By Kevin McGuire
After two straight losses at home put the playoff hopes of the Philadelphia Eagles on thin ice, the Birds get right back to work on Sunday on the road against Washington. The Eagles need to win their final two games of the season in order to keep a shot at the playoffs in sight. Taking on a frustrated Washington team with its own share of problems could serve Philadelphia well.
Washington will enter this weekend with a record of 3-11, putting the franchise in a position for another high draft pick in the spring instead of sniffing the postseason. Washington has lost six straight games since the beginning of November, and they lost the earlier meeting with the Eagles back in Week 3, 37-34.
Washington owns the edge in the all-time series, with a head-to-head record of 80-74-6 dating back to 1934. The Eagles are 11-3 in games played at Washington’s stadium dating back to 2000, including last season’s 33-27 victory.
Redskins on Offense
It appears as though Robert Griffin III will get the start for Washington once again. Griffin was 18-of-27 for 236 yards and a touchdown against the Giants in last weekend’s game, and he rushed for 46 yards and lost a touchdown on a controversial instant replay review late in the first half. Washington scored on just one of four red zone trips against New York, and it cost them in a 24-13 defeat.
Former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson had just three catches for 15 yards in that game, but he is closing in on a 1,000-yard season with a team-high 957 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Redskins on Defense
When the Eagles last played Washington, they struggled to keep drives alive by converting just four of 11 third-down attempts for first downs. The Eagles also failed to get much production out of the running game, with just 54 rushing yards on a day Nick Foles struggled throwing the football and was roughed up constantly. The Eagles will have to do better than that this time around with Mark Sanchez again the likely starter.
Washington has continued to be one of the better teams against the run, allowing 101 yards per game and ranked seventh in the NFL against the run. Washington should be more vulnerable in the air, if Sanchez can be accurate and careful with his touch.
Redskins Players to Watch
Alfred Morris, Running back: The Eagles prevented Morris from having much of an impact the last time they met, holding Morris to 77 yards on 23 carries. He has been going through a rough stretch as well, being held to fewer than 68 yards on the ground in each of the last three games.
DeSean Jackson, Wide receiver: The former Eagles wide receiver was responsible for 117 receiving yards and a touchdown in the first meeting, but it has been over a month since Jackson’s last game with more than 89 receiving yards, and he has just two touchdowns since October 12.
Coach on the Hot Seat?
This season has been a complete mess for Washington. This is just the first year on the job for Jay Gruden, but the expectations were much higher for this franchise this fall, especially after acquiring DeSean Jackson. Could the new head coach already be on a hot seat? With Dan Snyder as the owner, it is always a possibility. This can make Washington a dangerous team for the Eagles, which have been reeling the past two weeks. Or, it could make for the perfect rebound opponent for Philadelphia.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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