Sunday afternoon the Philadelphia Eagles will face off against the Washington Redskins. Both teams have 3-6 records and are struggling this season. While neither team is officially out of the playoff hunt, they are both on life support. This game will mark rookie quarterback Nick Foles' first career start as Michael Vick has been ruled out of the game with a "significant" concussion. Lets check out the positional matchups for the game.
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Quarterback: For the Redskins, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has played great thus far. He has over 260 passes but only three interceptions. In addition, Griffin III has almost 2000 yards passing, over 500 yards rushing, and 14 total touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Eagles will start rookie quarterback Nick Foles. Foles looked decent for a player who got thrown onto the field in the middle of a game for his first career NFL game but we don't really know what to expect Sunday afternoon. Advantage goes to the Redskins.
Running back: Running up the middle has been a strong suit for the Eagles lately, with LeSean McCoy averaging almost six yards per carry in his last three games. The Redskins have another key rookie, this time it is Alfred Morris. He is currently fourth in the NFC in rushing and has almost five yards per carry. One weaknesses is his speed, as he is a more north-south runner, which separates the two enough to give the Eagles the advantage.
Receiving: Riley Cooper gets to move up to the number three receiving position with Jason Avant out after suffering a hamstring injury last week against Dallas. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek should be good targets for Foles with Cooper being a big body to look for in the red zone. Washington has tight end Fred Davis and receiver Pierre Garcon, their two top receivers, out with injuries. Santana Moss has five touchdowns this season on 24 receptions. The Eagles get the advantage.
Offensive line: King Dunlap is going to be moved back to left tackle, his more natural position after both he and Demetress Bell played badly against the Cowboys last Sunday. Injuries have hurt the Eagles at offensive line this season, and not only do they not have depth anymore, they really don't have talent at the position either. Trent Williams is looking at a Pro Bowl season for the Redskins as the middle unit of Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, and Chris Chester have played solid protecting Griffin III and opening holes for Morris this season. Washington gets the advantage.
Defensive line: Not only will the Eagles need to focus on stopping Morris rushing the ball, they will also have to worry about Griffin III running around as well. Griffin III has over 80 rushing attempts for about seven and a half yards is a threat rushing as well as passing, but if the defensive line stays in the rushing lanes they will be forcing a rookie quarterback to find the holes with his arm. Washington is running a 3-4 this season, which has made Barry Cofield ineffective this season as he is out of his natural position. The Redskins are also giving up five yards per carry in the past two games. The Eagles defensive line has started to play better, but neither side gets the advantage.
Linebacker: The linebackers have helped defend the run well lately for the Eagles as opponents are averaging about 4.5 yards per carry in the last five games. Washington's pass rush took a blow when they lost Brian Orakpo to a shoulder injury. Of the 13 sacks the Redskins have this season, none are in the last two games. Philadelphia gets a slight advantage.
Secondary: Tackling has been poor for the Eagles secondary, they have two interceptions in the last seven games, and their opponents quarterback passer rating is almost 130 in the last three games. To say they have been underachieving this season is like saying the sky is blue. Washington has 10 interceptions this season but they are also giving up almost eight yards per pass attempt as their safeties have poor cover skills. While both side has played bad, with a rookie quarterback making his first career start, Washington will get the advantage.
Special teams: The Eagles have been horrible at special teams this year. Both the punting and kicking coverage ranks in the bottom six in the league this season and they have nine kick returns of 36 yards or more given up this season. Washington has a good threat in Brandon Banks, who is averaging almost 25 yards per kick return. Kai Forbath has replaced Billy Cundiff in the kicking duties, and he is perfect this season on field goals while being six-for-six from beyond 40 yards. The advantage goes to the Redskins.
Final thoughts: This is a game the Eagles should win. This is a game I feel Foles could have a big coming out party, throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns while McCoy gets over 150 total yards on the day. However, looking at previous weeks the Eagles have shown no ability in being able to do that this season. Perhaps the offense clicks with a new quarterback under center, but the prediction here will be Redskins 27, Eagles 21.
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