Andy Reid gets to look at all of his QBs – past, present and future – this Sunday in Philadelphia when Donovan McNabb returns with the Redskins to face Michael Vick and the Eagles.
It’s Donovan McNabb against Michael Vick when the Philadelphia Eagles host the Washington Redskins in the most highly anticipated football matchup of Week 4 on Sunday afternoon (4:15 p.m. ET, FOX).
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At least that’s what the mainstream media would like us to believe. Any smart bettor shouldn’t buy what they’re selling, however. This is a game between the Eagles (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) and Redskins (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS), and therein lies the key to handicapping Sunday’s affair at Lincoln Financial Field.
NFL oddsmakers opened Philadelphia as 6½-point favorites, and that was the consensus number as of press time. The Eagles were available on the NFL betting odds board giving six points to the ‘Skins at some select shops, while the total was set at 43.
Looking at the numbers and last week’s performances from both teams, there’s little doubt Philly is the sharp wager at this price.
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The public thinks McNabb is going to bring some extra motivation in his return to the City of not-so Brotherly Love. I wouldn’t bank on it. Sure, McNabb wants to stick it to Andy Reid and the Eagles, but he has to have that type of intensity every week. It’s the NFL: You can’t turn it on and off.
Besides, McNabb relies heavily on his teammates, and that’s the problem for Washington backers. McNabb’s been solid to start the season, but he can’t run the ball, and he sure as hell can’t play defense.
Coming off their 30-16 loss at St. Louis (+4½) in which McNabb went a respectable 19-of-32 for 236 yards with a touchdown and an interception, the Redskins rank seventh in the league in passing (265.7 YPG).
That where the good news ends. Clinton Portis is a shell of his former self, and it shows. Washington is 28th in rushing (74.3 YPG).
I understand we’re only in Week 4, but the Redskins bring the NFL’s worst defense (423.7 YPG) into Lincoln Financial Field. Washington is especially struggling against the pass (325.7 YPG).
Really, the ‘Skins deserve to be 0-3 SU. Washington won its opener against Dallas only because of the Cowboys’ ineptitude. The Redskins then blew a 17-point second-half lead to lose in overtime to Houston before last week’s lackluster showing against the Rams.
Over on the other sideline, life is coming up roses for Reid and the Eagles.
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Let’s get this straight: Philadelphia traded McNabb, its franchise quarterback, within the NFC East to Washington. The Eagles then installed the unproven Kevin Kolb under center. Kolb then goes down in the first game of the season with a concussion, paving the way from Michael Vick to take over the reins.
It’s amazing how quickly things change in the NFL. Vick was in jail just last year, and was a third-stringer behind McNabb and Kolb just last season. Now Vick’s the starter and is playing as well as any QB in the league.
That said, it’s ridiculous Vick is being thrown around as an early MVP candidate. Vick has thrown for 750 yards with six passing TDs and a 110.2 passer rating in 2.5 games of action, but he’s racked up his numbers against the likes of Jacksonville, Detroit, and a Green Bay defense that had prepared for Kolb. Stay tuned to see if Vick really has his game back.
Vick went 17-of-31 for 291 yards with three scores through the air and another on the ground in Philly’s 28-5 over the Jaguars last week, but I was more impressed with the Eagles’ defense.
Philadelphia (-2) held Jacksonville to 184 yards offense on its home field, including only 54 passing yards. The Eagles’ pass rush sacked Jags QB David Garrard six times.
Following last season’s success against the pass, Philadelphia has picked up where it’s left off. Considering Washington’s entire offense centers around anything McNabb and Santana Moss can get going, that doesn’t bode well for the underdogs on Sunday.
For what it’s worth, the Eagles won both meetings last season, with the teams splitting matters against the spread. Washington covered as 9½-point pups in its 27-24 loss at Philadelphia last November.