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Preparing For An Eagles Must-Win Moment

The goal is right there to be had: Win two games against NFC East rivals Washington and New York and the Eagles win the division. That's it. That's how we all thought it would play out this season, right? Win in December and get to the playoffs.

It hasn't gone according to the script, for sure. But it's here. It's real. And whether it's pretty or ugly, well, that doesn't matter. The Eagles must regroup on a short week and prepare for a Washington team coming to Lincoln Financial Field that has won two consecutive games and that believes in itself and that is one victory away from clinching the NFC East.

Can the Eagles salvage this season? As much of a roller coaster as it's been, can the Eagles right the ship and beat Washington on Saturday night and keep their playoff hopes alive?

Sure, they can. They have shown they are capable of playing winning football. What happened on Sunday night in a 40-17 loss to Arizona, a team that played at a different level than did the Eagles, is in the past. The Eagles have moved on.

We'll evaluate the big picture of the team at the appropriate time, when the season is completed and we have the benefit of a full season to digest. Now, the focus is on the micro-season. The Eagles have been talking about a "one-game season" all year and now they are truly here: It's win on Saturday or the playoff hopes are over.

"We've been in this situation before," tight end Zach Ertz said. "The playoffs start now and that's the bottom line. We knew that this (Arizona) game was big but at the same time, we know the next two are huge. That's honestly all we can focus on now."

Said right tackle Lane Johnson: "We have two games left and it's a do-or-die situation. So, next week is big. If we don't win that, it's not going to be good for us. It's do-or-die."

So what changes on Saturday night? The Eagles need to come out and get a jump on Washington, put the Redskins on their heels and build some momentum. A big play on offense. A takeaway on defense. There needs to be some emotion and focus and sense of purpose.

But there is no magical formula. The Eagles have to bounce back on both a physical level and an emotional level. There are some injury concerns at the cornerback position after starters Byron Maxwell (shoulder) and Eric Rowe (concussion) were KO'd from the loss to Arizona. There are some functional concerns for a defense that allowed 493 total net yards, including 230 on the ground, and an offense that turned the football over four times on Sunday night.

The approach to take is this: What happened in the past doesn't matter. The team that wins on Saturday night will be the one that is best prepared by the coaching staff, that has the most answers, that plays with the most focus and that executes at the higher level.

What's hard to figure is this football team and the multiple personalities it seems to have. You'd think the Eagles would be at their peak for this game. After all, the Eagles were solid, with a winning formula, in victories over New England and Buffalo, to start this month. Then came the stinker against Arizona and the four turnovers and the many missed tackles and the overall Cardinals domination in the second half on Sunday night.

Which Eagles team shows up on Saturday? This is for the season, right? This is to keep playoff hopes alive, yes? So we're going to see the best of what the Eagles can be, from head coach Chip Kelly to the very last man on the sidelines, correct?

You would think that's going to be the case. Look, Sunday was awful. And Sunday is gone. It's on to the next game for the Eagles and that next game is one that happens to be a win-or-it's-over battle against a Washington team that dealt the Eagles a cruel 23-20 loss on October 4. A rivalry is renewed on Saturday night. The NFL scheduled the season to finish just this way: Games against NFC East rivals with the division title on the line.

The Eagles have the chance to write the perfect (OK, not perfect, but work with me here) ending in the NFC East and win their last two games and leave no doubt about which team deserves the title. The goal is still there, even if the blueprint for reaching this moment hasn't exactly been followed to perfection.

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