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NFL Week 16 Preview: Washington look to lock up NFC East

Tonight's game could decide the NFC East. Washington are currently one game ahead of both the Eagles and the Giants, and due to the way the


Tonight’s game could decide the NFC East. Washington are currently one game ahead of both the Eagles and the Giants, and due to the way the various tiebreakers fall, a win in Philadelphia will secure them the divisional crown. So who will emerge at the top of the pile this week?   Washington may have found their quarterback of the future in Kirk Cousins. RG3’s former backup leads all full time starter in completion percentage and has thrown twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. But Cousins, like the rest of the team, has struggled on the road.   Philadelphia somehow found a way to beat both the Patriots and the Bills in recent weeks, but aren’t as much of a complete team as the Redskins. Sam Bradford has been playing better, but friction between Chip Kelly and DeMarco Murray is causing problems.  

Three Keys to the Game

  1. Can Kirk Cousins find some form on the road?

Cousins has been fairly dominant at home this season. Last week he torched Buffalo by completing 22 of his 28 passes for 319 yards, four touchdowns without an interception as well as a rushing touchdown. In his last road game? A decent outing against the Chicago Bears with 300 yards and both a touchdown and an interception. Cousins’ play has been better wherever he has played in recent weeks, and could give him an edge over Bradford.  

  1. Can Philadelphia stop Washington’s offense?

Cousins’ improved play can partly be attributed to the emergence of tight end Jordan Reed and the return of receiver DeSean Jackson. Reed is a potent redzone weapon while Jackson is a true deep threat. Jackson will be keen to have a good performance against his former team after being ousted by Chip Kelly before the 2014 season. Against the Bills, Reed and Jackson combined for 237 yards and three touchdowns. Washington’s backfield duo of Alfred Morris and Matt Jones have also been a good complement to the passing game recently. They combined for 112 yards against Buffalo, and have averaged 89 yards per game over the past four weeks. Philly’s defense faces a tough test to shut down Washington’s offense on Boxing Day.  

  1. Washington’s defense

The Redskins may have allowed 452 net yards to the Bills last week, but most of that came in garbage time; Washington held a 28-3 lead midway through the third quarter. The Redskins sacked Tyrod Taylor five times and forced a fumble in a dominant display against what has been a good offense over the past few weeks. If they can continue that form against a flawed Philadelphia offense, the Redskins have a great chance to take this game.  

Matchup to watch

Philadelphia backfield vs Will Compton, Perry Riley Jr. & Dashon Goldson

The Eagles have averaged 96.5 rushing yards over the past four weeks, but could manage a total of just 74 against Arizona last week. In that time frame, Philly has only scored one rushing touchdown. For an offense built around the run game, that isn’t a good sign. Kelly will have to manufacture better production than that against an interior defensive core comprised of Will Compton and Perry Riley Jr., supplemented Dashon Goldson coming down into the box. That defensive interior has allowed the fifth most rushing yards this year, so Kelly should have no excuses.  

Prediction

Washington Redskins

Washington simply looks better across the board right now, and their confidence will be sky-high after finally winning consecutive games thanks to last week’s win over Buffalo. Kirk Cousins can perform well on the road, and has some great weapons around him. Expect a huge game from DeSean Jackson against his former team.  

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NFL Week 16 Preview: Washington look to lock up NFC East

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