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Better than the Dallas win?

Better than the Dallas win?

This was a better win than the one over Dallas.

Don't get me wrong, the game last week was sweet. It was a big statement game and the Redskins came out and got it done in a place where they historically have had trouble.

It didn't seem, however, that the Cowboys were particularly fired up for the game. They didn't take the Redskins very seriously. Washington was the beneficiary of a TO fixation on the part of Tony Romo (despite Owens' protestations to the contrary). A key mistake—12 men on the field—greatly aided the Redskins' effort to salt away the game. The Redskins weren't able to go into victory formation until after gaining possession after an onside kick, a kick on which a Dallas player had his hands.

In Philadelphia the Redskins had to overcome a lot of adversity. They were without three defensive starters. Philly shoved the ball down their throats on the first drive and Brian Westbrook, a guy most of the Redskins would rather have taken another week to heal his injured ankle, scored a touchdown. Thirty nine seconds of game time later, it was 14-0 after a punt return for a touchdown.

The Redskins followed up their ugly three and out on their first drive with an ugly five and out. Philly got the ball at its own 15 and started to move in for the kill. After a penalty against the Redskins for too many men on the field it was first and ten at the Washington 37.

Then London Fletcher makes a sure tackle at the 35 on Tony Hunt when the receiver had a lot of green grass in front of him. On second and eight Buckhalter tries the left end but Andre Carter strings it out and Fletcher again makes the stop after a gain of 3. Then McNabb fired a pass that an open Greg Lewis maybe could have caught for a first down had the quarterback not put so much mustard on it. Then David Akers' 50-yard field goal try faded wide right.

The Washington offense did not have an equal and opposite reaction to the Philadelphia barrage of early points. They just started chopping wood, using ax #26 and ax #47 for the most part. They averted what had been a bugaboo during their previous three-game winning streak by not giving up cheap points just before halftime. In fact, the Redskins took over at their own 18 with 55 seconds left and drove in for a field goal at the end of the half (of course, those points were well-earned, not cheap at all).

And they kept after it and kept after it and Antwaan Randle El threw a touchdown pass to Cooley to put the Redskins in the lead. Portis' four-yard touchdown run on third and goal (a play call for which Joe Gibbs would have been ripped whether or not it had worked) made it 23-14 with 14:54 left to play.

There would be just two more possessions. The Eagles' offense, dormant for two quarters, came to life and they drove to a second and one at the Washington two. At the time, referring to the Eagles being unable to punch it in from close in last week in Chicago, I blogged "The Skins have them right where they want them."

Sure enough, Westbrook went into the pile for a yard and a half and then Andre Carter blew up a block, forcing Westbrook deep and into the arms of Khary Campbell for a three-yard loss.

Akers' field goal was good with 7:36 left to play. And the Eagles didn't get the ball back thanks to:

  1. Some tough Portis running.
  2. A third and four conversion on an 11-yard pass from Campbell to Randle El.
  3. A third and nine conversion on a heady scramble by Campbell, complete with a nifty move right at the first-down line to elude a tackle.
  4. Finally, another gutsy call by Zorn, going for it on fourth and one. Portis, according to Zorn, called the play and powered for three yards.

Victory formation. 4-1. Nice.

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Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Here is my weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL:

Before we get going, let’s line up the NFL wild card contenders by current seed and their remaining four games.

Giants (8-4): Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (7-5): Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (6-5-1): @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (6-6): @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (6-6): Seahawks, @Bears, Vikings, @Lions
Cardinals (5-6-1): @Dolphins, Saints, @Seahawks, @Rams
Saints (5-7): @Bucs, @Cardinals, Bucs, @Falcons
Eagles (5-7): Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys

—The Redskins can knock the Eagles out of any practical chance of making the playoffs with a win on Sunday. An Eagles loss would mean they could finish no better than 8-8 and that is highly unlikely to get it done this year.

—For a second straight week, Redskins fans need to root for Cowboys to win. Or for their opponent to lose. Some wanted to make that distinction last week when Cowboys played the Vikings and the optimal outcome for the Redskins was a Dallas win. However you want to look at it, a Giants loss to Dallas could move the Redskins to within a half game of the No. 5 seed.

MORE REDSKINS: Assessing the four remainig opponents

—There should be no hesitation about pulling for the Saints to beat the Bucs. A Washington win and a Tampa Bay loss puts the Redskins back into playoff position with the No. 6 seed. The Bucs are 2.5-point favorites at home. They are the hot team, coming in with four straight wins while New Orleans has lost three of four. The Saints are on the fringe of contention but Redskins fans need to pull for the teams ahead of Washington in the standings.

—The Redskins can’t look for much help when it comes to the team immediately behind them in the standings. The Vikings visit the Jaguars, who are locked in to yet another season of double-digit losses. You might be tempted to look for the home underdog to put up a fight and they might. But Blake Bortles has thrown three pick sixes this year and the Vikings have returned two interceptions for TDs this year. Look for such a play to be decisive and for the Vikings to remain tight with Washington in the standings.

—The other team a half game behind the Redskins is the Packers. They host the Seahawks in what could be very snowy conditions in Green Bay. Seattle is a three-point favorite but if the weather gets crazy anything could happen. Redskins fans need to root for the Seahawks, for obvious reasons.

RELATED: Three Redskins out on Sunday, Reed questionable

—The Cardinals creeped back into contention with their win over the Redskins. That win and the fact that they have a tie on their ledger means that the Redskins do not want to finish with the same record as Arizona. This is one of the few situations where a tiebreaker would matter. It’s an easy call to pull for them to fall to the AFC Dolphins.

—I went 2-1 last week, winning with the Patriots over the Rams and the Seahawks over the Panthers. I have four NFL picks this week, all of them road favorites: the Redskins -1 on the road over the Eagles, the Cowboys -3 at the Giants, the Falcons -6 over the Rams in L.A., and the Seahawks giving three to the Packers.

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Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 10, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 14; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 22

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Around Redskins Park

The Redskins have four games remaining on their schedule. Three wins would give them a record of 9-6-1 and a very good shot at the playoffs. Four will almost certainly get them a ticket to keep playing; two wins or fewer will have them needing a whole lot of help to make the postseason

Let’s take a look at the Redskins’ remaining four opponents and revisit the confidence level on the Redskins’ chances of beating each one of them. (I first did this exercise a few weeks ago).

@Eagles, 5-7, weighted DVOA via Football Outsiders, 15.3% (ranked 5th)
The Eagles looked like playoff contenders for about half of the season but they have taken a tumble back to earth, losing five of their last six. Right now the Redskins are the better team, although their long injury list is an area for concern. The Eagles appear to be in some degree of disarray after their coach accused some unnamed players of giving less than full effort. Confidence that the Redskins will win: High

Panthers, 4-8, DVOA -7.5% (25th)
They won’t be able to defend their NFC championship much longer. By the time this game comes around they could be either eliminated or on the verge of being mathematically out of the playoffs. Their problems are numerous including big issues at cornerback (too bad they didn’t have a guy who could have helped franchise tagged) and an offensive line that has been injury-wracked all year. Still, Cam Newton is a scary quarterback and he still has tight end Greg Olsen and receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr. If the Redskins get into a shootout they could be in trouble. Confidence: Moderately high

@Bears, 3-9, DVOA -3.0%, (24th)
Matt Barkley is the Bears’ third starting QB this season and in most statistical categories he’s the worst of the three. The Bears have been hit by injuries as hard as any NFL team with multiple starters on injured reserve. They probably would have struggled even with those players healthy; without them they are one of the five worst teams in the NFL. The one thing to beware of is the late December weather in Chicago, which could randomize the outcome to an extent. Confidence: Very high

Giants, 8-4, DVOA 5.0%, (12th)
The new players on the Giants’ defense were just starting to gel when end Jason Pierre-Paul’s season ended after sports hernia surgery. Their defense, with the No. 7 DVOA (-9.6%), won’t collapse but it won’t be as strong. Eli Manning’s stats are down a tick from last year but as long as he has Odell Beckham to throw to the Giants won’t be totally stymied on offense. This one is hard to get a good feel for this far out, not knowing what might be at stake for either team. Confidence: Moderate

For comparison purposes, the 6-5-1 Redskins have a DVOA of 9.8% (10th)

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