Commentary

Salisbury: Eagles will get off to fast start

Updated: September 17, 2007, 5:30 PM ET
By Sean Salisbury | ESPN

Every Monday, ESPN football analyst Sean Salisbury provides his picks and keys to the game for ESPN PlayCaller. Want to put Sean's advice to work? Think you know better? Join now and let's see what you've got.

Predictions

Passing yards: Donovan McNabb
The Eagles love to pass the ball. Andy Reid has always loved to throw, Philly threw more than 30 times last week and will look to do the same thing this week. McNabb will be better than he was last week against the Packers' defense and he will see a lot of single coverage.

Touchdown passes: Donovan McNabb
Philadelphia loves to throw the ball in the red zone. The Eagles work to get one-on-one coverage with the tight end against a linebacker. They also like to throw the screen pass in the red zone.

Rushing yards: Clinton Portis
Because the Eages love to blitz, they will, at times, not have anyone at the second level to make the tackle. Look for Portis to have some big runs.

Rushing touchdown: Brian Westbrook
Westbrook, next to McNabb, is the most versatile player the Eagles have. Westbrook is possibly the most underrated player in the league and I expect him to get the ball in the red zone tonight. McNabb will lean on him this week as the Eagles did not have a great game last week, and you can't keep Westbrook out of the end zone for too many games.

Receiving yards: Santana Moss
There will be a ton of man coverage in this game and coach Joe Gibbs loves to go downfield, as does Jason Campbell. Moss is fast, quick and great at running after the catch, which means yardage.

Field goals: David Akers
Akers is a better kicker and is at home. Enough said.

First touchdown: Brian Westbrook
The Eagles, for all the reasons I stated above, will get Westbrook in the end zone. Look for the Eagles to take the ball into the end zone on their first possession, with Westbrook on the receiving end of a pass. After last week, the Eagles have something to prove.

First team touchdown: Philadelphia
First possession of the night will go to the Eagles as I anticipate them winning the coin toss. The Eagles will take advantage of that and march down the field and let Westbrook take it home. It may even be a passing touchdown.

Keys to the game for the Redskins

  1. Deal with the Eagles' blitz
    The Skins better be able to decipher where the blitz is coming from, because Jim Johnson loves to pressure the quarterback with blitz packages.

  2. Run the ball 40-plus times
    Between Ladell Betts and Portis, 40-plus carries for the Skins means they are controlling the game and the line of scrimmage.

  3. Punish wide receivers
    Safeties Laron Landry and Sean Taylor need to hit Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett every time they touch the ball, to send an early message.

  4. Contain Westbrook
    For the Redskins to win, they must keep Westbrook out of the game. If they can keep his catches and yards limited, they have a chance to win.

Keys to the game for the Eagles

  1. Start fast on offense
    Coming of a road loss, the home crowd will be looking for the Eagles to come out fast. If the Eagles do as I anticipate and respond to the crowd, they will get that crucial first score. Disguise blitzes
    Jason Campbell is a young quarterback and if the Eagles can disguise those blitzes, they can keep Campbell off his game and make it a long night for the Redskins.

  2. Make Redskins one-dimensional
    If that dimension is running the whole night, then so be it. You can't let Santana Moss catch and run for 100 yards and have Clinton Portis run for 100 yards as well. If they're a one-dimensional team, the Redskins can't win.

  3. Win on special teams
    Last week the Eagles gaffed it on the road against Green Bay. They can't let that happen. They must find a way to change field position with their special teams. They can't allow a blocked punt or a returned kick. Nothing can change the game quicker than a big play on special teams.

Sean Salisbury is a NFL analyst for ESPN