washington's high-scoring offense came down to earth last week against the Bills after falling behind by 21 points. It's still loaded with talent, but the offense needs to play a more consistent, disciplined game against the Eagles. That means avoiding third-down-and-long situations and holding turnovers to a minimum. The Eagles have some great defensive backs and are ranked 15th in pass defense, so the offensive line must be at its best against the blitz. RB Stephen Davis should have a big day.

Key Matchup

WRs Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell vs. CBs Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor

The strength of the Eagles' defense has been against the pass. Vincent and Taylor are one of the NFC's best tandems -- athletic, quick and with six interceptions this season. Taylor has good size (6 feet 3, 216 pounds). Westbrook and Connell are averaging 18.4 and 19.6 yards per catch, respectively.


With QB Doug Pederson struggling, Coach Andy Reid has decided it's time to start rookie Donovan McNabb. McNabb has completed 22 of 51 passes for 166 yards, with no TDs and one interception. Still, the Redskins' 31st-ranked defense is up against a big arm, quick legs and lots of talent -- if not polish. Handing off to Staley, the NFC's second-leading rusher, would be the more reliable course. If the Redskins' defense wants to prove it's better than its statistics, this is the game to do so.

Key Matchup

LT Tra Thomas vs. DE Marco Coleman

With McNabb making his first start, the Redskins want to force him into making poor decisions. That means generating more pressure than they have been. To that end, Coleman, at RDE, draws a tough assignment: second-year T Thomas, who is 6-7, 349 pounds and was the Eagles' first-round draft pick in 1998. The Eagles' offensive line has allowed 33 sacks in nine games.


Punter Matt Turk, who was booed by the home crowd last week for shanking two punts (32 and 29 yards) in his first game back from surgery on his broken finger, wants to show that his steadiness has returned. Return specialist Brian Mitchell has been off last season's pace, but Coach Norv Turner insists it's not his speed, but the team's blocking, that has been inadequate.