The stakes couldn't be higher for Saturday's showdown between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, airing exclusively on NFL Network.
The Redskins will clinch the NFC East with the victory. A loss, however, would leave both teams at 7-8 while also allowing the 6-8 New York Giants a chance to get back in the race with a victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night.
- Kirk Cousins has been among the league's most effective quarterbacks since Jackson's Week 9 return from a hamstring injury, generating a 71.0 completion percentage, 8.82 yards per attempt and a 112.4 passer rating. With star tight end Jordan Reed working the underneath routes, Jackson has been taking the top off of defenses with touchdowns of 28, 56, 63 and 77 yards over that span. He has an attractive matchup against a banged-up Eagles secondary that could be without top cornerback Byron Maxwell, who is battling a sprained AC joint in his shoulder.
"Can't get any better than going back to Philly, Saturday night football," Jackson said earlier this week. "Let's get it!"
- The crowded backfield has generated headlines in Philadelphia all season, as free-agent bust DeMarco Murray struggled out of the gate and ultimately lost snaps to Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Averaging a paltry 3.4 yards per carry compared to 3.8 for Sproles and 5.3 for Mathews, Murray was an afterthought in last week's game, garnering a season-low two carries. Although Murray reportedly made waves in the locker room after the blowout loss to the Cardinals, he's playing the role of the good soldier this week.
"At the end of the day, we are in a position to make the playoffs," Murray said. "I think that is where a lot of people's focuses are. I'm not worried about how many plays I am getting. Whenever I get in, whenever I get an opportunity, I have to make the most of it."
It will be interesting to see if one of the team's highest-paid players watches from the sideline in the biggest game of the year.
- This matchup features Pro Bowl snubs in both secondaries. Malcolm Jenkins has a strong claim as the best all-around safety in football this season, joining up with free-agent acquisition Walter Thurmond to comprise a fine tandem at the back end of Philadelphia's defense. Second-year cornerback Bashaud Breeland is enjoying a breakout season in Washington, making plays against top receivers and showing physicality in the run game. He's also shown a nose for the ball with two forced fumbles, a pair of fumble recoveries and 16 passes defensed. It's about time the Redskins developed a star in their annual porous defensive backfield.
- A withering Redskins ground attack averaging just 3.7 yards per carry could get a boost with Eagles nose tackle Bennie Logan expected to miss the game with a calf injury. Logan has been one of the most effective run-stuffers in the league this season. The Eagles will have to lean even harder on game-wrecking defensive end Fletcher Cox to stop Washington's backfield trio of Matt Jones, Alfred Morris and Chris Thompson.