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Week 10 - Philadelphia Eagles

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Blognosticator - Lanky Livingston

Hello BGO! I just flew in from Houston, and boy are my arms tired! … :tap tap: Is this thing on? Tough crowd. :ducks a battery: HEY! Who let Philly fans in here?

Eagles versus the Redskins on Monday Night Football, does it get any better than this? We started our prime-time tour of the NFC-East with a Sunday Night victory over the Cowboys and outside of Dallas, Philadelphia is the clear public enemy numero uno in the District. Why do we hate the Dirty Birds so much? There are all the typical reasons – they threw snowballs at Santa, batteries at everyone else, and rained boos on a potentially paralyzed player – but there’s more to it than that. For this Blognosticator, it’s the fact that “home games” against Philly are filled with Eagle-fans. It’s the fact that my coworker is from Delaware and incessantly talks crap about the Eagles. It’s the fact that everyone I know from Philly smack-talks ALL. THE. TIME. Its about giving an entire city a warm glass of shut the hell up.

Let’s be honest with each other: divisional games, especially games within the NFC-East, are just plain impossible to predict. History, record, stats and superstars can all be thrown out the window; does anyone remember the 1-15 Dallas Cowboys? (the 1989 variety of course, not these 2010 ladies in silver & blue). How about the Week 4 match up with these very Eagles? Few gave the Skins much of a chance going into the Pigeon’s Nest (even with the emotion of McNabb’s return to his 11-year home), coming off a devastating shellacking from the lowly Rams. The Eagles’ new/old superstar Mike Vick, at one time a burgeoning face of the NFL until his rapid fall from grace, had been reborn in the city of brotherly love and finally living up to the potential he always possessed. After almost bringing the Eagles back in week 1 against the Packers, Vick led them to 63 points in the two following games. He showed off the electrifying run-ability from his Atlanta and Virginia Tech days as well as a newfound pocket presence and patience with the offense.

After the dust settled, Vick’s sensational run was cut short in the middle of a Hall/Moore sammich, and the Redskins escaped Philadelphia with a 5-point victory (SUCK IT, Eagles fans!). In typical NFC-East Redskins fashion the game came down to the final seconds, as we watched with our hearts in our throats as Kevin Kolb’s game-winning touchdown pass slipped through the hands of Jason Avant. Kolb – or rather, the lack of Vick on the field – is one of the main reasons that the Redskins won that day. The Eagles offense went from soaring to sputtering, as Kolb turned it into a Jason Campbell-esque check-down paradise. *Cue Coolio music:* “Been spendin’ most our lives, livin’ in a check-doooooowwn paradise!”

This Week 10 match up is similar in a lot of ways – the Eagles are flying high again, after beating down Peyton Manning and the Colts (in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated), and their offense seems to be back on track. Vick returned from injury last week to put up 292 yards of total offense and a pair of touchdowns (one rushing and one passing), to lead the Eagles to victory. In addition to Vick’s return, the Eagles training staff was also able to reattach DeSean Jackson’s head to his body and clean out enough cobwebs for him to step back on the field (Jackson’s family was able to get a 75% refund on their funeral service deposit!). D-Jax wasted no time in returning to his old ways, catching 7 balls for a buck-o-nine and a score. LeSean McCoy consistently got loose for 95 yards on 16 carries, and the Eagle-offense in general appeared to be back on track.

The Redskins, much to the chagrin of this Blognosticator, are heading in the opposite direction. Coming off a loss to another inferior opponent (it’s debatable actually how “inferior” the Lions are to the Redskins, but come on! They’re the LIONS!), perhaps the only silver-lining is that they couldn’t lose this past week. Unfortunately the bye-week didn’t stop the bad news from piling up, as we learned Brandon “Ludicrous Speed” Banks will be out for 2-3 weeks after minor knee surgery. On top of that disappointing news, there are still tons of questions the Redskins have yet to answer: Will Torain and/or Portis be available this week? If so, does it even matter? Will the Redskins stick to the running game? Will James Davis make us forget all about those other two guys? Can someone other than Moss or Cooley catch a pass? Can McNabb finish the Haynesworth conditioning test? Can Carlos Rogers catch an interception? Can someone go Tonya Harding on Rex Grossman? CAN A BROTHA GET SOME PLAY-ACTION ROLL-OUTS?

Most concerning is that the offense doesn’t seem to be improving at all from week to week – can they start clicking and show some of what Shanahan the Younger had in Houston? We’ve seen glimpses, mostly against Houston in Week 2 and in other spots here and there (the Redskins lead the league in 50+ yard pass plays), however for the most part the Redskins offense has struggled mightily to be consistent. On the other side of the ball the defense seems to be slowly improving, but still has the bad-habit of leaving the opposition’s best player uncovered in game-clinching situations. Fat Albert is back to being a contributor, although he was mostly quiet against the Lions. If the Skins are to have any chance, they’ll need a repeat of his Week 4 performance against the Pigeons, in which he put constant pressure on the quarterback.

The Birds are most certainly looking for revenge of their earlier loss, a game that they were literally fingertips away from winning (and to be fair, also losing – thanks Carlos). If history teaches us anything, its that the Redskins play to the level of their opponents. This is great for games against teams like the Eagles, but infuriating for games like the Rams and Lions. History also tells us that Mike Shanahan will have his troops focused and ready to play. Shanahan is 10-4 overall in his career after the bye-week and more importantly, 5-1 after bye-week when losing the previous game. In fact, in those games after a loss, the Shanahan-led Broncos more than doubled their points-per-game (29.3 in the games after the bye versus 14.5 in the losses before it). Defensively, Shanny’s Broncos allowed almost 32 ppg in the losses before the bye versus only 18 in the games after it. We’ll simply ignore Shanahan’s 2-3 record in divisional games after the bye, because it’s my column and I say so. :nervous smile:

Keys to the game: Run, run, run – Commitment to the run will open up play-action, which is very important against aggressive defenses like Philly. Several well-timed McNabb roll outs could be big-gainers.
Pressure on Vick – He cannot get comfortable in the pocket this week, or he will shred our 31st-ranked defense. Need to be in his face all day long.

Final score prediction: Redskins 31 – Eagles 28; McNabb leads a 4th-quarter drive for the game-winning touchdown to a wide-open Anthony Armstrong Moss or Cooley as the clock expires. (No way am I gonna be the first Blognosticator to predict a loss!)

Semi-insane prediction: McNabb and the offense wake up this week, and Donny throws for over 400 yards and 3 TD-passes.

Bat**** crazy prediction: not only will Phillip Buchanon decide to cover someone, he will have a momentum-shifting interception in the 3rd-quarter to set up the first 6 of 17 un-answered Redskins points.

Updated 11-10-10 at 03:38 PM by Neophyte (Correct the week # in title)

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