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Keeping an Eye on the Other Beasts in the East

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Three losses in the division was more than what the Cowboys could hope for as they rested up during their bye week. While the Eagles and Redskins struggled against arguably less-talented teams in the Raiders and Chiefs, the Saints put a sound thrashing on the Giants. Now, control of the NFC looks to go through the Big Easy rather than the Big Apple.

On Monday Night Football this week, somebody's heart may break. With the Eagles beginning their three-game run through the division this week (Week 8 vs. Giants, Week 9 vs. Cowboys), they can not afford a loss. The Redskins will be even more desperate. Dropping a second game in the division would dig a large hole, and taking a 2-5 record into their bye week could be cause for implosion. Their only solace is that they are playing at home. If there is any game that could save their season, this is it.

More Beasts in the East after the jump.


Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)

Last game: 9-13 Loss @ Oakland

Next up: @ Washington (2-4)

How in the world did the Eagles lose to the Raiders? Not running the ball was one reason.

There were several questionable coaching decisions against the Raiders, mainly the play calling. As usual, the Eagles relied heavily on their passing attack. But the offensive line had trouble protecting Donovan McNabb, especially after left tackle Jason Peters went down with a knee injury. McNabb was sacked six times and got hurried on numerous throws. He finished just 22 of 46 for 269 yards.

Meanwhile, Brian Westbrook had success running the ball the few chances he had. Westbrook rushed for 50 yards on only six carries. Perhaps the Eagles could've sustained longer drives if they'd just kept the ball on the ground instead of passing, passing and passing some more.

"I thought that we could have run a little bit more," Reid said. "We did what we thought would help us win the game, but looking back on it, we probably could have run the ball more."

The final line: 66 plays, 54 passes, 12 runs, excluding two scrambles by McNabb that really were pass plays. That's an 82:18 pass-run ratio in a game that was close the whole way.

The loss could provide the team the focus it needs to win on the road this week.

"I felt embarrassed," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "When you get embarrassed, you don't want to get embarrassed again, so you are going to do whatever it takes to erase that and make sure that you turn a negative into a positive."

The Eagles should be naturally more fired up to face the Redskins, a familiar division rival. It's a short road trip, and thousands of Philadelphia fans always find ways to get tickets. Plus, no one wants to look bad on Monday night, when the rest of the league is watching.

"You can go against the worst team in the league," running back Brian Westbrook said. "But if you don't go out there and execute your game plan, and if you have errors and sacks and turnovers and things like that, you can lose a game."

A focused Eagles team would not be good news for the Redskins.

Here is a list of 10 reasons why there is "plenty of drama" associated with the Eagles. The one below, is eye-catching.

2. Brian Westbrook is publicly unhappy with his role on the Eagles, in what may be his last season in Philadelphia.

Omar Gaither is another LB the Eagles have lost for the season.

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Omar Gaither will have surgery on his left foot and is ""most likely"" to miss the rest of the season, head coach Andy Reid said on Thursday. Gaither, 25, suffered the injury during Sunday's 13-9 loss to the Oakland Raiders and will be replaced as a starter by Will Witherspoon for Monday's game away to the Washington Redskins.

Linebacker Witherspoon was acquired by the Eagles from the St. Louis Rams on Tuesday.

This is the super long injury report for the game between these two beasts.

Here is the NFL Game Center: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins.

Washington Redskins (2-4)

Last game: 6-14 Home Loss vs. Kansas City

Next up: Home vs. Philadelphia (3-2)

Executive VP, Vinny Cerrato, announced that Jim Zorn will stay put.

At the opening of his Friday morning radio show on ESPN 980, Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins’ executive vice president for football operations, stated unequivocally that Zorn "is the head coach of the Washington Redskins and will be the for the rest of this season and hopefully into the future."

Cerrato did not sugarcoat the issues facing this 2-4 team as it goes into a Monday night game at home against the Philadelphia Eagles. The offense, he said, "is regressing," fans are angry and owner Daniel M. Snyder "talks constantly about how disappointed he is for the fans."

Sherman Lewis will be calling the plays for the Redskins' offense. This may be detrimental to the Eagles' defense. Recently, the former has had more success than the latter in this beastly contest.

Indeed, last season the Birds managed to lose to Washington twice, 23-17 at home and 10-3 at the Redskins, with Clinton Portis running 29 times for 145 yards in the first meeting. The second meeting, the Eagles held Portis to 70 yards on 22 carries, but he scored the game's only touchdown.

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell seems to beat only the Eagles; he is 3-2 in five starts against them since 2006, 3-1 the past two seasons.

Washington's overall record since 2006 is 24-30.

With a struggling offense, the Redskins will have to play lights-out defense to win this one.

Redskins coaches are looking closely at the film of last week’s Philadelphia-Oakland game. The Raiders handcuffed the Eagles offense and held on for a 13-9 win.

"You have to change up some things defensively [against the Eagles]," Redskins secondary-cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray said. "I thought the Oakland Raiders did an excellent job of keeping them off balance and not just going out playing what they call ‘old Raider football,’ straight man to man.

"They mixed up some Cover 2, some zone, and even a little cover seven. They did a lot and they kept them off balance."

The confusion, as well as breakdowns along the offensive line, allowed the Raiders to sack McNabb six times. That’s a source of hope for the Redskins.

OT Chris Samuels may be considering retirement.

"I will continue to seek medical advice. I hope to see where I am physically over the next couple months," Samuels said. "At this time, I have not made a decision, but I love playing for the Redskins and hope to be back."

Punter, Hunter Smith, is set for his return on Monday.

Here's the pregame video for the Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins.

New York Giants (5-1)

Last game: 27-48 Loss @ New Orleans

Next up: Home vs. Arizona (3-2)

Just because the Giants lost last week does not mean Kurt Warner and the Cardinals will take them lightly.

The Cardinals aren't attaching much significance to the Giants' loss to the undefeated Saints last week, other than they know it will motivate the home team.

"A lot of people look at the score and thought, 'Man, New Orleans killed them,' " Warner said. "I go and watch the film and they (the Giants) were in position to make a lot of plays. I think it is a little bit deceiving."

An argument could be made that the Giants' record is a bit deceiving, too. Of their first five opponents, only Dallas (3-2) has a winning record. The other four — the Redskins, Buccaneers, Chiefs and Raiders — are a combined 5-19. Starting last week, the schedule became tougher, and after Arizona, the Giants play the Eagles (3-2), Chargers (2-3), Falcons (4-1) and the Broncos (6-0).

Should the Giants run the ball, or get into a shootout?

Defensively, the Cardinals are first in the league in stopping the run, giving up only 59.6 yards a game and 2.8 yards a carry. But they are 31st against the pass (265.2-yard average), meaning this could be a game in which points are scored in bunches. These two teams combined for 66 points last year in the Giants' 37-29 victory in Arizona.

"We have played shootout games; that is not the problem," Manning said. "We have to avoid getting down too much too early. Offensively, we have to score and hold the ball, be better on third downs, keep our defense off the field and move the ball. It is just a matter of us continuing to get our offense to do good things and score when we have opportunities."

Of course, the Giants will take a win any way they can get it. What's most important is not run vs. pass, but whether they can repeat their recent past and rebound from a poor outing with a victory.

Matt Mosely thinks the Giants should blitz Warner, bracket Fitzgerald.

I think Bill Sheridan is going to bring just about everyone in an attempt to get some hits on Kurt Warner. Brees didn't have to worry about a pass-rush. You can't give Warner time to drop back and play catch with Larry Fitzgerald. In fact, I would have Fitzgerald bracketed at all times. The Cards aren't going to run the ball. Try to take Fitzgerald out of the game. That's easier said than done, but I can see the Giants having a big bounce-back game here. But if you let Warner have too much time, he'll treat the Giants like Brees did -- and it wasn't pretty.

Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin is questionable with an ankle injury.

Here's the series history between the two teams.

The Giants lead the regular season series, 79-41-2. This will be the 123rd regular season meeting between the two franchises, the third most-played series on the Giants all-time list. The Giants have won six of the last eight regular season meetings, including thr last three games played in Giants Stadium. In Week 12 of the 2008 regular season, the Giants traveled to Arizona and defeated the Cardinals, 37-29.

The Giants and Cardinals have never met in the postseason.

Here is the preview video for the Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants.