Coming down the home stretch, the Philadelphia Eagles are on the outside looking in as far as getting to the postseason.
The Eagles need a loss by the Dallas Cowboys, and they need to win their next two games, in order to win the NFC East and return to postseason play.
The Cowboys host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Dallas may be playing without its leading rusher DeMarco Murray who had hand surgery this week. Murray leads the NFL in rushing. If he doesn’t play, that could be a significant loss for the Cowboys.
However, the Eagles have to focus on the task at hand. The Eagles (9-5) will visit the Washington Redskins (3-11) on Saturday, Dec. 20 (CBS3 4:30 p.m.) at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md.
Despite the Redskins record, the Eagles can’t afford to look past them. Speaking of injuries, the Eagles will be playing without linebacker Trent Cole who had hand surgery for a broken bone. Brandon Graham is expected to step in and start at outside linebacker. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has been very pleased with Graham’s play at linebacker.
“I think B.G. has really, really picked up in terms of what we’re trying to do,” Kelly said. “I think both these guys, having not played outside linebacker, their transition to outside linebacker, you know, it’s not, ‘Hey, you’re going to play outside linebacker,’ and you pick it up in one second. There are a lot of nuances to it. But Brandon can set an edge. Brandon can rush the quarterback.”
Robert Griffin III will start at quarterback for the Redskins. Although Griffin has suffered with major injuries and has struggled to recapture his brilliant play from his rookie year, he could pose a threat to the Eagles defense.
Defensively, the Eagles haven’t done well against mobile quarterbacks. In the Eagles 26-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 17-of-30 passes for 218 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Kaepernick had seven carries for 58 yards.
Two weeks ago, quarterback Russell Wilson guided the Seattle Seahawks to a 24-14 win over the Eagles. Wilson connected on 22-of-37 for 263 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. He also had 10 rushing attempts for 48 yards.
Kaepernick and Wilson have good speed and can out of the pocket. They can both throw the ball down the field. RGIII has shown flashes of those explosive skills in the Redskins 24-13 loss to the New York Giants. Griffin completed 18-of-27 passes for 236 yards with one TD and no interceptions. He had five carries for 46 yards. Griffin also has former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (50 receptions for 957 yards and five TDs) as a deep threat. Kelly isn’t taking the Redskins and Griffin lightly in a must-win game for the Eagles.
“I think they’re a talented football team,” Kelly said. “When you look at their players, if you’re not aware of where RGIII is, he can hurt you with his legs and his arm. We got to really sharp in our contain when we rush the quarterback because he’s a different element than we’ve seen except for Russell Wilson and you saw what happened to us.”
The Eagles final game of the season will be against the New York Giants on the road Sunday, Dec. 28.