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The Washington Redskins are in control of the NFC East, but the Philadelphia Eagles would love to play spoiler on Sunday as RG3 returns to the field.
Before the season many people would have expected this game to feature one team with a shot to win the NFC East and another just hoping to play spoiler, but few would have guessed it would be the Redskins in control of the division. Washington has won five straight games behind two rookie quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, and in the process overtaken the New York Giants to lead the division. If they can win out to finish the season, they'll enter the playoffs as NFC East champs.
It looks as if the Redskins will get RG3 back on Sunday as the quarterback has been a full participant in practice all week. Griffin sprained his knee in Week 14 against the Ravens and was unavailable for the Week 15 contest against the Browns. Cousins filled in nicely, but Washington is happy to have their franchise quarterback back on the field for Sunday's game.
The Eagles started their season 3-1, but have since fallen apart, losing nine of their last ten games and have turned to rookie quarterback Nick Foles. Last time the Eagles met the Redskins marked Foles' first start in the league and the Redskins decimated him. Foles posted a 40.5 rating as Washington won 31-6 to begin their current five-game winning streak.
Meet the Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are having a season to forget, but wouldn't mind ending it with a couple games to remember by ruining the playoff hopes of their division rivals. After nine playoff appearance his first 13 seasons, this will likely be the last year for head coach Andy Reid. Philadelphia has limped to a 4-10 record and been a mess along the way. Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo was fired when the Eagles fell to 3-3, and things have only gotten worse since then.
It has been the Eagles offense that has truly struggled this season. They lead the league in turnovers with 34, and rank 29th in points per game at 18.1. Starting quarterback Michael Vick went down with a concussion on Nov. 11 and running back LeSean McCoy suffered his own concussion the following week against the Redskins. McCoy will his return on Sunday against the very team who knocked him out. It is expected that he will split carries with rookie Bryce Brown, who has been hot and cold as McCoy's replacement. Vick's job has been handed to Foles for the remainder of the season.
Meet the Washington Redskins
Washington is suddenly one of the hottest and most exciting teams in the NFL. RG3 brought excitement to Washington this season and has been a nonstop highlight reel. The story for the past two weeks in D.C. has been the status of Griffin. RG3 was limited in practice leading up to the Browns game and his status was unknown all week long. Ultimately, the other rookie QB, Cousins, got the start and performed admirably. He threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns with a 104.4 rating in a victory over Browns.
Of course, RG3 is still the star of this team. Griffin has 2,902 yards passing and 748 yards rushing with 24 total touchdowns. His 104.2 rating is second beast in the league. This week he has been a full participant in practice and will start on Sunday barring an unforeseen setback.
The quarterbacks aren't the only rookies making noise in Washington, as running back Alfred Morris has been a force. The sixth round draft pick has 1,322 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground this season, leading the league's top ranked rushing offense.
Local Takes: Philadelphia Eagles
EliotShorrParks from Bleeding Green Nation wonders how much does Michael Vick has left?
How much does Vick have left? Like the debate in Philadelphia this year, that opinion around the league is likely very split. There is no doubt that Vick had trouble holding onto the ball this year and at times missed some blitzes he should have picked up. Still, Vick played behind an offensive like that was shuffling pieces in and out week by week. He also still has a strong arm that can be fairly accurate. If Vick can be with a coach like Ryan who uses the run to protect his quarterback, he could excel. We all know the less Vick throws the more effective he is.
Local Takes: Washington Redskins
Ken Meringolo from Hogs Haven says that despite the value Kirk Cousins could bring with a trade, the Redskins should hold onto him:
Part of what confuses me when people suggest that we should trade Cousins this off season is the lack of historical perspective. We haven't had a solid quarterback situation for...jeez...maybe twenty years. In an era when Joe Gibbs found ways to stash players like Mark Rypien on injured reserve while Doug Williams and Jay Schroeder suited up, the Redskins focused on the kind of quarterback depth that led to multiple Super Bowls won by multiple signal callers.
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The Benny Hill music needed to for the soundtrack to this season needs to be 8 hours long— BleedingGreenNation (@BleedingGreen) December 14, 2012
Since throwing 2 INTs vs the #Redskins, Nick Foles has only thrown 1 INT in his last 4 games (5 TDs).— HogsHaven.com (@HogsHaven) December 20, 2012
Michael Vick said that he was RG3 on the #Eagles scout team. Can he simulate him? "He's a lot younger than me."— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) December 19, 2012
It just occurred to me that Tim Tebow has won more playoff games over the last four years than the Eagles.— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) December 19, 2012
Week 16 questions: (1) Will RG3 be himself? (2) Can banged-up oline perform well? (3) Will WSH pressure Foles? (4) Can WSH avoid turnovers?— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) December 20, 2012
The Redskins are at 28-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, per @bovadalv. Their odds hit bottom at 300-1 in Week 10.— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) December 20, 2012
Remember when this was going to be an important divisional game between both teams? Now it's just important for the Redskins, who are still hoping to clinch a playoff spot. Read about the playoff scenarios here, but the bottom line for the Redskins is that they have to win this game. A motivated Redskins team against the Eagles being the Eagles is an easy pick.
The pick: 33-17, Redskins
The Redskins are favored by between six and seven points depending on the sportsbook, according to Oddsshark.
The Eagles may have one more chance to play spoiler as they close out their season against the New York Giants. Washington hosts the Dallas Cowboys in a game that could be for the NFC East title.