‘Tis late October, and the Burgundy Boys are 5-2. I think Redskins fans would all agree that the Z-Man has gone above and beyond the expectations for a rookie head coach in the first half.
Honestly, I’ve spent more time this week analyzing scenarios where Redskins lose to the 0-6 Lions rather than thinking up strategies for a victory. Is it possible that a game against a struggling team could be considered a must win?
I guess it depends on how you look at it.
In a division with caliber the size of the NFC East, you could probably argue that every game is a must win. The Skins have an apparent scheduling advantage down the stretch, so every game is extremely important (especially the games that you’re supposed to win). Remember, this is an NFC game, and these things count at the end of the year, regardless of the opponent.
The Lions come into Week 8 with a defense that ranks dead last in nearly every major statistical category in the NFL. Their two-deep zone coverage forces linebackers to get involved in the pass rush, and with only 2 combined sacks, quarterbacks have had time to pick them apart. Ernie Sims has been a light at the end of a dark tunnel on Detroit’s D. He makes plays all over the field, and his quickness allows him to be in on lots of tackles. This is a guy that number 17 should locate at all times.
I think the only way the Lions have a shot on Sunday is if the game turns into a shootout. Calvin Johnson is an absolute monster receiver, so Carlos Rogers will have his hands full all day. I’d look for LaRon Landry to help cast a shadow over Johnson, eliminating any serious deep threats. (The man had 154 yards on 2, yes 2 catches against Houston last week).
Number 81’s production will depend on former UCONN Husky Quarterback Dan Orlovsky. In two starts he is completing a mere 50.5% of his passes with a 72.9 rating, but I don’t think he has been as bad as the stats show. Orlovsky flashed his deep ball capabilities after launching a 96 yard bomb to Johnson last week. The Redskins front will need to get after him early and often to make things uncomfortable in the pocket.
In 2007, Jason Campbell had one of the best outings in his young career against the Lions at FedEx Field. Jason went 23-for-29 for 248 yards with two TDs, leading the Skins to a 34-3 drubbing. Campbell has been more of a game manager in 2008, but it would not surprise me if he puts up some nice numbers in the Motor City against the league's 31st ranked pass defense.
Look for Antwaan Randle El to have a solid game. He had over 100 yards receiving in the first half against Detroit last season before tweaking his hamstring on what would have been a big TD off of a 3rd down slant. Antwaan consistently puts up 4-7 receptions a game, and occasionally gets in the endzone. (Santana Moss has the ability to explode every Sunday, so don’t sleep on 89).
Clinton Portis is rushing against history this week. Jason La Canfora of Redskins Insider did a piece on this earlier in the week. If CP goes over 120 yards on the ground, he will become the 2nd player in NFL history to do so five consecutive weeks twice in their career. (Joining O.J. Simpson). Unless Jim Zorn decides to give Clinton a lighter load, I think he gets it done. During the election season, Dr. Do-Itch-Big is running a strong campaign for Most Valuable Player.
This game is screaming mismatch, and if it were played on paper, the Skins would blow out the Lions without flinching.
We know better than that. "Any given Sunday". Just ask the Rams.
However, I think the Skins have learned their lesson on overlooking a team.
Prediction: Redskins 27 Lions 13