Sat, Nov 24, 2007 - Page 18 News List

NFL: Eagles face daunting task

AP , NEW YORK

The Philadelphia Eagles face a daunting task tomorrow night in Foxborough, the latest sacrificial offering on the Patriots' plate.

It is made worse by the fact quarterback Donovan McNabb has a sprained ankle and a swollen right thumb, likely leaving journeyman backup A.J. Feeley to be served up.

It is probably best that McNabb save himself for the final push. Even at 5-5 , the Eagles have a shot at the National Football League playoffs, tied with the Redskins and Cardinals just out of playoff range.

In other games tomorrow, Seattle are at St. Louis; Minnesota at the New York Giants; Oakland at Kansas City; Houston at Cleveland; Tennessee at Cincinnati; New Orleans at Carolina; Washington at Tampa Bay; Buffalo at Jacksonville; San Francisco at Arizona; Denver at Chicago; and Baltimore at San Diego.

Miami are at Pittsburgh on Monday night.

The Eagles can't officially surrender despite being 22-point underdogs, the second-largest spread in NFL history. The spread makes sense -- New England have outscored their opponents in 10 wins by an average of 41-16 and only once have they won by less than 17 points.

This is the first meeting of these teams since the 2005 Super Bowl, won by New England 24-21 .

The Patriots, who can clinch the AFC East Division with a win, might be one of the best teams ever. Tom Brady and new addition Randy Moss are in reach of season records for touchdown passes and catches held by Peyton Manning and Jerry Rice.

In last week's 56-10 win over Buffalo, a team that had won four straight, New England scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions, then returned a fumble for the eighth score. Bill Belichick finally inserted the scrubs with about 11 minutes left, but not before twice going for a first down on fourth-and-one.

Belichick was asked about that this week.

"I mean, our offense was moving the ball pretty well and in those situations at that point in the game, I really don't like kicking field goals," he said. "I feel like that's just adding points. I'd rather go for it on fourth down and give them an opportunity to stop us."

The problem is that nobody can.

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