Redskins look to wrap up the NFC East in Philadelphia

WASHINGTON — Picked by many national publications to finish at or near the bottom of the NFL when the season started, the Redskins are on the brink of their first division title since 2012 and second in 16 years.  They face an Eagles team that they have beaten already once this year, and lost big at home this past week to Arizona.

Redskins players have been focused all week knowing that their work isn’t done and that they need to win one more game.  The leaders in the locker room have done a great job all year keeping the team focused on the next game, that’s what the players have been preaching.

A big part of why this team has won five of eight has been the continued development of Kirk Cousins and the health of DeSean Jackson.  In the last eight weeks, Cousins has thrown 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions.  Jackson is coming off a season high 153 yard, one touchdown performance against the Bills and has a touchdown in four of his last five games.

This will be the fourth time Jackson will face his former team.  He’s been downplaying the matchup this week, saying only that it’s a game that the Redskins need to win and that’s what he wants to focus on. You know he will be ready to go on Saturday.

Cousins has also counted on Jordan Reed during this stretch, finding the tight end for two touchdowns last week.

The Eagles defense has been struggling as of late and the Redskins need to take advantage of that. It has allowed an average of 35 points a game over the last five weeks, including 40 last week against the Cardinals. The Eagles run defense is ranked 30th in the league giving up an average of 134 yards a game.  The Redskins seemed to have found their run game a bit over the last couple weeks, still averaging under 100 yards a game but Alfred Morris was pretty solid last week.

Through the air, the Redskins have had success the last few weeks with Cousins using his weapons to move the ball pretty efficiently.  Last week he led touchdown drives on his first three possessions.  The Eagles pass defense is ranked 24th in the league giving up nearly 260 yards a game.  The defense could be even more depleted with CBs Byron Maxwell and Eric Rowe dealing with injuries and their status unknown.

The one thing I am concerned about a bit is the Redskins’ run defense, still near the bottom of the league allowing nearly 130 yards a game.  The Eagles have had some success in running the football, hovering in the upper half of the league in that category.  The Redskins are going to need to stop the run in order to be successful on Saturday.

The weather forecast is calling for an 80 percent chance of rain in Philadelphia on Saturday, so expect the conditions to possibly be a little messy. That could favor the Redskins if they are able to move the football.

The Redskins are trying for their first three-game winning streak of the season in what is essentially a playoff game.  A win over the Eagles and the NFC East crown will reside in D.C. and a home playoff game will take place at FedEx Field.  The Eagles also control their own playoff fate.  If the Eagles win out, they are division champs.  With that being said, I have a hard time thinking the Eagles will match the Redskins intensity and focus on Saturday night.  It seems that the questioning surrounding Chip Kelly and the Eagles every week takes away from where the focus is supposed to be — on the field.

Let’s see if the Redskins can take advantage and wrap things up on Saturday.  Either way, enjoy this Redskins fans, it’s been a while.

George Wallace

George Wallace is the WTOP sports director. He began at WTOP on Christmas Day of 2000.

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