ASHBURN, Va. - With all the talk centering around the Philadelphia Eagles' surprising 1-4 start to the season, their opponent this week in the Washington Redskins aren't taking them lightly.
Redskins players and coaches spoke on Wednesday of how deceptive Philadelphia's record is to this point, and that their talent alone should make their match up Sunday a tough one.
"I think everyone's surprised with the start of their season," said tight end Chris Cooley. "It's not because their not playing good football, it's because they're turning the ball over."
Indeed, the Eagles committed five turnovers this past Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, yet scored 24 points and were a late touchdown away from tying the game. The Eagles ability to score quickly is seen as a testament to their talent level, something that the Redskins are wary of.
"They're a big play team, they have the ability to score fast, and we can't afford that" Cooley continued. "I don't think [The Redskins] can afford to give up big plays.
The Eagles hallmark on offense is the big play, as their diverse array of skill position players that feature the likes of DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Macklin and LeSean McCoy are among the fastest in the league.
"It's the fastest team we've faced" said linebacker London Fletcher. "I can't think of another that can match their speed at the skill positions. Add Michael Vick into the mix and nobody else has that type of speed."
Should the Redskins prevail this Sunday, it would vastly strengthen their position in the NFC East, putting them at 4-1 while leaving the Eagles in a 1-5 hole they may not be able to recover from.
"We understand this is a big game, a division game [in] the NFC East," said head coach Mike Shanahan. "We understand our opportunity to separate ourselves in the division."
Of course, the Redskins have a bit of motivation to beat the Eagles besides securing first place in the division. A year ago Philadelphia came to Washington and handed them one of their worst losses in franchise history, a 59-28 shellacking on Monday Night Football that saw Vick break multiple offensive records.
"The thing in my mind is playing a great game against Philly, they came in here last year and kick our rear-ends 59-28," Shanahan said. "That was very embarrassing for our organization as well as our coaching staff and our players."
But revenge aside, the biggest point about this Sunday's game is that the Redskins find themselves in the rare position of trying to strengthen their lead in the division and burying a division rival in the same time.
"We want to send them into the bye week continuing to go down" said fullback Darrel Young. "We don't want to let them have faith and hope and wish that they could still win the NFC East."