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Keeping an Eye on the Other Beasts in the East

While the Cowboys visit the Packers, the other two Beasts that play this week will take on AFC West opponents. The Redskins will host the 6-2 Broncos. Meanwhile, the Eagles will face a Chargers team that just dropped the Giants for their fourth consecutive loss. The Giants are on a bye this week and are looking to regroup.

If Dallas can manage to defeat Green Bay, Philadelphia could ill-afford to drop to 5-4. Both teams play the late game tomorrow. After this week, they both have favorable matchups over the next two weeks: Dallas has two home games against Washington and then Oakland, while Philly will fly to Chicago and then return home to face Washington.

Should Washington lose to Denver tomorrow, its playoff hopes will more than likely be over.

More Beasts in the East after the jump.

 

Washington Redskins (2-6)

Last game: 17-31 Loss @ Atlanta

Next up: Home vs. Denver

Because of a concussion that Clinton Portis suffered last week, Ladell Betts will get the start against the Broncos. Betts, though, has been limited in practice by a foot sprain.

"It feels . . . it's a little sore when I was in there," Betts said. "I tried not to do anything too drastic because I didn't want to have any setbacks, but I was able to move around and I actually ran a couple of plays today, so that's a good start for me. I think I'll be able to go Sunday."

In last week's 31-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Betts provided a spark in the running game rarely seen in the Redskins' past 16 games.

The 'Skins lost S Chris Horton for the season.

Starting strong safety Chris Horton underwent surgery on an injured toe on Wednesday and he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Reed Doughty will take his place as the starter.

Champ Bailey looks forward to playing against his old team.

On Sunday, when the Broncos play at the Washington Redskins, Bailey will revisit his former life for the first time since the megatrade 5 1/2 years ago that ended with Bailey (and a second-round draft pick) here and star running back Clinton Portis in Washington.

"It seems like a long time ago, honestly," Bailey said this week. "I've spent more time here than I spent there."

[snip]

Yet in all that time, Bailey has never suited up against the Redskins, the team that drafted him at No. 7 overall in 1999. The one time the two teams have played since, in 2005 in Denver, Bailey sat out with a hamstring injury.

Brian Dawkins knows all about playing the Redskins.

"I just know what to expect when I play these teams I have played them so long," he said. "I know this is going to be a ... every time that I have played the Redskins, it has been a physical battle. I come out of the game a lot sorer, if that is a word, because of those big bodies that they have.

"They pound [Clinton] Portis at you [and Ladell] Betts at you; take shots up top with these quick receivers they have. This has just been something that has been bred in me to anticipate certain things when I play the Redskins."

Lately, Denver has been giving up a ton of yardage in the second half.

For the first six games, the Broncos surpassed almost all expectations with how good they were on defense. The past two weeks, the stunner has been how quickly that magic disappeared. Denver has allowed 149 rushing yards per game after not allowing 100 to any of its first six opponents.

The Broncos allowed 321 total yards in the second half against Pittsburgh. They hadn't allowed more than 315 over an entire game before playing the Steelers.

Here's the NFL Game Center for the Broncos at Redskins.

 

New York Giants (5-4)

Last game: 20-21 Home Loss vs. San Diego

Next up: Bye

Yes, the Giants have lost four in a row, but they will be counting on a late season surge upon their return.

So is it time to put a fork in the Giants (5-4) with seven games remaining after their bye week? Not yet. Sure, the path to the playoffs is going to be hard with five of the remaining seven games coming against teams at least two games over .500, including three with division leaders and one against the Eagles, who crushed the Giants a couple of weeks ago.

What’s important to remember is that coach Tom Coughlin’s teams usually play their best when everybody has written them off.

Don Banks agrees that the Giants are not to be counted out. Tom Coughlin has dug his team out of this hole before and is looking to do it again.

None of it works right now, and this week, head coach Tom Coughlin, with his team's downward spiral paused but not stopped by its bye, came out and attempted to draw the bull's-eye on his own back. It's too soon to know if the attempt at deflection was successful, but it was admirable and set a nice example in terms of accountability.

"I thought it was perfectly clear, but let me express it so no longer does anyone else receive any type of blame,'' Coughlin said on Monday. "Let me start out by saying that I'm responsible for all of the decisions that are made with our football team. "The [red] zone decisions are my responsibility. They are nobody else's. No one else made a mistake. The quarterback did not make a mistake. The decision was mine.''

The Big Blue View rounds up the news out of New York. Most notably is their health watch: CB Aaron Ross and RB Danny Ware could make their return after the bye.

A healthy Ross should make a huge difference in their secondary.

"He's worked his tail off in rehab," said secondary coach Peter Giunta. "We're looking forward to having him back."

Upon his return, Ross will remain at cornerback. There has been some speculation that the Giants might move one of their corners - possibly Terrell Thomas - to safety once Ross returns to help out that beleaguered unit.

"We'll see," Tom Coughlin said. "I think that we do have to see Aaron practice a few days in a row before we make any kind of decisions."

LB Gerris Wilkinson was placed on IR this week.

Wilkinson leads the Giants in special teams tackles with 12 (seven solo), but will miss the rest of the season after suffering the injury in Sunday's loss to San Diego.

[snip]

To fill Wilkinson's roster spot, the Giants signed cornerback D.J. Johnson off Denver's practice squad. He was signed as a rookie free agent out of Jackson State in April but waived in September, then signed to the Broncos' practice squad two days later.

Lawrence Taylor was arrested.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-3)

Last game: 16-20 Home Loss vs. Dallas

Next up: @ San Diego

Matt Mosely thinks that Brian Westbrook could be heavily involved in the offense tomorrow.

I think the Eagles will ride Brian Westbrook in this game. Yes, I know this is a different team with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, but the Chargers did a nice job taking away the deep ball against the Giants. Westbrook appears to be healthy heading into this game, and I think he could give the Chargers' linebackers trouble in space.

While Westbrook is listed as probable, OT Jason Peters is questionable. Here are some other injured Eagles:

Linebacker Akeem Jordan (knee) was ruled out of Sunday's game, while linebacker Chris Gocong (hamstring), who sat out last week, is listed as probable. Defensive end Victor Abiamiri (knee) and safety Quintin Demps (ankle) are both questionable.

The Eagles' LBs are shuffling around again this week.

Starting weakside linebacker Akeem Jordan missed his second straight day of practice Thursday with a hyperextended knee and bone bruise and is unlikely to play Sunday. As a result, McDermott has decided to do some shuffling.

Will Witherspoon, who started the last two games at middle linebacker, will take Jordan's spot. Strongside linebacker Chris Gocong, who missed last week's loss to Dallas with a strained quadriceps and hamstring, will move into the middle. Rookie Moise Fokou, who replaced Gocong against the Cowboys, will stay there.

In passing situations, Witherspoon will be joined by Tracy White in the nickel defense.

CB Joselio Hanson has been suspended for four games for testing positive for a banned substance.

From also having lost CB/KR Ellis Hobbs for the season because of a neck injury he suffered against the Cowboys, the Eagles' secondary is thinning out.

In addition, the Eagles made a number of moves Wednesday, including signing cornerback to Ramzee Robinson and promoting cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu to the 53-man roster.

They also signed cornerback Stoney Woodson to the practice squad.

Andy Reid will be playing a game of offensive wits against Norv Turner.

The Eagles know Norv Turner from his days in Washington. Reid knows how Turner thinks, and he knows how Turner is going to try to attack the Eagles defense. Reid has to win this battle on the sidelines. As much as an NFL game is players vs. players, it is also coaches vs. coaches. The teams that make the adjustments and recognize opportunities to make plays often win games.

So this one is Reid vs. Turner. And it's Mornhinweg against Ron Rivera, the San Diego defensive coordinator. The Eagles must start fast, play physical, emotional football and execute the game plan with a minimum of errors.

Could the Bills be a fit for Michael Vick in '10?

Here's the NNFL Game Center for Philly @ San Diego.