WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Here is the scene: A dozen or so Eagles fans are in a bar in this town and we are all rooting against Dallas to open this most-crucial weekend. A game that was once a tough defensive struggle turned into a fourth quarter of big plays as Dallas lost, got beat up in the process, and started things off so well for everybody who wants the Eagles to reach the playoffs and then do some serious damage.
It is going to be an emotional weekend. Waiting until 4:15 will be agonizing. At 1 p.m. the Chargers will try to upset Tampa Bay, and I'm going to be rooting for San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to make life miserable for our former friend, Jeff Garcia. Then I'll be watching the Eagles and Washington, and at the same time keeping an eye on Atlanta at Minnesota. This is the NFL, and there is no better time of the sporting season than now, when teams are angling for a playoff berth.
The only thing the Eagles can control is how they play against Washington. I expect a strong performance. The Eagles have everything at stake. They know they have to win two games and still get some help. They know they can't make the mistakes that doom teams -- penalties, blown assignments, physical errors that are unforced.
The trip here was smooth, upbeat, exciting. When you are around a team long enough, you know which side is up. A season left for dead four weeks ago is suddenly vibrating. Yeah, the Eagles need some help, but the simple fact that they are playing the NFC East with everything on the line means something, too. The Eagles have to go through the division to reach the playoffs. That is justice, because the NFC East has been a good place for Andy Reid in his career as the Eagles' head coach.
It all started on Saturday as Dallas melted down, as the Cowboys showed nothing on offense and provided a lot of gaping holes on defense when DeMarcus Ware wasn't wreaking havoc. with his speed pass rush. The Eagles must continue the momentum. We know the storylines: Washington's defense is fundamentally sound, with great coverage and a pass rush that has had trouble this year. Theri offense runs the ball well and plays efficient football.
This is do or die, so the Eagles must be at the top of their games. I like the vibe. I like the mojo and yes, I like the swagger. The Eagles have "it" going for them right now.
This game is another test, one that is waiting just a few, agonizing hours away.