Don't let the hype surrounding Donovan McNabb's return to Philadelphia fool you. While there's plenty of hoopla surrounding the anticipated fan reaction to McNabb and the human drama of the best quarterback in franchise history going up against his former team, the most important story today is the action on the field in what is a pivotal NFC East game for both teams.
Armed with a one-game lead in the division at the moment, the Eagles play only one intra-division game in the first-half of the season. Holding serve at home against the Redskins would extend that division lead. For the Redskins, things might look a bit dire at 1-2 coming off a disappointing loss in St. Louis, but a road win would put the Redskins at 2-2, and, more importantly, 2-0 in the NFC East and in the poll position at the quarter mark of the season.
"I think it's huge," said tight end Brent Celek. "Our ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl, but you have to get out of the division. We have to win the division and it starts against Washington."
Celek acknowledged that the Redskins have typically served as a difficult foil to the Eagles. Even though the Redskins currently rank 32nd in the league in total defense as they transition to a new 3-4 scheme, he's not overlooking anyone.
"Last year, I thought they were one of the best defenses, if not the best defense, that we had gone against all year," he said. "This year, they struggled a little bit but they still have all the same players and they're a great defense and we can't sleep on them. We have to bring our 'A' game for them."
"It's the NFC East," said left guard Todd Herremans. "It's always a battle no matter which team it is ... They look forward to playing us every year and we look forward to playing them. It's one of those games that's like a backyard brawl."
So yes, pay attention to the reaction McNabb gets from the Philadelphia faithful. Enjoy the spectacle. But don't lose sight of what's really at stake - an early claim to divisional superiority.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 11:18 a.m., October 3