What Would Buddy Do?
Eagles - Skins Game Preview: of late-season heroics and chips on shoulders
Posted on December 21st, 2008 at 2:02 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Anyone else feeling set up for spirit-crushing disaster this afternoon?

The this-is-2006-all-over-again meme has what looks to be a battered and reeling Washington Redskins team as a brief layover ahead of next week’s season-ending Boss Fight against the Cowboys.  Sure, the Redskins are a decent team, but they appear to be collapsing, and are doing all sorts of dysfunctional stuff (players calling out the coach, etc etc).  With the Birds playing so well of late, it looks like this week’s game should be more than manageable for the Eagles.

Certainly that’s the narrative we’d all prefer.  The problem is that this is a division game, and I get the sense (mostly due to Chris Cooley’s blog) that the Redskins really don’t like the Eagles.  I think the Skins will come to play today.  And I think that means that this will be a brutal, anxiety-filled affair.

My bullet points and storylines ahead of the game:

Chips on shoulders and other cheap motivational tactics.  I really can’t get enough of all this chip-on-shoulder talk.  First it was Dunavin, then it was Reggie Brown?  Sure.  Awesome.  I actually wish that the Eagles would take it a step further and start rocking the none-of-you-people-respect-us thing.  That would work quite well, actually, in that, um, we didn’t really respect the Eagles during the dark interregnum of the Cincy-and-Balmore fortnight.

Injury report.  Trent Cole has to be salivating at the prospect of getting a backup tackle this afternoon instead of massive and talented Chris Samuels.  Hopefully that will make up for the depleted Birds’ receiving corps and suddenly third-string offensive line, where it looks like Mike McGlynn will replace Todd Herremans.  We like the rumblings about how McGlynn likes to “play to the whistle” (=”play dirty”), but we’d prefer if he’d pipe down about the Penguins.

Of FedEx Field affairs of yesteryear.  I like that the Eagles traditionally play well on the road against Washington. That includes a 7-2 record over their last nine there as well as the best single play that the Birds turned in last year.  I’ve only been to FedEx Field once, for the late-season game in 2003 (the Eagles cruised but Westbrook tore his triceps, essentially dooming the season), and I found it to be a wholly disagreeable place.  $25 to park in some office park and THEN I had to take a bus to the stadium?  BOOOOO.  What’s nice is that I think B-West treats FedEx Field like an extended home game and Dunavin certainly doesn’t seem intimidated by it.

Speaking of Skins games.  That game on October 5 was humiliating.  I felt personally defrauded by how unpleasant a day that was at Lincoln Financial Field.  Hopefully the guys on the team feel the same way.  I can only assume that the run defense will turn in a better effort this afternoon.  My nightmare scenario today is a repeat of that day, though: lots of back-breaking third downs, patient running from the Skins, and a spotty/ pass-heavy offense from the Birds.  The thought of Jason Campbell methodically converting third-and-3s is horrifying.

Who I got.  In lieu of any further recycling of this week’s sports pages, I’ll do some predicting.  While I do think that the Redskins will show up for work this week and won’t half-ass it, I don’t think the last couple weeks of Eagles games are bogus.  That is, I think the Eagles are playing the run better on defense (and playing great defense across the board) and that Donovan McNabb just might be on a mission of vengeance.  I expect some legit NFC East pushing and/ or shoving this afternoon, and I expect the Eagles will be standing at the end: Eagles 23, Redskins 13.

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