By Michael Donovan
Tonight’s the night.
The Eagles play their most important game of the 2015 season against the Redskins, and if they win next week’s game against the New York Giants will become the most important.
And here’s why the Eagles will win:
Washington come in with a one-game advantage, but the Eagles looks a little better at this point. The Eagles are the only team in the NFC East to beat a team with a winning record!
They accomplished this against a tough AFC East division with victories over the New York Jets and New England Patriots.
This is also likely the most important game of Chip Kelly’s young career as an NFL head coach. The Eagles won 10 games in each of his first two seasons in charge, and now Philly can only reach a maximum of eight wins this year if they take care of business in the final two weeks. Despite the frustrations, the Birds still control their destiny and can salvage this underwhelming season with a playoff birth.
The Eagles need an improved contribution from their running game in order to win tonight.
The Eagles average 112.7 yards per game on the ground, but their performances have been declining in the last few weeks. But this weekend, the Eagles will establish a consistent running game against Washington’s 28th-ranked rush defense.
DeMarco Murray will not return to glory this weekend, but he will help the Eagles get over 100 yards on the ground collectively against a defense that gives up 129.8 rushing yards per game.
This mild success will open up the play-action passing game that helped Bradford succeed against the Redskins in Week 4. Instead of Riley Cooper and Miles Austin scoring deep, Bradford will return to his favorite targets of Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews. The tight end opened the scoring with a 22-yard catch and the second-year receiver found himself wide open for a 78-yard touchdown against Arizona last weekend.
On the other side, Cousins has struggled with ball security away from home, as he quarterback has thrown an interception in all 12 of his away games in his career. Meanwhile, Philly is tied for sixth in the NFL with 15 interceptions on the year. Look for one of the Eagles’ safeties to come away with an interception in double coverage against Cousins.
In typical NFC East fashion, this game will be a tightly contested battle with a lot at stake. And instead of Cousins repeating his heroics from their earlier contest, Bradford will come away with accolades following this Week 16 showdown.
The Eagles will squeeze out a a tight three-point victory over the Redskins this week to give Kelly the opportunity to win his second division title in three years in the final week of the regular season.
Eagles 27, Redskins 24