Last Sunday, the Washington Redskins faced the task of going into the house of one of the NFL's elite teams and they came out with a victory.
This Sunday, the Redskins are again are going on the road to face the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles are not one of the league's elite teams.
I'm going to go there and use the O-word on them.
As in overrated.
They've been mired in the NFL's mass of mediocrity for the past few years. They went 6-10 in 2005. The next year they won their last five games to get into the playoffs at 10-6. They followed that up in 2007 with an 8-8 performance.
So that's one bad year followed by a pretty good year followed by a mediocre year. That kind of reminds me of what the Bengals have done in the same time span, only in a slightly different order. It kind of reminds me of the Panthers. It's not unlike the Redskins' performance over the last three years, only not quite as good. Does anyone talk about the Bungles in a conversation about the league's elite teams? The media finally gave up on the Panthers. And if the Redskins were 2-2 would they be in the top half of anyone's power rankings?
But the Eagles are still talked about as a force to be reckoned with.
Don't get me wrong, they're not bad. Andy Reid is a very accomplished coach, although his message may be wearing thin in his 10th year in the same place. They field very good players in many positions, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. Their top three corners could start for most teams in the league, including the Redskins.
But something always seems to go awry. In Dallas their offense showed up but their D couldn't stop Romo and company. Their defense was utterly dominant against Pittsburgh but they couldn't put the Steelers away until the fourth quarter. Last week in Chicago both sides of the ball had issues. Kyle Orton—Kyle Orton!—threw three touchdown passes in the first half. The defense tightened up in the second half but Philly couldn't punch it in after driving to a first and goal at the four. They had three shots from the one and they didn't get it done.
All of that being said, this will not be an easy game for the Redskins. They are going on the road to face a division opponent. Jason Campbell's newfound confidence will be tested by a defense that blitzes, confuses, and features the aforementioned stud corners. Bryan Westbrook's ankle appears to be healing well enough to give him a shot at playing and he's a certified Redskins killer. Donovan McNabb also frequently finds a way to give the Redskins fits.
But, right now, the Redskins are the better team. Right now it seems like every active player with the exception of Todd Collins every week does something to help out. Rookie Chris Horton makes a veteran play to intercept Romo, Kareem Moore is downfield on kick coverage, Todd Yoder slips into the end zone to make a touchdown grab, H. B. Blades performs well in a starting role when Marcus Washington is hurt, Demitric Evans excels when Jason Taylor goes out. I could go on but you know what I mean.
Back in the late '60's and early '70's when the NFL had 40-man roster limits, the Minnesota Vikings liked to use the slogan "40 for 60", meaning 40 players fighting together for 60 minutes. Something like "45 (plus Colt) for 60 (plus as many overtime minutes as may be necessary)" wouldn't flow quite as smoothly, but it would fit the '08 Redskins.
And don't forget Jim Zorn, who right now is giving the Redskins an edge over 60 minutes, keeping the opposition off balance with his play calling. And he's keeping his team on an even keel.
Sometimes you don't have to go down through the player matchups to figure out who has an edge in a particular game. Instead of looking at Team A's right guard vs. Team B's right tackle, you can look at the mindset matchup.
The Redskins are having fun. The Eagles are going to work.
The Skins will be having a lot more fun on Sunday at about 4:15 when Zorn is leading another three cheers for the Redskins.
Redskins 24, Eagles 10