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Rams head coach Sean McVay has had Eagles' number

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Rams head coach Sean McVay has had Eagles' number

When Sean McVay left the Redskins to become head coach of the Rams, the Eagles weren't sad to see him go. But while McVay may be out of the NFC East, he presents a pivotal challenge for the Eagles' defense in Week 14.

McVay was the offensive coordinator in Washington for three seasons, a period during which the Redskins posted a 5-1 record against the Eagles. Simply put, they had no answer for McVay's offense, which averaged 29.3 points per game over that span.

That was the Redskins, who never had an offense finish better than 10th in scoring under McVay. On Sunday, the Eagles will be tasked with slowing the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL — which is tied only with their own.

The Rams' offense is a talented bunch to begin with. Jared Goff is proving worthy of the first overall draft choice last year. Ranked second with 1,502 yards from scrimmage and tied for first with 11 total touchdowns, running back Todd Gurley is a legitimate MVP candidate. The front office added legitimate weapons at wide receiver in Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. The offensive line is among the league's most improved units.

It's also been a remarkable turnaround from last season, when the Rams finished dead last in both scoring offense and total yards, with much of the same personnel in place. McVay's impact is real.

You don't need to tell the Eagles that. In Washington, McVay's offenses averaged 427.0 yards per game in six meetings — 284.3 through the air, 141.0 on the ground. To put those numbers in perspective, the Redskins' offense would've been a top-five unit in all three categories if they played the Eagles every week.

Three times, the Eagles surrendered 493 yards or more of total offense to Washington. Twice, the Redskins gained over 200 yards on the ground alone. The Eagles never held Washington to fewer than 23 points, 305 yards of total offense or 84 yards rushing.

Granted, the Eagles weren't exactly a defensive powerhouse between 2014 and 2015, routinely finishing at or near the bottom of the league in most major categories. Even last season, under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the defense was middle of the pack.

Times have changed. The Eagles have since transformed into one of the best defenses in the NFL. Schwartz's unit ranks third in total yards allowed (293.2), sixth in points per game (17.9), third in takeaways (22), and No. 1 against the run (68.1) in 2017.

Last season, the Redskins averaged 27.0 points, 413.5 total yards and 163.5 yards on the ground with two total turnovers in two tangos with Scwhartz's defense. Things may not come that easy for McVay this time around.

At least the Eagles hope not. Despite having a division title and a playoff spot all but wrapped up, this will be an important test. Though 10-2, the Eagles have beaten only one team with a winning record. Furthermore, home-field advantage and a first-round bye in the postseason are still on the table, and at 9-3, the Rams are one of the teams vying for both. A loss in Los Angeles would make it extremely difficult for the Eagles to secure either.

Yet, solving McVay's offense may also be easier said than done. The Rams are the best offense the Eagles have seen all season, led by a coach who has had their number in years past.

It's going to be a test of where the Eagles stand in the NFC hierarchy and of the progress they've made as a defense. Because if past experience is any indicator, the matchup with McVay is one that looks worrisome.

Cowboys rout Redskins, prevent Eagles from clinching NFC East

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AP Images

Cowboys rout Redskins, prevent Eagles from clinching NFC East

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dak Prescott was getting X-rays on his swollen right hand when rookie Ryan Switzer scored his first career touchdown on an 83-yard punt return.

The extra time with the Dallas offense on the sideline kept Prescott from missing any plays, and last year's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year led the Cowboys to their first win after three straight losses without suspended star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Prescott threw two touchdown passes, including a franchise record-breaker to Dez Bryant, in the Cowboys' 38-14 victory over the Washington Redskins on Thursday night.

The injury happened in the second quarter when Prescott's right hand was hit by linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons just as he made an option pitch to Rod Smith. Thanks to Switzer's dash to the end zone, Prescott never left the game.

"I don't know if I've ever broken my hand," Prescott said. "I couldn't grip initially right after because the (hand) swelled up on me so bad. As I said, they wrapped it up, got the swelling down and I was fine."

Bryant's leaping 13-yard leaping in the end zone was the 2014 All-Pro's first score in six games and 72nd of his career, one more than Hall of Famer Bob Hayes.

The Cowboys (6-6) never trailed despite a sluggish start to the offense, thanks to three first-half turnovers and four overall by the Redskins (5-7). Dallas kept it going after halftime with a 21-7 scoring edge after getting outscored 72-6 in the second half of three straight losses without Elliott.

Alfred Morris, Elliott's replacement during the six-game suspension for alleged domestic violence, had 127 yards rushing and a clinching touchdown.

The Cowboys forced NFL-leading Philadelphia to wait until at least Sunday to clinch the division title. But Dallas still faces a steep climb to playoff contention, and two more games without Elliott.

The Redskins had already been eliminated in the division race and are virtually out of the postseason picture after Kirk Cousins threw two interceptions and lost a fumble while throwing two touchdown passes.

Jamison Crowder let the pass go through his hands on Cousins' first interception and fumbled on a Dallas punt a few plays later in the Redskins' fourth straight loss to the Cowboys, the longest such streak in the series since 2003-04.

"It was just miscues," Cousins said. "A dropped ball here, we had a nice drive down the field the second drive, just a tough turnover, and then it was one thing after another that were just mistakes. They happen, and we have to correct them."

By the time the Redskins answered Switzer's punt return with a 75-yard drive that ended with Cousins' 20-yard scoring pass to Ryan Grant, Prescott was ready to return. He had been holding his right hand in his helmet once he returned to the sideline.

Rookie backup Cooper Rush had his helmet on when the Redskins punted.

"If we didn't have the return by Switz, Cooper Rush would have got in the ballgame at that point," coach Jason Garrett said. "We got the return, Dak was able to come back out."

Prescott only threw for 102 yards, but didn't have a turnover after throwing five interceptions and losing three fumbles without a touchdown pass during the losing streak.

And the Cowboys looked more like the offense they have when Elliott is around, with Morris picking up big yardage on clock-killing drives with the Cowboys in front.

Cousins moved the Washington offensive sporadically because he was consistently harassed behind a patchwork offensive line that had to shuffle some more because of injuries. Cousins, who was 26 of 37 for 251 yards, was replaced by Colt McCoy late in the fourth quarter.

DeMarcus Lawrence, the NFL sacks leader most of the first half of the season, had two of Dallas' four sacks, ending a two-game drought and extending his career high to 13 1/2. Cousins was hit hard by David Irving on a sack in the fourth quarter.

Bryant's impact
Bryant still hasn't had a 100-yard game, his longest drought to start a season since his second year in 2011. But the 61-yard effort included a 24-yarder that set up his record-setting TD on the first play of the fourth quarter. "I was talking about that demeanor and that attitude that we carried," Prescott said. "I give him credit. He kind of brought it this week and pretty much tonight and you kind of felt it early."

More OL shuffling
Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses didn't return after injuring an ankle in the first half, forcing Ty Nsekhe to that spot after he was a fill-in starter at left guard on a patchwork line that's been dealing with injuries all season.

Left tackle Trent Williams left the field briefly in the third quarter. He's been inactive three of the past six games because a knee injury that will require surgery. Washington was already missing center Chase Roullier because of a hand injury.

Up next
Redskins: At Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 10.

Cowboys: At New York Giants on Dec. 10 to start a season-ending stretch of three of four on the road.

Eagles-Redskins should be a big fantasy game through the air

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AP Images

Eagles-Redskins should be a big fantasy game through the air

Monday night's game between the Eagles and Redskins should feature a whole lot of passing.

In four-point passing TD leagues, the Eagles have allowed 17.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, 11th-most in the NFL. The Redskins have allowed 15.4 per game, but they're without their first-round defensive lineman (Jonathan Allen) and have two banged-up starting cornerbacks (Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland).

This is the last game on the Week 7 schedule but could affect plenty of fantasy matchups.

TE Zach Ertz
Ertz has been the most consistent fantasy tight end this season and legitimately looks like a second-round pick next summer. 

He has a long track record of destroying the 'Skins and there's no reason to expect that to change Monday night. With Jordan Matthews gone, Ertz has become Carson Wentz's go-to guy on third down and in the red zone. 

Ertz is on pace to finish with 91 catches, 1,080 yards and 11 TDs this season. In NFL history, the only tight ends to reach all three numbers were Jimmy Graham in 2011 and Todd Christensen in 1983.

Projected stat line: 6 catches, 78 yards, TD

QB Carson Wentz
There aren't too many quarterbacks I'd start ahead of Wentz this week ... just Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins.

Wentz is averaging 264 passing yards and has 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He should be able to throw on this Washington secondary, with the main worry being Ryan Kerrigan's pass rush.

Projected stat line: 310 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT

QB Kirk Cousins
I'd expect similar stat lines from these two quarterbacks, with Cousins perhaps compiling more yards because he has less of a running game.

The strange thing about Cousins' season so far has been that he's put up numbers without Jordan Reed or Terrelle Pryor doing much of anything. In the four games Reed has played, he's averaged 4.5 catches for 35.5 yards and hasn't scored. Pryor, aside from his 44-yard touchdown, has 15 catches for 165 yards in five games.

Jamison Crowder (121 receiving yards) hasn't made much of an impact either.

But it hasn't prevented Cousins from averaging 267 passing yards with nine TDs and two picks. Cousins also already has a career-high 103 rushing yards with a rushing TD.

Cousins' two biggest-play threats have been running back Chris Thompson and backup tight end Vernon Davis, who's had catches of 69 and 51 yards in his last two games.

For me, Cousins is the No. 5 QB of the week (excluding the Thursday night game).

Projected stat line: 330 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

WR Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery has lined up nearly equally on the left and right sides this season — 46 percent on the left, 38 percent on the right. The Redskins haven't used a cornerback to shadow a particular receiver in any game this season, even when Norman has been healthy.

(Update: Norman has already been ruled out.)

So Jeffery should see some opportunities against both Breeland and Norman if they play, as well as Kendall Fuller.

In Week 1 against Washington, Jeffery caught three of seven targets for 38 yards, though you can almost throw that game out because it was the very first he played with Wentz.

With 10 days off in between Week 6 and Week 7, Wentz and Jeffery had plenty of time to work on their rapport. The Eagles had plenty of time to figure out additional ways to get Jeffery the ball downfield. The gut feeling here is you could see Wentz go deep to Jeffery on a jump-ball in the first series of the game. See if you can at least generate a pass interference call.

It seems like a matter of time until Jeffery, averaging eight targets per game, has his first huge stat line. To date, he's been a low-end WR2.

Projected stat line: 5 catches, 95 yards, TD

WR Nelson Agholor
Agholor has lined up in the slot on 88 percent of his snaps, and Fuller has done so on 87 percent of his snaps, so that's the matchup Monday night. 

Agholor is not a safe start. In Weeks 2 through 4, he had six catches combined. But he's been a big-play threat, averaging 16.1 yards per reception and scoring TDs in four different games.

I'd start Agholor this week ahead of guys like Pryor, Randall Cobb, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns and any Rams receiver. 

I would not start Agholor ahead of Mohamed Sanu or DeSean Jackson.

Projected stat line: 4 catches, 62 yards

TE Jordan Reed
It's Week 7, he's already had his bye, and yet Reed admitted again this week he's still not playing at 100 percent. In the past, it hasn't mattered much because Reed has produced even when banged-up. But this season, he's been extremely disappointing to those who drafted him in the fourth or fifth round.

Reed used to swallow up massive target shares from Cousins. In his first nine games last season, he saw 8.8 targets per game. The year before, he averaged 8.1 targets in 14 games.

This season, he's had target counts of 8, 6, 5 and 5. In his best game, he had six catches for 48 yards without a TD.

The Eagles' strong work against tight ends has carried over into 2017. After allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to TEs last season, the Eagles have allowed the ninth-fewest this season. 

Through six weeks, the only tight end to exceed 45 yards against the Eagles was Travis Kelce (8 for 103) in Week 2. They've allowed just two touchdowns to tight ends — Kelce and Hunter Henry.

Reed is not a great start this week, but tight end is so thin that you probably have to start him if you have him. 

I'd start Cameron Brate, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kyle Rudolph ahead of Reed this week.

Projected stat line: 5 catches, 55 yards

Other notes:
• Don't love LeGarrette Blount or Rob Kelley in this one. Wendell Smallwood will cut into Blount's carries, and Samaje Perine and Thompson will cut into Kelley's.

• I do really like Thompson in this one. Should be a fast-paced, vertical game and he's getting opportunities on more than just third down. I'd start Thompson ahead of Doug Martin, both Packers running backs, James White, Orleans Darkwa, Bilal Powell, Buck Allen, Duke Johnson and Frank Gore.

• Over the last two weeks, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has made separate comments indicating he wants to get both Crowder and Josh Doctson the ball more. Doctson has a better matchup this week than Crowder, who will line up mostly against the resurgent Patrick Robinson.