September 17, 2014

Once an embattled, turnover-prone quarterback, Kirk Cousins has finally blossomed while leading the Washington Redskins to the brink of the NFC East title.

The Philadelphia Eagles still have an outside shot at finishing first, though coach Chip Kelly has been answering more questions about running back DeMarco Murray than anything.

The Redskins will try to wrap up their second division title in 16 seasons by winning a third straight game Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Washington (7-7) was an afterthought as a contender while Cousins threw for an average of 236.7 yards with six touchdowns and eight interceptions during a 2-4 start.

Something seemed to change Oct. 25 when the fourth-year pro rallied the Redskins from a 24-point deficit in a 31-30 home win over Tampa Bay. Afterward, Cousins ran toward the locker room, pointed to reporters and now famously screamed: ''You like that?! You like that?!''

Cousins has thrown for 275.6 yards per game to go along with 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions while the team has won five of eight. He completed 22 of 28 passes for 319 yards and four scores in last Sunday's 35-25 home win over Buffalo.

''A lot of people thought he wasn't going to be a good starting quarterback or think he wasn't going to be able to get the job done,'' former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson said.

Cousins leads the league with a 69.7 completion percentage and has set a franchise record with 336 completions. He threw for a career-high 427 yards in a 37-34 loss Sept. 21, 2014, in the most recent meeting at Philadelphia and has totaled 717 with four touchdowns and one interception in two against the Eagles (6-8).

Now he'll try to lead the Redskins to their first three-game winning streak since running off seven straight to close the 2012 season, the only year since 2000 that they've won the East. Cousins hit Pierre Garcon on a four-yard TD pass with 26 seconds left for a 23-20 win over the Eagles in Week 4, but Washington has dropped its last two road meetings.

''We still have a dogfight in front of us. And we can't walk before we crawl, put it like that,'' Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams said. ''We've got to focus on the Eagles.''

Jackson makes his second visit to Philadelphia since signing with Washington after the Eagles cut him before last season. He missed the first matchup this year after totaling nine receptions for 243 yards with a touchdown in two 2014 meetings.

Jackson had a season-high 153 yards and his fourth touchdown in five games last Sunday, while tight end Jordan Reed has totaled 16 catches for 204 yards and three scores over his last two.

They'll face an Eagles defense that has given up an average of 35.6 points over its last five and ranks 24th in the NFL with 259.1 passing yards allowed per game. Things could get worse for Philadelphia if cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Eric Rowe can't play.

Maxwell suffered a shoulder/collarbone injury in last Sunday's 40-17 home loss to Arizona and Rowe is going through the NFL's protocol after sustaining a concussion.

Philadelphia also has a lot riding on this game, needing to win its last two to clinch a second division title in three years. If the Eagles lose to the Redskins, they would miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year and in four of the past five.

''The playoffs start on Saturday,'' said linebacker Connor Barwin, who has 2 1/2 sacks in his last three games. ''We have to put (the Arizona game) behind us.''

Despite all that's at stake, Kelly has been bombarded with questions regarding the demoted Murray, who signed a big free-agent contract after leading the NFL in rushing last season but was on the field for eight snaps last week.

Ryan Mathews had 58 yards on 11 carries and Darren Sproles was used in goal line work.

''It's not about getting touches; it's about winning and productivity,'' Kelly said.

Washington ranks 28th in the NFL against the run, allowing 129.8 yards per game.

Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford hopes to play better after committing four turnovers over the past two weeks. He completed 15 of 28 attempts for 270 yards with three touchdowns and no picks in the first meeting.

Jordan Matthews will try to build on his career-best 159 yards receiving last week. He had a pair of touchdown receptions in the last home matchup with Washington.

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