How The Philadelphia Eagles Can Beat The Washington Redskins Saturday


The Philadelphia Eagles take on the Washington Redskins Saturday night and a win against the NFC East leader is simpler than you think.

If you don’t already know, the Philadelphia Eagles‘ showdown against the Washington Redskins Saturday night is kind of important. Extremely important, actually. The winner of this game will take the division lead with just one week left in the regular season, putting that team in prime position to head to the postseason. Do either of these teams really deserve to go to the playoffs? Not at all, but this is the reality that is the horrible NFC East.

For the Eagles, the playoffs are only attainable by beating Washington. Without a win against the ‘Skins, the season’s over. Like Philadelphia, the Redskins aren’t a very good football team. They just happen to be the least awful team in the division at this particular point in time, so a win for the Eagles Saturday is totally plausible as long as they follow a few simple guidelines.

Keep DeSean Jackson in check

Something that’s been a bit overlooked this week due to the importance of this game is DeSean Jackson’s return to Philadelphia, who will be a key factor to whether or not the Eagles are able to last another week in the hunt for the NFC East crown. As many Eagles fans already know, Jackson’s big play ability is more than enough to impact a football game and that must be minimized for the Eagles to walk away with a win.

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Unfortunately for Philadelphia, cornerback Byron Maxwell is currently nursing a shoulder sprain and may have to miss Saturday’s do-or-die matchup. If this is the case, rookie Eric Rowe will be the Eagles’ top corner and, though he’s been solid as a first-year player, he’s yet to face a player with the speed of Jackson. For the Eagles to shut him down, Rowe must play the lockdown role and stay on Jackson the entire game with safety help from Malcolm Jenkins and Walter Thurmond. Philadelphia cannot make the mistake of leaving a rookie corner on an island with a big-play threat such as Jackson like they did on Thanksgiving when Rowe was tasked with covering Calvin Johnson one-on-one. If they do, it will spell disaster and likely cost them the game.

Stop the run

Against the run, the Eagles will also need to stay on their toes. Alfred Morris has had a down year and Matt Jones has yet to make a consistent impact as a rookie, but Philadelphia cannot sleep on their ability to wear down opposing defenses. Both Morris and Jones are tough runners and the Eagles will likely be without starting nose tackle Bennie Logan in this contest. Filling in for him will be second-year player Beau Allen, who, in a rotational role, has been good for Philadelphia, but his lack of starting experience could prove to be problematic. Without a rushing attack, that forces Washington to throw the ball with Kirk Cousins, who, historically, is prone to making mistakes.

Win on third down

Like in any football game, third down will be a crucial part of who wins and loses this contest. The Redskins are highly efficient on third down. Matt Jones, as well as Chris Thompson, are great threats through the air and can easily catch Philadelphia off guard by flanking out into the flats and blazing past linebackers for a first down, which will kill the Eagles if they are not wary of the Redskins’ ability to convert. By aggressively rushing Kirk Cousins and manipulating the Redskins’ offensive line, the Eagles’ defense should be able to get off the field when they need to.

Run, run, run, run, run

Offensively, it’s as simple as running the football for the Eagles. The Redskins rank 28th in run defense this season and, with the diverse set of running backs the Eagles have, it’s imperative to put all of them to work.

Yes, even DeMarco Murray.

As good as Ryan Mathews has been for Philadelphia this season, the Eagles need to take a committee approach to this game. They can keep the defense guessing by giving Darren Sproles a prominent role early and often and, as the game wears on, gradually begin to hit them head-on with Murray and Mathews. This will tire their defense and eventually cause Washington’s defense to subside.

The game plan against the Redskins should be simple. Getting too caught up in statistics and all that exterior mumbo jumbo does nothing but cause more problems. If the Eagles play a solid game of smash mouth football against Washington on Saturday, there is no reason they won’t be able to walk away with the lead in the NFC East.