Sure it's only mid-October, but for the Redskins, Sunday's matchup against the Eagles marks a pivotal game in the run for the NFC East title.
Dallas is a win ahead of both Washington and Philadelphia, but the victor between the 'Skins and Eagles will be in the thick of the race.
The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at FedEx Field, but the coverage starts on CSN at noon. The forecast calls for clear skies and pleasant temperatures, perfect weather for tailgating.
LIVE BLOG: WEEK 6 REDSKINS VS. EAGLES
Here are five storylines to watch:
- The read on Reed - Redskins tight end Jordan Reed is arguably the best player on the team, and certainly the centerpiece of the offense. QB Kirk Cousins has targeted Reed on nearly 25 percent of his throws this season, but Washington will be without the tight end against the Eagles as he deals with a concussion sustained last week. Reed leads the team in catches and receiving yards. It's hard to overstate his importance to this team, and in his absence, what the offense will look like.
- More for DeSean? - With Reed out, Cousins must throw the ball elsewhere. While veteran Vernon Davis is an able fill in, and perhaps more, expect more passes to DeSean Jackson. Jay Gruden joked this week of Jackson,"When I wake up at 5:30 in the morning or 4:00 and he is standing outside my garage with a baseball bat, I think I better get him the ball." While that's a joke, Gruden admitted Jackson deserves the ball more, and though his personal vendetta against the Eagles has dimmed with Chip Kelly gone from Philly, it's highly likely Jackson would still enjoy scoring against his former team.
- The gang in green - Newsflash: The Eagles are pretty good. Counted out before the season began with a rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz has looked strong for Philly through four games, and head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich are playing to the QB's strengths. Wentz is completing 67 percent of his passes, has thrown seven TDs to just one interception. Washington's defense better be ready, and defensive coordinator Joe Barry knows it, "[Wentz's] got all the tools, he’s got the skillset, and they’re doing a great job coaching him and calling plays for him."
- Bring him down - In just four games, Wentz has been sacked seven times, and this week against the 'Skins, the Eagles will be without a top offensive lineman. Right tackle Lane Johnson begins a 10-game suspension this week, and starting in his place will be fifth-round rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has never been active for an NFL game. Washington's group of pass rushers, starting with Trent Murphy but including Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Chris Baker, must get to Wentz, and the weakness on the right side is something the 'Skins must try to exploit.
- Kirk Likes That - Kirk Cousins has started 30 games in his NFL career, and there is no team he's performed better against than the Eagles. In three games against Philadelphia, Cousins is averaging 360 yards per game to go along with eight touchdowns and just one interception. Last season, Cousins and the 'Skins swept the Eagles, including an NFC East clinching win on the road at Lincoln Financial Field. The Redskins offense is yet to fully click, though if history is any guide, Sunday against Philly might be the breakout.
Numbers & Notes
- The Redskins rank first in the NFC and third in the NFL in total pass completions with 130.
- The Redskins rank first in the NFC and are tied for first in the NFL with 13 field goals made, and 14 field goals attempted.
- The Redskins defense ranks first in the NFC and are tied for first in the NFL with eight forced fumbles.
- Trent Murphy is tied for third in the NFC and tied for seventh in the NFL with 4.5 sacks.
- Josh Norman ranks second in the NFC and tied for third in the NFL with eight passes defensed.
- If Pierre Garçon catches a touchdown pass on Sunday he will become the 15th player in Redskins history to post 20 touchdown receptions with the team.
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