2012 NFL Week 16 Breakdown: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins

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Back in 1998, in and around the Capitol Beltway, the big knock-knock joke used to get under a Redskins fan's, well, skin, went something like this:

Knock knock.

Who’s there?


Owen who?


This would result in the joke-teller laughing and pointing a finger at the Redskins fan, reminding him or her of the team’s horrible record. RFK Stadium filled with paper bag-wearing fans, courtesy of the local grocery store (yes, they had special bags printed for the occasion). Even Hoggettes stopped their infamous cross-dressing for the games.

Twelve years later, teams have placed a ban on bags over the head, citing everything from stadium safety rules to masks not being permitted. This of course only goes for the home team, as on November 16, frustrated Eagles fans were allowed into FedEx field, bags on heads. Today in Philly, a very different Redskins team will take the field to what should be a cacophony of Philadelphia-style boos, directed at the visitors and home team.

Redskin QB Robert Griffin III is probably going to start, but even if he doesn’t, a very capable Kirk Cousins is there to take up any slack. The top rushing team in the NFL is blowing everyone else out, running for 165 ypg. The Eagles recently beat up on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they are 1-9 in their last ten games. The Redskins rule the roost in the NFC East and could actually clinch today with a Giants (and a couple other teams’) losses. Could Washington be headed to the Promised Land?

They have to win in Philly first. That may be a taller order than it looks. The Eagles’ defensive line has become electrified since defensive coach Jim Washburn left town. Trent Cole has 8 tackles and 1-1/2 sacks in his last three games, and fellow linemen Brandon Graham and Cullen Jenkins have combined for 19 tackles and six sacks in the same span. With this deadly tandem in Griffin’s face all day, he’s not going to have the leisure of settling in his pocket for too long. And if he runs? The Eagles should be able to corral him there, too.

Eagles RB DeSean McCoy should be back for this game (he’s been out with a concussion since the last time the Eagles met the Redskins), and between him and rookie runner Bryce Brown, they look to pound out some yards on the ground. QB Nick Foles will have to show the same patience he has in his last two games.

Finally, there’s the Pride Thing. In what could be coach Andy Reid’s last game at home, he could go out with a bang. On the Eagles website, Jenkins posted, “What do [we] have left to play for? Playing the Redskins and the Giants in the last two, there’s plenty to play for there.”

At the risk of proving everyone right about my insanity (after all, it was Einstein who said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”), I think the Eagles will shock an under-prepared, overconfident Redskins team.