McNabb Goes for McSweep of Philly

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK
 
DONOVAN MCNABB HOPES TO MAKE IT 2-0 AGAINST HIS FORMER PHILLY TEAMMATES

A little over a month ago, Donovan McNabb and his new team...the Washington Redskins...scored a physical road victory over his old team...the Philadelphia Eagles. And, he pulled the feat off in Philadelphia.

At the time, it looked like Washington had gotten the better end of the deal. They were suddenly a force in the NFC East after being an also-ran the past few seasons. The Eagles were dealing with uncertainty at quarterback, with Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick alternating moments of sharpness with untimely injuries. Maybe the Eagles moved a year to soon. Maybe McNabb would make them regret giving up on him when he still has so much gas left in the tank.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A MONTH MAKES!

Since then, the Eagles have caught fire and surged into the playoff race by playing their best ball of the season. Washington has struggled despite playing a relatively weak schedule, and even saw head coach Mike Shanahan BENCH McNabb late in a close game at Detroit. The reasons given for the move have been varied...but it was clear that McNabb wasn't playing well. It really didn't matter if it was because of his hamstrings, his conditioning, or his lack of understanding Shanahan's two-minute drill.

You can best see McNabb's issues this season with our DRIVE POINT data. You regulars know we chart points scored and allowed on drives of 60 yards or more for every team. The top teams are getting to 14 points per game on a consistent basis. Anything in the 10-12 range is acceptable if you have a great defense. Below that and the offense isn't doing its job.

Here are Washington's offensive DRIVE POINTS thus far this season:

3 vs. Dallas
21 vs. Houston (worst DP defense in the league)
6 at St. Louis
10 at Philadelphia
10 vs. Green Bay
14 vs. Indianapolis
7 at Chicago
3 at Detroit

The best game came against the horrible Houston defense who EVERYBODY scores on. In fact, that's about average for what Houston is allowing this season. The second best game came against an Indy defense that has struggled to shut people down on the road this season. We won't complain about that, because 14 DRIVE POINTS against a playoff team is obviously acceptable. The problem is...those are the only numbers greater than 10!

McNabb was benched late in the Detroit game...after failing to do much of anything against both the Lions and Bears in 118 of 120 minutes of game action. Shanahan didn't want to tell the media "McNabb has been lousy lately!" So, he made up some excuses that ended up sounding even worse because people tried to read between the lines.

Washington hasn't said they've regretted bringing McNabb by any means. But, they're not getting the production they expected. Philadelphia on the other hand, has to be happy with what's been going up on the scoreboard even with their quarterbacks battling some injuries.

Here are Philadelphia's offensive DRIVE POINTS thus far this season:

14 vs. Green Bay
28 at Detroit
14 at Jacksonville
9 vs. Washington
7 at San Francisco
14 vs. Atlanta
7 at Tennessee
14 vs. Indianapolis

The best game came at Detroit, on the same field where McNabb got benched. The Eagles made it to 14 or more in five of their eight games. Certainly no shame in struggling on the road against the defenses of San Francisco and Tennessee. Ironically, a poor showing in a high profile game vs. Washington is what's kept the Eagles from putting more distance between themselves and the Skins in the standings.

Right now:
Philadelphia 5-3
Washington 4-4

If the Eagles would have won that earlier home game:
Philadelphia 6-2
Washington 3-5

The legal betting markets see the Eagles as the superior team right now, by almost as much as that 6-2 vs. 3-5 projection would suggest. Philly is a road favorite of a field goal, meaning they'd be -6 on a neutral field, and -9 at home. It's as if the first meeting never happened!

Now that we've outlined what's been happening offensively with these teams, let's re-post our official preview numbers that originally ran back in our Thursday edition of the NOTEBOOK

Philadelphia: 13.8 offense, 11.6 defense (+8 TO's, 9th schedule)
Washington: 9.3 offense, 9.4 defense (+9 TO's, 20th schedule)

The Eagles are averaging very near the magic number of 14, while Washington hasn't reached double digits. But, we can now add in strength of schedule to get an even better sense of what's been happening. Philadelphia has been scoring well vs. a schedule that ranks in the top third of the league. Washington has been struggling against a schedule that's close to the bottom third.

So...we can pretty safely assume that Philadelphia is VERY happy they dumped McNabb when they did. Washington is now in the position of figuring out what they're going to do with an expensive player who isn't getting the job done. Reports were out over the weekend that the Skins are already in talks with McNabb about his future. Wouldn't that be something if they made things worth by making a longer term commitment to a guy their coach doesn't trust late in close games?!

Don't get us wrong. We're not suggesting McNabb should retire now, or that the Skins have no chance in this key divisional rematch. ALL Monday Night home underdogs have a chance no matter who's playing. And, this group of Skins is clearly better than many dogs that have scored upsets in past seasons. In favor of Washington tonight in terms of the pointspread:

  • They have the better defense based on our Drive Point numbers.
  • They have a quarterback who ONCE AGAIN has something to prove in a big TV game.
  • They are coming off a bye week while Philadelphia had a high energy game with the Colts last Sunday.
  • They have a great home crowd that will do what it can to be the 12th player on the field at all times.
  • Desperation is setting in from the playoff perspective because it will be hard to surge to a Wildcard spot with a 4-5 record through nine games.

On Philly's side:

  • Revenge, which is even bigger than normal here because it was MCNABB who beat them the first time.
  • Better performances vs. a tougher schedule, which gives them an edge late in a close game.
  • The emergence of Michael Vick as a younger, better version of McNabb, who also has something to prove to a national audience.

Here at JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK, we believe that Vegas has properly captured the stat differences between the teams right now with that spread up on the board. But, we think tonight's cover is going to be by at least a TD because of what we've heard from our on-site sources about the game. We do believe McNabb is the linchpin player. He's either going to have a career game and lead his team to victory...or he's going to find out his teammates have lost hope with him, and the Eagles are going to win by 10 or more.

We can't tell you here which way we're going. That information is for paying customers. We CAN tell you this is going to be one of our biggest Monday Night releases this season. And, we're putting it together with a big basketball play to create a two-sport parlay that you can take directly to the bank.

You can purchase tonight's BIG JUICY WINNERS right here at the website with your credit card. Or, call the office at 1-800-323-4453 if you'd like more details, or want to discuss longer term packages. The annual TURKEY SHOOT is coming up. Sign up early and starting stuffing your cornucopia with cash tonight!

Tonight will be a watershed night in the careers of both Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. But, it will just be business as usual for WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!

 

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