The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles face off on Sunday to conclude the 2011 seasons for both teams. The Eagles enter the game as nine-point favorites and earlier this season beat the hosting Redskins 20-13.
With nothing on the line but pride, Washington’s players seek to close out the season on a positive note to avoid ending the year with a 5-11 mark, which would be one loss more than last season.
Earlier we went over the five story lines for this game. Now here are some of the key matchups.
WSH LT Willie Smith, RT Jammal Brown vs. PHI DEs Trent Cole, Jason Babin
The Washington Redskins’ tackles on Sunday will face a defensive end tandem that boasts a combined 28 sacks. Babin, who lines up on the left end, ranks second in the NFL with 18 sacks while Cole has 10. Smith has gone through a fiery baptism in the last three games, facing Andre Carter, Jason Pierre-Paul and Jared Allen. He’ll close out his campaign with Cole, who was injured and didn’t play in the last game against the Redskins. Babin recorded two tackles, but no sacks against Washington last time. Smith and Brown will try to fend off both and give Rex Grossman time to throw. But if Babin and Cole can get to the quarterback often, the chances of Grossman turning over the ball either through interception or fumble increases dramatically.
WSH LBs London Fletcher, Perry Riley vs. PHI RB LeSean McCoy
Washington’s defensive players will have their hands full as they try to account for Michael Vick, but McCoy is nearly as dangerous, and last time he faced Washington, he racked up 126 yards on 28 carries. Fletcher is averaging 10.8 tackles a game, and Riley has added 9.1 tackles a game in seven starts. “We’ve got to be sure tacklers,” Riley said. “We’ve got to wrap up.” Otherwise, the shifty McCoy will have another prolific day.
WSH WR Jabar Gaffney vs. PHI CB Nnamdi Asomugha
Gaffney enters Sunday’s game needing just 81 yards to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. He has been a reliable target for Rex Grossman, and in the last three games has averaged six catches and 84 yards per outing. Asomugha, who has three interceptions, ranks among the best cover corners in the league, but Gaffney is up for the challenge. The two have faced each other often in the past, and Gaffney says the key is to “go right at him, and don’t show him anything.”
WSH CBs DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson vs. PHI WRs Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson
The Redskins cornerbacks face a speedy, talented tandem in Maclin and Jackson, who have given them fits in the past. Maclin has 55 catches for 754 yards and five touchdowns, and Jackson has 54 catches for 875 yards and three touchdowns. In their last meeting, Maclin had the biggest impact, torching Washington for five catches for 101 yards. Wilson has played well as of late while Hall has had his ups and downs.