Week 17 Preview: Redskins Come To Philly

The Eagles don't envy themselves for being in the role of a spoiler. When the schedule came out, this final matchup against Washington was a highlight. It was figured on to be a big divisional matchup, probably having playoff or division title rights on the line. Instead, the Eagles are just trying to win at home and ruin things for their friends in D.C.

SERIES HISTORY: 142nd meeting. The Redskins lead the series 74-62-5, including a 20-6 victory in a first-round playoff game in Philadelphia in 1990 that got Eagles coach Buddy Ryan fired.

The most memorable game in the series was the game that preceded that playoff game: "The Body Bag Game" in which the fearsome Philadelphia defense knocked Redskins quarterbacks Jeff Rutledge and Stan Humphries out of the game. With starter Mark Rypien already sidelined, coach Joe Gibbs was forced to play rookie running back Brian Mitchell, a college option quarterback, against the Eagles, who taunted the Redskins about their players being carried off in body bags. That showing in the Eagles' 28-14 victory fired up the Redskins come playoff time.

The View From Philadelphia

GAME PLAN: The Eagles struggled badly against the Arizona blitz last week. The Redskins almost certainly will do the same this week unless the Eagles can get their ground game going early on and force them to back off.

Andy Reid has tried every week to get quarterback Mike McMahon off to a fast start, but to no avail. They'll try again this week against one of the league's best pass defenses.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

  • Eagles MLB Jeremiah Trotter vs. Redskins RB Clinton Portis. Trotter is the key to the Eagles' run defense. Portis has four straight 100-yard games.
  • Eagles CB Rod Hood vs. Redskins WR Santana Moss. Hood has played well since replacing injured Lito Sheppard, but Moss is coming off a three-touchdown game. With Bruce Perry replacing Hood on kickoff returns, Hood should be rested and able to concentrate on controlling Moss.
  • Eagles RG Shawn Andrews vs. Redskins LDT Cornelius Griffin. Griffin is the Redskins' best defensive lineman and needs to be neutralized if the Eagles are going to do anything offensively.

INJURY IMPACT:

  • PR/RB Reno Mahe is questionable for Sunday's game with a calf injury. Mahe leads the NFC in punt returns. If he can't play, Dexter Wynn will handle punts.
  • If LDE Jevon Kearse is unable to play Sunday, N.D. Kalu likely would start in his place. Kearse is questionable with a knee sprain.
  • WR Darnerian McCants didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. McCants suffered an AC shoulder sprain last week. The former Redskin receiver, who is currently the Eagles' number four receiver, is hoping to see action against his old team on Sunday.
  • RT Jon Runyan didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday because of continuing problems with his knee and quad. He's listed as questionable for Sunday's game, but he is expected to play. The 32 year old Runyan has started 142 straight games and doesn't figure to let that streak end in the season finale.
  • QB Mike McMahon practiced Wednesday and Thursday despite rib and knee injuries. He is listed as probable for the Washington game and is expected to start.
The View From Washington

GAME PLAN: The Redskins have been running wild during their four-game winning streak, averaging 173 yards on 37 carries per game. With QB Mark Brunell not 100 percent, there are no plans to change that approach against the Eagles' 20th-ranked run defense.

Philadelphia's offense is minus its quarterback, receivers, running back, center and left tackle. There's not much left to scare a defense, but the Eagles did average 20 points the past three weeks despite interception-happy QB Mike McMahon. The Redskins' biggest problem could be not taking the battered Eagles seriously.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

  • Redskins RT Jon Jansen vs. Eagles LDE Jevon Kearse. Jansen, who has played all year with a cast or splint on his broken right thumb, held the Giants' Michael Strahan without a sack last week. He needs a repeat against fellow supreme pass rusher Kearse - who's questionable with an ailing knee - since QB Mark Brunell won't be 100 percent with his own sprained knee.
  • Redskins FS Sean Taylor vs. Eagles RB Ryan Moats. Rookie Moats isn't the consistent producer that injured starter Brian Westbrook is, but he does have home run ability, having taken runs 40 and 59 yards to the house on December 11 against the Giants and December 18 at St. Louis. Taylor, the fastest Redskins defender, has to keep Moats from breaking a long one.
INJURY IMPACT
  • Even at 35, mobility is a big part of QB Mark Brunell's game. But even a hobbled Brunell is as mobile as pocket passer Ramsey. The Redskins hope to keep Brunell as protected as possible, which would dictate plenty of handoffs and quick passes.
  • CB Shawn Springs didn't practice Thursday because of the strained back and groin with which he played the past two weeks. Springs is expected to start Sunday in Philadelphia.
  • CB Carlos Rogers didn't practice Thursday because of the left biceps injury he suffered on December 11 at Arizona, which kept him out the past two weeks. Rogers is questionable for Sunday.
  • DE Renaldo Wynn didn't practice Thursday because of a sore arch but is expected to start against the Eagles.
  • T Chris Samuels rested the sprained right knee and ankle he suffered at Arizona, but Samuels rested the past two Wednesdays and started both games. He'll start against the Eagles.
  • S Matt Bowen, who has missed the past two games with a badly bruised knee and thigh, practiced Wednesday and is expected to play against Philadelphia.
  • T Jon Jansen has been resting his sprained right thumb, but will start against the Eagles.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Here's how dangerous they are: They took the Giants to overtime at their place three weeks ago. That's all you've got to say. We have to expect they're going to play that way against us." - Redskins coach Joe Gibbs on not underestimating the Eagles, losers of seven of nine, in Sunday's season finale at Philadelphia.

The Eagles win if...

The ground game can provide some relief for the struggling Eagles offense. Between Ryan Moats, Bruce Perry and whoever else gets carries, they've got to establish at least some respectability to keep the Redskins D honest. If not, it's another long day for Mike McMahon and things get ugly.

The Redskins win if...

The Eagles defense can't get pressure on Mark Brunell or Patrick Ramsey, whichever one is in the lineup. Getting pressure on the quarterback should make Santana Moss a little less dangerous. Of course, the Eagles also have to find a way to stop Clinton Portis, too, which won't be easy. The easiest thing to shut down though is the Redskins passing attack and then they can just hope to contain Portis as much as possible.


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