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Reynolds Rap

Fracas in Philly

9/17/2007 10:01 AM

It’s No. 4 versus No. 9. No, Oklahoma isn’t squaring off against Wisconsin on the college gridiron. Rather, that’s where Nielsen ranks Philadelphia and Washington D.C., respectively, in terms of TV households, as big markets, if not necessarily big-scoring teams, match up on Monday Night Football.

Both teams were involved in 16-13 games during the NFL’s first 2007 week: the Skins were on the right end, topping the Miami Dolphins, while the Eagles’ lost to the surprising Green Bay Packers.

Eagles quarterback and Donovan McNabb and flock are 6.5 point favorites in a contest they must win, unless they want to fall two games back of Tony Romo’s high-flying Dallas Cowboys. Coming off the disappointing result in Lambeau last week and his season-ending injury last year, will the Philly boobirds be in full throat if QB Donovan McNabb, who bemoans the way black QBs are treated on the Sept. 18 edition of HBO Real Sports, doesn’t step it up?

Washington owner Dan Snyder–say hello to Mark Shapiro for us—still relies on Joe Gibbs, who has to get the most out of QB Jason Campbell, in his first full year as a starter, TE Chris Cooley and over-hyped RB Clinton Portis, if the hall of fame coach  doesn’t want his administration to resemble that of George W’s. Free agent LB Simon Fletcher and CB Fred Smoot look to bring stability to what was quite a porous group a year ago – 31st in yards allowed in 2006.

However, the key matchup figures to be the Eagles retooled linebacking corps against the Redskins’ ground game, which produced 191 yards on 41 carries. Portis picked up 98 on 17 attempts and scored a TD. Last week, Philly held the Pack to 46 yards on 17 rushes. Should the Skins and a 21st century version of the Hogs succeed the clock figures to roll quickly and neither team might cross the 20-point barrier.

Whether it’s a low-octane event or not, Philly viewers aren’t likely to turn their dials to Comcast Sports Net for the Phillies game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Even as Jimmy Rollins’s group continues its chase of the New York Mets in the NL East and the wild card-leading San Diego Padres, the city’s baseball team has always taken a back seat to football and the NHL Flyers.

As for Washington’s Nationals, there still the Expos in this book, until their new stadium opens. There are likely many more interested parties in Manhattan for the club’s contest against the Amazins tonight than on MASN.

The start of Fox’s new season, featuring the third season of Prison Break at 8 p.m. (ET) and the premiere of Anthony-Anderson-starrer K-ville at 9 p.m. might prove somewhat distracting to some viewers in the first half.

But no matter how things play out, look for Eagles/Redskins to surpass the Nielsen ESPN tackled with its doubleheader opener a week ago. While Cincinnati/Baltimore attracted 11.1 million viewers, second only to Disney Channel’s record-setting Aug. 17 premiere of High School Musical 2, in basic cable this year, Arizona/San Francisco drew just 8.5 million for the "Mike Bowl" — the game was called by Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic and Mike Ditka. That total was the fifth best in basic cable this year, but the total sports network’s lowest ever average for MNF.