The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins are set to play a big game tonight on
the Saturday edition of Thursday Night Football. It's absolutely a must-win affair for the Birds. Philadelphia will be eliminated with a loss and Washington can clinch the division with a victory. Here are three keys to an Eagles win in this do-or-die game.
1) Air it out
You can bet Kirk Cousins will be looking to connect deep with DeSean Jackson quite a few times in this game. The Eagles might not have a vertical threat like Jackson, but that shouldn't stop them from airing it out in this game. Sam Bradford needs to take shots down the field. Bradford had a lot of success moving the ball through the air the last time these two teams played. He finished 270 yards on just 28 total throws. His 9.64 yards per attempt was the best of his season. Washington's defense is vulnerable. They've allowed the sixth most passing plays of 20 yards or more. Their pass defense ranks 20th by Football Outsiders. Without question, this is a game where Bradford needs to step up and show he's "the guy."
It also wouldn't hurt if Eagles receivers could actually catch a pass for once. Or get some separation. Or just be of any use to the offense. This would be a good time for first round pick Nelson Agholor to show something.
Maybe you're not religious, but that's the only way I can think of how the Eagles are going to stop DeSean. The former Eagles receiver is always up for these games. Jackson combined for 243 yards and one touchdown on just nine receptions against Philadelphia's defense last season. Byron Maxwell is likely going to be out. Eric Rowe is set to play, so at least there's that. The rookie has played well since getting destroyed by Calvin Johnson on Thanksgiving. There's no denying Jackson is going to get his, especially if/when he gets matched up against the likes of Jaylen Watkins/E.J. Biggers. For the Eagles, it's just a matter of trying to limit DeSean's damage.
Prayers for the Eagles' pass rush would also be useful. Cousins didn't get pressured very often in Week 4. The Eagles only sacked him once and hit him three times. They'll need a much bigger effort this time around. The good news for Philadelphia is that Washington is dealing with some offensive line injuries. Starters Josh LeRibeus and Morgan Moses have been ruled questionable to play.
3) Home field advantage
There's no denying Washington has been a much better team at home than on the road. They're 2-12 in their last 14 road games. They have been outscored 403 to 269 in that span, which comes out to an average of 28.8 to 19.2 per game. Check out some more of these home/road splits:
Kirk Cousins splits: Home: 2,170 yards, 74.7%, 8.44 ypa, 16 td, 2 int Road: 1,455 yards, 64%, 6.47 ypa, 6 td, 9 INT #Eagles #EaglesTalk— Patrick Causey (@InsdeTheHuddle) December 26, 2015
Morris/Jones running game splits: Home: 856 yards, 4.03 ypc, 2 td Road: 236 yards, 2.4 ypc, 2 td #Eagles #EaglesTalk— Patrick Causey (@InsdeTheHuddle) December 26, 2015
As noted by a Washington writer, part of the reason these road struggles exist is because the Redskins have played tough teams (Patriots, Panthers, etc).
Still, this is opportunity for Eagles fans to make a difference. The team needs their fans more than ever in this one.