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Week 16 Preview: A Saturday Affair

Posted Jul 14, 2014

Week 16 for the Eagles serves up a nationally televised Saturday game against Washington. There are two slots for the Saturday matchups on December 20, one game at 4:30 PM on NFL Network and one at 8:15 PM on CBS. Which of those spots is reserved for this NFC East showdown will be determined at a later date.

Meanwhile, there is sure to be plenty of importance placed on penultimate game of the Eagles' 2014 season. A season after Chip Kelly opened the veil on his NFL tenure in the season's first week with a blitzing of Washington at FedExField, the return to the scene of that crime will prove perhaps much more important. 

The matchup pits the two most recent NFC East champions against each other. What strides will the Eagles' defense make in Year 2 under coordinator Bill Davis? How will they handle Jay Gruden's new-look Washington offense with Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris? To wit, what strides will Griffin make after a disappointing sophomore season?

How will the Washington defense fare in its first season without London Fletcher in what seems like decades? Will they have a better defensive game plan than the ones on which the Eagles scored a combined 57 points last season?

In Week 11 of 2013, the Eagles and Washington met in Philadelphia, with the former sporting a 5-5 record the latter at 3-6. The Eagles jumped out to a 24-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter but they had to withstand a furious comeback attempt by a Washington team that refused to die. Alas, an under-pressure Griffin sailed an errant pass into the end zone that Brandon Boykin intercepted to ice the 24-16 victory.

Overall, Washington's offense, even with a hobbled Griffin, ended up finishing ninth in the NFL in yards per game (369.7). However, the unit just could not convert those yards into enough points (20.9 per game, 23rd in the NFL) – especially when taking into account that the defense and special teams, which was historically bad, combined to allow 29.9 points per game, second worst in the NFL. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong and Washington plummeted to a 3-13 record, second worst in the NFL. To make matters worse for Washington, the Rams owned their first-round pick from the trade that allowed Griffin to end up in burgundy and gold.

The 2014 season will near an end after this showdown. Will the Eagles be securing a second-straight playoff berth? Or will another late-season rally be needed for the postseason?

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