Five keys to Sunday’s Redskins-Raiders plus a prediction.
1. This game will be an Al Davis special—“Just win, baby”. Don’t look for many style points with the Redskins still searching for offensive consistency and struggling with some defensive fundamentals. They’ll probably have to settle for field goals far more often than most would like (all Redskins fans should drink to Kai Forbath’s health) and the defense could still bend and maybe break on occasion. A blowout win would be great for everyone’s morale going into the bye but a close, scuffling victory might just have to do.
2. If Terrelle Pryor is out and Matt Flynn is in for Oakland, the Redskins will be facing a backup quarterback as the starter for the other team for the fifth time since Mike Shanahan became the head coach. They are 2-2 in the previous four games. Both of the wins came last year against the Eagles’ Nick Foles. In 2011 they lost to Matt Moore of the Dolphins and in 2010 Jon Kitna led the Cowboys to a win over Washington. Perhaps that last one should have an asterisk since the Redskins started their backup Rex Grossman for that game.
3. Which Darren McFadden will the Redskins get? The one who averaged 6.8 yards per carry (19 carries, 129 yards) against the Jaguars? Or the one who averaged 2.8 a pop against the Colts (17 for 48) or a microscopic 0.8 (12 for 9) in Denver? McFadden has enough speed to pop a long run and boost his average substantially if the Redskins don’t solve their tackling woes quickly.
4. It’s hard to figure out what to make of the Raiders’ defense at this poing. They do have 10 sacks but they have yet to intercept a pass. They held the Colts to 274 total yards and the Jags to 248 before getting blasted for 536 yards against the Colts. You could look at their defensive numbers from last year and see that they ranked 18th in terms of yardage but they have turned over almost all of the starters from last year so that won’t tell you much about 2013. They look pretty active and aggressive and we’ll see about how Robert Griffin III and company can do against them.
5. And how well Griffin might play could depend on how well Alfred Morris runs. When the Redskins’ offense was rolling last year, Griffin throwing play-action passes after faking to Morris was a big part of it. An inconsistent running game this year has had ripple effects. The cure is 25 carries for Morris with him grinding out 4-6 yards each time he gets the ball. That will get the defense to cheat up and then we’ll see how ready Griffin really is.
Redskins 23, Raiders 14