Here are my five keys to Sunday’s Redskins-Eagles game plus a prediction:
1. The Redskins need to contain LeSean McCoy. The other four keys here and all of the other keys and matchups and other analysis you’ll see around the web between now and game time will be rendered useless if McCoy runs wild on the Redskins again. Although it’s not easy to hold him down, it can be done. McCoy has three games this year where he has run for 155 yards or more. But in five games he has 55 rushing yards or fewer. The key is gang tackling, as almost every Redskins defender said this week. An attempt to tackle McCoy one on one usually ends up with the defender grasping air.
2. The Eagles have played one more game than the Redskins and they have two fewer sacks so their pass rush isn’t anything to fear. Defensive end Vinny Curry, who has played about 20 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps this year, leads the team with four sacks. He will line up on either side so the Redskins will have to be ready for him.
3. The Eagles were a disaster in the turnover ratio department in 2012. They were bad on both elements of the formula with just 13 takeaways, tied for last in the NFL, and 37 giveaways, also tied for the worst performance in the league. If you do the math you get a minus-24. They are doing much better this year. Through 10 games they already have more takeaways, 17, than they did all of last year. The Eagles have thrown seven interceptions (none by Nick Foles) and lost eight fumbles. It adds up a plus-2. The Redskins are at zero with 16 takeaways and 16 giveaways. Neither team is good enough to survive a deficit of two or more in the turnover battle on Sunday.
4. It will be interesting to see how Kyle Shanahan goes after the Eagles defense. They want to run the ball but the Philly defense averages giving up a very respectable 4.0 yards per carry. Their pass defense is 31st in the league. This will not be popular with the “pound the rock” crowd but the way to go may be to try to build a lead with the passing game and then preserve it with Alfred Morris.
5. It’s legitimate to point out that the Eagles’ five wins have come over four teams who are currently at least 3 games under .500 plus the Scott Tolzien-led Packers. It also would be fair to say that two of the Redskins three wins, those over the Bears and Chargers, are better “quality” wins than the Eagles have had. That will not matter much on Sunday. The fact is that both the Redskins and Eagles are in the mass of NFL teams that aren’t great but aren’t awful.
Prediction--After presenting five tangible keys here I’m going to stray away from logic in making my predictions. The skid of 10 straight home losses suffered by the Eagles has the same feeling as that streak we saw earlier this year, the one where the Lions had never won in Washington. The Lions were due. Even though each game is a separate event and what happened against the Bengals last year at Lincoln Financial Field or this year against the Chargers there has no logical connection with Sunday’s game, I just think the Eagles are due.
Eagles 31, Redskins 28