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    • DATE: December 3, 2013
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    • DATE: December 3, 2013
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    • DATE: December 3, 2013
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Redskins-Eagles: 4 Keys To The Game

Posted Nov 14, 2013

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Eagles clash at The Linc.

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Eagles clash at The Linc.

“Redskins-Eagles: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.

Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99, plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.


HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE

Lincoln Financial Field has hardly been a safe haven for the Eagles, who have lost 10 straight home games dating back to September 2012. The frustration of Eagles fans grows with each mounting defeat.

This is a situation that the Redskins have to exploit. The Eagles are tied for first place in the division right now and their fans are excited to become a factor in the game. Philadelphia has the well-deserved reputation of having passionate, vocal fans, and the Redskins have the opportunity to turn them against the home team.

How? Start fast. It's something the Redskins have struggled with all year, but have the ability to do. Be aggressive in the opening possession and leave the Eagles reeling. The longer that the Eagles can maintain the fans' optimism, the harder it will be. Given the Redskins' struggles to communicate during road games this season, this is not a situation the Redskins want to find themselves in.

A balanced offensive attack is always the best plan, but when the opportunities open up in the passing game, take shots down the field. Last year, the Redskins scored on passes of 49 yards and 61 yards to Aldrick Robinson and Santana Moss respectively. Set up the running game, establish play action and then light 'em up.

REVENGE: A DISH BEST SERVED COLD

The Redskins coaches and players can say what they want about this not being a personal game, but they certainly owe the Eagles a payback for the Week 1 dismantling on national television.

The offense was held scoreless until the third quarter and turned the ball over three times. Alfred Morris fumbled twice in his first three touches. The defense gave up 263 rushing yards.

With all of that being said, this is a Redskins team that seems to operate best when they can be methodical and take the emotion out of the contest. That was the squad's calling card last season when they rattled off seven-straight wins to the playoffs. It's not a lack of passion, but it's harnessing it in the right way.

The Redskins need to play inspired, but extremely disciplined football on Sunday. Given the slim margin of error on the road against a division opponent, the Redskins need to win the turnover battle, time of possession, and not get flagged for flagrant penalties.

So far this season, the Redskins are averaging 6.5 penalties for 57 yards per game, committing the same number of turnovers as takeaways and holding possesion for 31:48. The Eagles average 6.3 penalties for 57 yards per game, earning two more takeaways than turnovers and holding the ball for 25:10.

Win the turnover battle, time of possession and penalties and the Redskins should walk out of Philadelphia with their fourth win of the season.

PLAY KEEPAWAY

Even counting the Redskins' loss to Minnesota last Thursday, the Redskins are 10-2 when running back Alfred Morris gets 20 or more carries. The Redskins have ridden A.M.Trak to Philly before, and now it's time to ride him home.

The Shanahans enjoy running the hot hand in the running game and Morris is red hot right now, piling up 51 carries for 260 yards and a touchdown in a span of four days. Unlike most other backs that wear down over the course of a game, Morris has a reputation for getting stronger as the contest goes along.

Turn him loose, win the battle of possession and this team has a good chance of success.

The alternative is throwing the ball too much and letting the Eagles and NFL leading rusher LeSean McCoy dictate the pace of the game. The Redskins gave up 263 yards on the ground in Week 1 and let the Eagles stay on the field for 20 minutes in the first half, putting the game away before halftime.

The difference this time around is that the Redskins should know what to expect with 10 weeks of Eagles game film at their disposal.

Here's the trick: McCoy is having a Pro Bowl caliber season (932 yards, three touchdowns), but has been limited to four 100-yard games while he has been limited to fewer than 60 yards on five occasions. The Redskins are comfortable with taking him out of the game and taking their chances with Nick Foles.

If the Eagles are willing to oblige then it plays perfectly into what the Redskins want to accomplish. Key on No. 25.

SOPHOMORE BLUES

Unlike Week 1 when the storyline was Robert Griffin III vs. Michael Vick, this time it will be a battle of the sophomores: Griffin III vs. Foles.

Last year, Foles looked every bit the untested rookie, turning the ball over four times and getting sacked nine times against the Redskins. He hasn't thrown an interception this year, but is susceptible to the sack (ten in five starts).

The Redskins' pass rush has only seven sacks in the last five games and needs to get back on track against a much more traditional pocket passer.

On the flipside of the ball, Robert Griffin III has been outstanding in the last two weeks and has played like his 2012 form ever since the bye week. He is the straw that stirs the Redskins drink on offense, and his pinpoint accuracy in recent weeks, combined with his willingness to run hard and take a hit makes him primed for a big-time performance.

Both offenses want to run the football, but this game is likely to boil down to the stat line of each quarterback. Protect the football, keeping the play alive and throwing the football downfield should determine which sophomore celebrates and which one has the blues.

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