The Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Washington Redskins today at 1 p.m. at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, and this may be the turning point in a season that has been disappointing after three games. Coming into the divisional showdown with a 1-2 record, Chip Kelly's Eagles cannot afford to go 1-3. While this would not mathematically end the Eagles' season, starting a year 1-3 is extremely difficult to come back from.
According to Bleeding Green Nation, the Eagles started out 1-3 in the 2013 season, but were still able to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, for Chip Kelly and the Eagles, they are in a much more difficult situation for 2015. All three of the 2013 losses came to out-of-conference teams in the AFC. While a loss is never a good thing, if you are going to lose a game in the NFL, you want it to come from a team that is not in your conference. The Eagles are currently 0-2 in the NFC conference and 0-1 in the NFC East division. A loss to the Redskins would not only make them 1-3, but would give them an 0-3 conference record and an 0-2 division record.
Division and conference records are so important because they are among the first few things that are taken into consideration for playoff tiebreakers, according to NFL.com. While the Dallas Cowboys have been decimated with injuries so far, they have a 2-1 overall record and are 2-0 in the NFC East. If the Cowboys can play average football until quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant return, these early losses for the Eagles are going to come back to haunt them, since Dallas is setting themselves up nicely with early season success.
The good news for the Eagles is that the NFC East is looking weaker than ever. The Redskins and Giants both sit at 1-2, and the Cowboys still face an uphill battle with their injuries. It is entirely possible that the division winner may have only eight or nine wins. While tiebreakers did not come into play last year for the NFC East, since the Cowboys won it with a 12-4 record, the Eagles actually would not even have qualified for a wildcard berth if they finished with 11 wins because of their poor conference record.
According to most sports books, the Philadelphia Eagles are currently three point favorites over the Washington Redskins for today's game. Since this game is in Washington, that means oddsmakers believe the Eagles are six points better on a neutral field, and nine points better if the game was in Philadelphia. In other words, the Eagles should win this game. The Redskins will be without star wide receiver Desean Jackson again, and quarterback Kirk Cousins is anything but reliable.
The Eagles are not without their own questions, though. Quarterback Sam Bradford has been a huge disappointment so far. His three touchdown passes, four interceptions, and 72.5 quarterback rating rank towards the bottom of the league. He also has looked uncomfortable, and seems hesitant to throw the ball down the field. For an offense that was expected to be one of the most explosive in the league, Bradford has led them to a mere 58 points so far. This is five less than the Eagles have given up, which is a recipe for disaster.
While Bradford has not played well, his offensive line and running game are not helping. After cutting Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans, the Eagles have struggled to block this year. After two games, prized free agent running back Demarco Murray has 11 yards on 21 carries. Ryan Mathews appeared to get it together in the third game in Murray's absence, as he went for 108 yards on 24 carries. It appears as though the Eagles will continue to utilize a three man running back committee featuring Murray, Mathews, and Darren Sproles, according to Chip Kelly, as reported in the Daily Local.
"No. DeMarco fits into what we're doing and Ryan fits into what we're doing and so does (Darren) Sproles. So I hope that, God willing and the pope can bless us again, all three of them will be available to us on Sunday against the Redskins."However they do it, the Philadelphia Eagles must find a way to beat the Washington Redskins today. A loss would not only devastate Eagles fans, but it could potentially put coach Chip Kelly on the hot seat.
[Images via Al Bello, Alex Goodlett, and Rich Schultz / Getty Images]