Week 11: Redskins vs. Eagles preview

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Keys to victory

1 Hit the middle » Philadelphia aligns its ends much wider than most teams, so the Redskins' ability to run between the tackles will be tested. They had success doing this in the second meeting last season -- and have a better offensive line and running back than they did in that game. A big key will be patience as running back Alfred Morris will be stopped by the penetration. But his ability to make the first defender miss and to run with excellent vision will be crucial.

2 Limit the big plays » The Redskins allow 6.2 yards per play -- only one team allows more. But the Eagles have not had their usual explosive offense and rank 15th in yards per play. However, they still have explosive players with receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy. They've had success vs. the Redskins and one or two plays is all it could take for the Eagles' offense to get moving. The Redskins have yet to prove they can stop big plays.

3 Pressure the rookie » The Eagles will start rookie quarterback Nick Foles, a third-round pick last April. He did play the second half vs. Dallas last week and had some success. But he made a couple risky/bad throws. Look for the Eagles to call a lot of quick passes early for Foles, who has a good arm. The Eagles' line is reconfigured, so the opportunity is there to bring pressure. But the secondary must do a good job disguising coverages to cause hesitation in Foles.

Key matchups

CB Josh Wilson

The Redskins often used Wilson when playing man coverage vs. the speedy Jackson in 2011.

vs.

WR DeSean Jackson

He's averaged 21 yards per catch -- on 12 receptions -- the past four games vs. Washington.

LB London Fletcher

He has not played to the same level as 2011 but still has speed and instincts.

vs.

RB LeSean McCoy

He hasn't been as big a factor this season, though he still has 705 yards rushing.

LB Ryan Kerrigan

He needs to apply more pressure. Kerrigan is effective when rushing from various spots.

vs.

RT Dennis Kelly

The rookie is part of a reconfigured line that could have a big impact in Sunday's game.

State of the teams

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are a mess, having lost five straight. They've also lost their starting quarterback, who was a turnover machine this year, and have a coach whose seat is white hot. But the Eagles have typically responded well when they've been counted out. Reports from Philadelphia suggest the Eagles have been as loose this week as ever.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins have lost three straight but should get a boost from the return of receiver Pierre Garcon and safety Brandon Meriweather. But how much of one? That remains to be seen. The team has lost three straight and while their head coach isn't as under fire as the Eagles', there's no doubt Mike Shanahan needs a few wins to back up his belief that they're headed in the right direction.

Examiner predicts

Yes, Michael Vick is out, but he was struggling anyway. They still have playmakers on both sides of the ball. The Redskins will run the ball well but lose.

Eagles 24, Redskins 20

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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