ASHBURN, Va. -- Five questions facing the Washington Redskins as they prepare for Saturday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field:
Can the Redskins close it out?
Absolutely. Look at the two teams: One is coming off a blowout loss at home and in the midst of a season that has been disappointing and full of tension. The other is enjoying its status as a contender, even if they are only 7-7. It’s safe to say the Redskins have to feel better about what they’ve done this season and the direction they’re headed than the Eagles. Philly also is dealing with injuries to key players defensively (lineman Bennie Logan among them). Yes, the Eagles remain alive in the NFC East race and with two more wins can reach the postseason. But it’s hard to imagine they’re in the same mental state of mind as the Redskins. It’s shocking to think that the Redskins could end up winning the division before the final game of the season. Welcome to the NFC East; welcome to watching a team that has overachieved.
Will they handle the emotion?
The Redskins have a lot of young players, but they’re a mature bunch, and it helps having strong veteran leaders who have played in big games. So while this is the biggest December game for Washington since the end of 2012, it’s not the biggest game played by guys such as Ricky Jean Francois, Terrance Knighton and a handful of others. There are also a handful of players left over from 2012 who know how to handle the emotions of a big game. Playing on the road will be tough, but it can also be galvanizing. This is a tight team whose confidence is growing.
How pumped will DeSean Jackson be for this game?
The chance to eliminate his former team -- and put his current one in the postseason? My guess is he’ll be more than slightly excited for this opportunity. The Eagles have a banged-up secondary -- and that was their weakness anyway. Jackson has been on a tear lately, averaging 21.38 yards per reception in the last four games. The Redskins have continued to see him progress each week since returning from his hamstring injury, just in time to face his old team. In two games against the Eagles, Jackson has caught nine passes for 243 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles have allowed 17 passes for 30 or more yards, tied for 11th fewest in the NFL. That success will be tested Saturday.
Can Kirk Cousins play well on the road?
He played a mostly solid game against Chicago two weeks ago, though there was one bad play (missed read/defender) and one bad decision that turned fortunate (the pass he heaved to Jordan Reed that was tipped and caught by Matt Jones). But he’s also playing defenses lately that just aren’t as good as what he faced throughout some of the early road games. And he’s playing better in general of late, not just at home. Also, as mentioned above, the Eagles’ defense has injury question marks, so the secondary could be vulnerable.
Who will be available for the Redskins?
Still a little early to know the health of a few players, notably right tackle Morgan Moses and safety Dashon Goldson. Moses left the Bills game early in the second half with a sprained ankle. He was in uniform with his helmet on for practice Wednesday but was not doing anything during the portion of practice open to the media. Goldson, who fractured a rib, didn’t have a jersey or a helmet on and didn’t practice. If Moses can’t play, Ty Nsekhe would start, and if Goldson can’t go then the Redskins would use Kyshoen Jarrett and DeAngelo Hall at safety.