For the last three weeks, the Eagles have looked to bounce back from a loss with each upcoming game becoming more "must-win" than the previous one. But now, sitting at 1-4, the Eagles know their only path to the playoffs will have to come from inside the division, where they're 0-1 after the Week 3 loss to the New York Giants. And so Sunday's tilt against the Washington Redskins is a game from which Michael Vick and company need to emerge victorious if the season is to turn around. Luckily, the Eagles will travel back to a place where they've had plenty of recent success, having won four of their last five games at FedEx Field. Success would be putting it mildly when describing what happened last season, when Vick and the Eagles blitzed the Redskins from the first play of the game en route to a record-setting 59-28 victory.
Of course, this time around the surroundings are quite different. The Eagles take on the division-leading, you read that right, Redskins, who are coming off their bye at 3-1. The Redskins have found early success in Mike Shanahan's second season with hard-nosed victories over the Giants, Cardinals and Rams. The Redskins' strength thus far has been their sixth-ranked defense, which has been killer at ending drives as they've ended drives on a league-best 74 percent of opposing offense's third downs. The Redskins have also done plenty of boasting early on, led by quarterback Rex Grossman, who all but guaranteed a division title before the season began. But setting the 'Skins aside, the result of this division showdown is likely to come based on the performance of the visiting Eagles. If they can limit mistakes and turnovers, something they've rarely been able to do this season, then talent should win out and the Eagles can head to their bye week with a glimmer of hope. But if the Eagles fall into the same self-defeating trap, it could make for a long remainder of the season.
Eagles WR DeSean Jackson vs. Redskins S LaRon Landry
LaRon Landry bit off more than he could chew last year when the Eagles visited the Redskins. Landry tried to intimidate wide receiver DeSean Jackson before the game, but Jackson let his actions speak as he caught an 88-yard touchdown on the game's opening play with Landry falling down trying to catch the speedy receiver. Landry is an integral part of the Redskins defense because he is an explosive, dynamic playmaker for them. He missed the first two games this season due to injury (Achilles, hamstring), but has played well in his return to the lineup helping shore up the pass coverage and allowing defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to rush the quarterback with only four players. Jackson had five catches for 86 yards last week against the Bills including a 31-yard catch-and-run for the touchdown. Four of those catches were in the second half as the Eagles tried to rally from behind.
Eagles DT Cullen Jenkins vs. Redskins RG Chris Chester
Here is a battle of free agent acquisitions. It might be safe to say that the Eagles are much happier with their purchase to date. The Redskins have struggled to run the ball this season as Tim Hightower, the team's leading rusher, is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. It's no surprise that Ryan Torain looks to be the feature back now as he's averaging 7.1 yards per carry this season. The Redskins rarely run behind Chester, the former Raven, with just four plays in his direction in 2011, which is next-to-last in the league. Jenkins, meanwhile, is tied for fourth in the league in sacks with 5.0. That includes the one he had Sunday against the rarely sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick. Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman, however, has done a serviceable job avoiding the pass rush having gone down eight times so far in 2011.
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