NFC East: Ken Dorsey
Don't underestimate what the Eagles did Monday night against the Browns. They've had a penchant for allowing inferior teams to stay in games with them -- or even tie them. But in a 30-10 victory, the Eagles imposed their will on the Browns from the start.
They exposed backup quarterback Ken Dorsey early and were able to keep the ball for nearly 38 minutes. Last week, Andy Reid depended on the running game to beat the Giants. But on Monday, he turned Donovan McNabb loose, and the quarterback responded with a superb effort. He was 26 of 35 for 290 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. McNabb has thrown seven touchdowns and only the one interception in the three games since he was benched against the Ravens.
After Monday's game, he told ESPN once again that he didn't like being the "scapegoat" three weeks ago, but you can't argue with the results following the benching. Against a pretty good secondary, McNabb was able to fit the ball into some very tight spots. He completed passes to nine different players and Jason Avant had 101 yards receiving. McNabb waited for the Browns to line up in Cover 3 and then he started working the cornerbacks over.
Westbrook only had 16 carries for 53 yards -- and that may have been by design. Coming off a 33-carry game, Reid didn't want to push Westbrook. With the Eagles up 17-3 at halftime, the Browns didn't have a legitimate shot at a comeback.
The Browns have no running game and their passing game relies too heavily on Braylon Edwards. In the past, the Eagles have messed around against bad teams. On Monday, they scored on five of their first seven drives and didn't have to punt until the game had already been decided. If Philadelphia can get past a fading Redskins team at FedEx Field on Sunday, they'll be 9-5-1 heading into the final game of the season against the Cowboys.
We often complain about teams tanking games at the end of the season in order to avoid injuries. It would be nice to see the Cowboys and the Eagles playing for a single playoff spot.
On defense, linebacker Stewart Bradley had a big game with six tackles and a key interception and Asante Samuel had an interception and his first touchdown as an Eagle. Trent Cole and Quintin Demps each had sacks, but the Eagles' defense didn't spend much time on the field.
The Browns were 3 of 12 on third downs and were held to 196 total yards. It was a dominating performance for the Eagles. Now, it's time to focus on the Redskins.
Philly Daily News NFL columnist Paul Domowitch always has a nice preview on the Eagletarian blog. I've seen enough Browns football this season to know they can be decent on defense at times. If there's a silver lining to the Browns' 4-9 record, it's that the secondary has played really well. The Browns are second in the league in causing turnovers -- and the New York Giants can attest to that.
For whatever reason, the Browns have become the darlings of "Monday Night Football" and they're 2-0 on that night in 2008.
Domowitch also makes another great point: Eagles kicker David Akers has had three kicks blocked this season, two of which have been brought back for touchdowns. Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rogers is one of the best in the league at blocking kicks. In fact, he's the league's active leader with 12 during his career.
I think the Eagles will pull this thing out, but it won't be easy. The Ken Dorsey factor is what makes me feel good about the Eagles' chances.