The Washington Redskins (8-6) are surging towards January and perhaps (REALLY?) a run at New Orleans.
The Philadelphia Eagles (4-10) are making a run for the border, as in "South of the Border," the vacation area at the North Carolina/South Carolina border ...or perhaps for a Taco Bell near you. Either way, it doesn't matter - they're done like Christmas dinner.
It's game number 15 for the Redskins as they try and make a once unlikely push to the playoffs & secure their first winning season since 2007, and a playoff spot if they win and the Giants (@ BALTIMORE), Vikings (@ HOUSTON) and Bears (@ ARIZONA) all lose. With the Giants and Bears games beginning at 4:25, the Redskins even with a win won't know until about 7:30 for sure if they are in the playoffs, but winning is the most important thing.
We begin at 9 AM with Redskins Gameplan featuring Larry Michael, John Keim (@John_Keim) & me (@Russellmania980), on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3/92.7 FM & right here on ESPN980.com.
The official Redskins KIA Motors pregame show begins at 10 with Kevin Sheehan (@KevinS980) live in DC, while Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell), Rick "Doc" Walker (@RickDocWalker), Sonny Jurgensen and me are live at Lincoln Financial Field. That show airs on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3/92.7 FM and in part on the Washington Redskins Radio Network.
After the game, it's my guy Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) with help from Scott Jackson (@JacksonSports) live until about 7:30 PM on ESPN 980 & the Washington Redskins Radio Network.
With that being said, let's go "Inside the Numbers" a long and winding look at some of the key statistics, trends and facts you need to know, as you watch the game & hopefully listen to our all-day coverage live from Philadelphia.
WHY HAVE THE REDSKINS WON FIVE IN A ROW? Washington has forced ten turnovers during the win streak (2.0/game AVG) & 11 (2.2/game) sacks over the streak. They've allowed 351 yards average-per-game (1,755/5). Over the course of the 14-game season, they've allowed an average of 381 yards-per-game, to rank a non-inspiring 29th in the league. It's only 30 yards per game difference, but that could be the ultimate difference sometimes.
Turnovers are the key however, along with increased pressure. In their three-game losing streak before the bye, the Redskins forced two turnovers (@ NYG) and none against Pittsburgh or Carolina and had only two sacks (@ NYG, @ PITT). The bottom-line as we have said all along, they can not win and stop opponents without doing both, not just one.
THE CAPTAIN IS CALLING: London Fletcher has four interceptions this year, he will be shooting for his 5th of year and to try and pick one off in his third straight game. In 2000, Fletcher had three interceptions in 2 back-to-back games and all four picks in the span of four games. He's never had an interception in three straight during his career, and a fifth this year would be a career high.
If Fletcher gets a interception in the next two games, he'll be in sole possession of 2nd on the active linebacker list for most interceptions. He's tied with Brian Urlacher right now.
If the Redskins as a team, have more than one interception, it would be the 7th game this year. That would be the most since 1999 (7 games). Eagles QB Nick Foles has thrown 4 interceptions in 6 games (2 vs. Redskins 11/18), 5 of those starts.
If the Redskins return an interception for a touchdown for a 4th time this year - it would be the first time since 1984, a burgundy and gold defense did that.
Continuing the turnover trend, the Eagles have only forced 12 turnovers this year (7 INT, 5 FUM) & have turned ball over 34 times (13 INT, 21 lost fumbles). That's a very undesirable minus 22 turnover differential, which puts them tied for 31st in the NFL. The Redskins are + 13, which ties them for 4th in the league.
A PASS RUSH THAT'S ONLY GETTING BETTER We know how pitiful it was earlier this year, because of the Orakpo/Carriker injury effect. To illustrate that point, in 2011 -- Ryan Kerrigan had 7.5 sacks & led the Redskins with 42 QBP (Quarterback Pressures) according to coaches film. This year, Kerrigan has 6.5 sacks and only 20 QBP.
Last year, NT Barry Cofield in his first year at nose-tackle & in the 3-4, had only 18 QBP's with more help from Orakpo/Kerrigan. In year 2 with two games to go, he already has 32 QBP's, which leads the entire defense. Fellow DL Stephen Bowen is 2nd on the club with 30. Both Bowen and Cofield are 28, and clearly part of the foundation for the Redskins defensive line.
As a point of comparison, in 2010 -- Jim Haslett and Mike Shanahan's first year -- Brian Orakpo led the Redskins with 47 QBP's. Vonnie Holliday was 2nd with 28, and everybody's hero, Albert Haynesworth was tied for third with 20. Now, Cofield, Bowen, and Kerrigan are 1-2-3. Holliday and Haynesworth were both traded at the start of training camp in 2011.
Also in 2010, Washington racked up 29 sacks on the year (pathetic) with Orakpo (no Kerrigan, Cofield, Bowen). This year, they have 25 (without Orakpo and Carriker for all but 1 + game, and their starting safeties missed pretty much the entire year).
TACKLE, TACKLE, TACKLE: According to Redskins coaches film statistics - London Fletcher has 159 total tackles, Perry Riley has 141, & DeAngelo Hall has 102 total. Lorenzo Alexander has 28 special teams (leads team) & 24 defensive tackles, 1.5 sacks and 9 QBP's.
I THINK SPECIAL TEAMS WILL BE SPECIAL: The Eagles are allowing 13.4 yards per punt return and 25.1 per kickoff return this year. By contrast, the Redskins allow only 6.6 per punt return, & 23.8 per kickoff return. The Eagles allowed the Cowboys to return a punt 78 yards for a touchdown on November 11. Richard Crawford, who took over for Brandon Banks in the punt return role against Baltimore, is averaging a lofty 23.6 per return which was elevated by the money 64-yard return in overtime against Baltimore. Even if you take away that return, Crawford has returned four kicks for 54 yards, or an average of 13.5 per return. Remember, the Eagles allow 13.4 per punt return.
Of course, the Redskins will depend on PK Kai Forbath, who is a perfect (15-15 FG's) on the year, including (10-10) from 40 +. They'll need him to be better on kickoffs, as that continues to be an issue in a variety of ways. He only has one touchback in the last three games, and Washington allowed an average of 27.3 per return (7) in Cleveland and 29.0 per return against Baltimore (5), along with a kick that went out-of-bounds.
The former Eagles punter, Sav Rocca has been mostly strong of late as his knee gets better. He's averaged a net of 39.6, 39.0, 38.3, 41.8, 39.8 in the five game winning streak. In that span, he's had 8 kicks inside the 20.
WE HAVEN'T EVEN MENTIONED ROBERT GRIFFIN III ...UNTIL NOW: Per ESPN Next Level statistics, Griffin is 1st in the NFL in completion % (57.4) & Yards per attempt (16.7), and 2nd in Total QBR (99.2), when passing the ball 15 + yards down field.
Griffin III in his rookie season has saved a lot of his best for divisional games (3-1). In the Giants games, there were some uneven moments with ball control - but against Philadelphia and Dallas which were back-to-back games last month (as they are now) - he's been terrific. His QB rating against all division opponents is 135.3, which currently put his ahead of guys like Aaron Rodgers (2011), Tom Brady (2007) and Steve Young (1994) for highest passer rating against divisional opponents in a season in NFL history (based on a minimum 75 attempts). Griffin III has thrown for 11 touchdown passes and two interceptions plus one lost fumble (plus a fumble to Josh Morgan for a TD) inside the NFC East this year. In addition, he's run the ball 33 times for 274 yards (8.3/carry) in NFCE games. Two of his top three games in terms of rushing totals have come inside the division. Against the rest of the NFL (non division), he has 79 rushes for 474 yards (6.0 per attempt). The one thing he has yet to do in divisional games? Score a rushing touchdown.
If the Redskins get 400 + net yards of offense on Sunday, they would improve to (6-1) this year when doing that. Just as a point of comparison, with 399 or less - They're (3-5).
KEEP IT ROLLING: The Redskins with a win would have longest regular season winning streak (six) since a 7-game win streak, Weeks 2-9 in 1996, according to Redskins PR. The Redskins with a win in Philly would be (5-3) on road in 2012. The last time they had more wins on road? 1991, when they won seven road games.
THINGS THAT MAY MEAN NOTHING: The Redskins have out-scored their opponents in every period (cumulative) except for the 4th quarter. 79-73 in quarter 1, 118-104 in quarter 2, 74-43 in quarter 3. In the fourth quarter, they are down 130-107. Just some coincidental number matching. For the year, they have scored 381 points and allowed 350 points. They've allowed an average of 381 yards per game, and during the win streak (as noted above) they've allowed an average of 351 yards per game. If only that meant anything to anybody.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO WEAR? The Redskins should probably wear burgundy jerseys in Philadelphia. They're (6-3) this year, as opposed to (2-3) in white jerseys. They are (6-6) in gold pants. They are (2-0) in white pants. I have to think that Bruce Allen and Brad Berlin (head equipment manager) are WELL AWARE of this. If I'm a betting man, and I am not, the numbers tell me the Redskins will be in white pants and burgundy jerseys.