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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 2, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at MIA* DET at MIN* TEN at CLE* PIT at GB* PHI at WAS*
CAR at TB HOU at JAC* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CIN at BAL SD at NYJ SEA at ARI* DAL, STL Updates*

Prediction: Philadelphia 17, Washington 20

Here's a certain to be fascinating matchup because we cannot be quite sure which teams we will see. The Eagles usually get waxed in the first half of games and then either come roaring back or just die and the Redskins are appropriately named because they are beyond a mere blush after getting hammered in a shutout by the Giants - Joe Gibbs first such experience with the NFL goose egg. All three of the Eagle losses came on the road and all three home games by the Redskins were wins. But both teams are trying to re-establish themselves now after starting the season hot. Anything goes and the loser falls two games behind the Cowboys.

The Eagles swept the Redskins last season, winning 28-6 and 17-14.

Update: Owens has been suspended for at least this game.

Update:Terrell Owens has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable with a sprained ankle and practiced on Thursday. Donovan McNabb was downgraded to questionable with a rib contusion that is added to the lengthy list of other ailments. This could be all gamesmanship by the Eagles or it could be on the straight up. HC Andy Reid has a history of doing both. Watch for any word that either player will be inactive but at this point, the expectation is that the battered stars will both play and be limited. This is a big game they cannot afford to enter with less than a full squad so if they can play, they will be there. The Eagles may rely on Westbrook more if Owens is limited but it is all unclear likely until gametime. I am lowering numbers for Owens who has the better chance of missing this game. If he does - the Eagles cannot win here.

David Akers has a chance to kick this week though Jose Cortez would remain for kickoffs and longer field goals.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-3)
1 10-14 @ATL 10 Nov 14 DAL
2 42-3 SFO 11 Nov 20 @NYG
3 23-20 OAK 12 Nov 27 GBP
4 37-31 @KCC 13 Dec 5 SEA
5 10-33 @DAL 14 Dec 11 NYG
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @STL
7 20-17 SDC 16 Dec 24 @ARI
8 21-49 @DEN 17 Jan 1 WAS
9 Nov 6 @WAS . MON SAT
PHI at WAS Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 0 0 230,2
RB Brian Westbrook 40 50,1 0
TE L.J. Smith 0 40,1 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 50,1 0
WR Billy McMullen   20  
WR Greg Lewis 0 50 0
WR Reggie Brown 0 40 0
PK Jose Cortez 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Eagles have not lost two consecutive games this season but their only road win has been in Kansas City that required a big comeback after falling behind early. The slow starts are making the Eagles resort to manic passing to catch up and have left the rushing game almost entirely ignored for the last month. No other team in the NFL has thrown as many passes as the Eagles have. Not many teams have had the need either.

Quarterback: Donovan McNabb threw 11 passes before getting a completion last week (if you do not count the one interception) but he still roared back to end with 283 yards and three scores thanks in no small part to Terrell Owens turning a catch into a 91-yard touchdown. McNabb was clearly off target and reasonably bothered by his sports hernia. It usually takes him at least a quarter to "warm up" and start hitting receivers. Prior to last week, he only had one score in the two previous games combined. That cannot stand in Washington this week unless the Redskins are the week 8 version again - unlikely.

McNabb threw for 260 yards and one score in Washington last season.

Running Backs: As noted, the Eagles simply do not run anymore. Brian Westbrook has a high of 15 carries in a game this year and only had 13 for 48 yards against the Broncos. McNabb is too busy throwing incompletions at the start of games to hand off the ball to Westbrook. At least Westbrook catches passes and he leads the NFL in receiving yardage by a running back (423). It's just that no other primary back actually has more yards in receptions than runs (304). Westbrook has four scores while catching the ball but only once has actually rushed it in.

Westbrook only gained 59 rushing yards in Washington last season but added an additional 59 yards in six receptions.

Wide Receivers: While Reggie Brown had a career high 44 yards on two catches last week, there is no threat from any wideout other than Terrell Owens. Even in a terrible game last week, Owens still turned in 154 yards and one touchdown that stemmed from the 91-yard jaunt to the endzone. In the two previous games, he only had 103 total yards and scored only once. The passing scheme is all about Owens and so far only the Cowboys and Chargers have stopped him.

Owens was held to only six catches for 46 yards and no score in Washington last year.

Tight Ends: L.J. Smith only had one catch last week for one yard but he was standing in the endzone when he caught it. That gives him three scores on the season now but his best games have all happened while at home. His best effort on the road was 67 yards and a score in Kansas City but he only had six catches for 53 yards in the other three road games combined.

L.J. Smith had two catches for 12 yards and one score against the Redskins last year.

Match Against the Defense: The Eagles do not run anymore and the Redskins at home have been exponentially better than the squad that allowed Barber to gain 201 yards last week. Expect minimal rushing yardage of course and Westbrook will gain more on receptions. His chance of scoring is pretty low - only Holmes had a receiving score as a running back against the Redskins and that was back in Kansas City.

The Redskins pass defense had been topnotch this season though it has hardly faced many good quarterbacks, let alone the most productive of all. The only two notable quarterbacks were Hasselbeck (242, 1 TD) and Bledsoe (261, 1 TD). The question is simply can the Redskins cover Owens and will Smith and Westbrook contribute? The Redskins already gave up nice games to Engram and Glenn, so there is a chance that Owens can still get open. This won't likely be a game with many points and the Eagles will be able to score though Smith won't likely since no tight end has against the Redskins this season.

And it also depends on how quickly McNabb gets warmed up - or if he does at all.

Washington Redskins (4-3)
1 9-7 CHI 10 Nov 13 @TBB
2 14-13 @DAL 11 Nov 20 OAK
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 SDC
4 20-17 SEA 13 Dec 4 @STL
5 19-21 @DEN 14 Dec 11 @ARI
6 21-28 @KCC 15 Dec 18 DAL
7 52-17 SFO 16 Dec 24 NYG
8 0-36 @NYG 17 Jan 1 @PHI
9 Nov 6 PHI . MON SAT
WAS vs PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Brunell 0 0 250,2
RB Clinton Portis 70 10 0
TE Chris Cooley 0 30,1 0
WR Santana Moss 0 110,1 0
WR David Patten 0 50 0
WR James Thrash 0 30 0
PK Nick Novak 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: Just when the Redskins were looking great (week 3) they hit a tough part of the schedule and lost three of the last four games - the only win being at home against the 49ers which was more of a scrimmage between varsity and the JV team really. Outside of the 49er game, the offense has never scored more than 21 points and relied on Santana Moss to get all those points and yards. When that was taken away last week, the offense could not move the ball. With a road game to Tampa Bay looming the next week, a loss here could mean dropping five of their last six games and instantly ruin their hot start by turning in just another mediocre season.

Quarterback: It all hit the fan when the Redskins went to New York last week and the beat down was so bad that Mark Brunell was yanked from the game so that Patrick Ramsey could go get battered. Brunell had not failed to throw for at least two scores in each of the five previous games including a season high against the Broncos when he had 322 yards and two scores. If the Eagles hold true to their trends of the last five weeks, Brunell is a lock to turn in another big game. Then again - that was true in last week's debacle.

Ramsey never scored against the Eagles last year, and had games of 162 and 251 yards,

Running Backs: After Clinton Portis finished violating the 49ers for 101 yards and three scores in week seven, he went to New York where he covered more yardage walking to the cab from the airport terminal than he did in the game. He only had four carries for nine yards. He wasn't injured, there just was no sense in trying to run. Portis has only scored in one game this year - the 49ers match-up.

Portis gained 80 yards and scored twice when the Eagles visited Washington in 2004.

Wide Receivers: Santana Moss has been the only Redskin wideout to score this year and the only one with more than 60 yards in a game. After averaging 124 yards per game, he was held to only four catches for 34 yards while David Patten only had one catch for six yards. Without Moss, this offense completely stalls and cannot make up ground with any speed.

Tight Ends: Chris Cooley sprained a knee and hurt his hip last week and did not play in much of the game. He may miss some practice time this week but I am assuming that he plays with minor limitation this week. Updates as warranted.

Match Against the Defense: Portis has been only average this year and never scores unless it is against the 49ers, so expect a moderate game from him this week. The Eagles rush defense has been generally good this year and the Redskins are generally average running the ball.

The only question is if Santana Moss can have a big game here, particularly since Cooley may be banged up. The Eagles have allowed other flankers to have nice games - Glenn in particular - but the main question is how well the Redskins can bounce back after the massacre in New York. They only have an average rushing game and little more than Moss as a receiver. Look for Moss to turn in at least a moderate game and have the chance of a big one if he lands a couple long gainers - it would not be the first time for either him or the Eagles defense for it to happen.