The key to this game will come with how the Redskins defense can handle Vick's running ability. The Washington secondary--Carlos Rodgers and DeAngelo Hall, along with strong safety LaRon Landry, who's probably the best bet to shadow Vick, aren't known for their "stay-at-home" discipline. Athletic freelancing can get you on Sports Center, but against a mobile quarterback it can also result in huge daylight. Washington needs to stay at home and keep Vick in the pocket. If that happens, the Eagle running game with LeSean McCoy hasn't impressed and the Philly offense can bog down.
There's still the problem of Washington getting points themselves and the controversy over McNabb obscures the real problem, which is how little support there is for him in the offense. Rookie tackle Trent Williams has to block Trent Cole and give McNabb some time, and then they'll have to get a consistent running game with Ryan Torain. I don't see it happening tonight and think the Eagles will win an ugly 23-10 game.
The stakes for tonight's game have been raised by the other game in the NFC East yesterday, with Dallas shocking New York 33-20. The Giants' turnover problem finally caught up to them. They gave it up three times, two of them interceptions by Eli Manning, one of them that was returned the length of the field for a touchdown. Dallas made big plays in the passing game, with Jon Kitna turning 13 completions into 327 yards. The result is that New York is now 6-3, and Philadelphia can pull into a tie for first with a win. Washington could move within one game and set off a three-way race.
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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.