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Bold Predictions--Just Win, Baby

Bold Predictions--Just Win, Baby

You can reach me by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

You’ve seen them on TV countless times, the Oakland Raider fans dressed up in spikes and chains. They’re screaming, yelling, rattling their chains and supposedly turning McAfee Stadium into the infamous “Black Hole”. ESPN.com recently ran an article that centers on one such fan who goes under the moniker of “Spike”. The ESPN writer caught up with Spike, whose real name is Mark Shadinger of Sacremento, the morning of a home game against Denver:
"Today we raise hell. Today we turn the Black Hole into an absolute jungle. No mercy today. It's the Broncos."

Seven hours later, the Oakland Raiders are about to take the field against the Denver Broncos. Every beer-chugging, street-strutting, look-at-me-the-wrong-way-and-I-might-pop-you-in-the-mouth Raiders fan is charging toward McAfee Coliseum, eager to not miss a play.
Spike’s brother goes as the character “Howie”, presumably a tribute to ex-Raider Howie Long. He talks tough:
"We're evil. We're the devils, the degenerates.The Raiders, man. We're the bad guys. The misfits. I watch T.O. run his mouth off and I think to myself, 'Keep it up buddy and the sooner you'll be out here with us.' We're the guys that nobody wants their daughters to marry."
However, as the article title says, these vicious-looking characters are just that, characters. They’re all bark and no bite.
Three of the most visible Raider fans out there -- the go-to guys for photographers looking for that fan reaction shot -- are more Saturday morning cartoon characters than Friday night devil worshipers. They tell you they want Mike Shanahan on a stick. That they want someone to clothesline John Lynch. But then you find a neon green children's book in the back of the Durango, complete with a pop-up rubber football that squeaks when you squeeze it.

"Oh, that's for the kids," Spike says.

The Black Hole? It's more like a pink locker room.
Teams do not always take after their fans or vice versa. However, in this case, no matter which is the chicken and which is the egg, the team is just like its most noted fans. It lives off of the tough, bad-boy, misfit image but that’s just an image.

Randy Moss has left the field a couple of seconds early and delivered an ersatz moon shot in Lambeau Field, but he’s no Bill Romanowski. Warren Sapp has run through other teams’ warmup drills and mouths off on occasion but John Matuzak he ain’t. Kerry Collins used to drink too much and said some things that he shouldn’t have, but all that was years ago. He’s been nothing but a model citizen since leaving the Panthers following the 1997 season.

There is nobody else on the team who has what could be even remotely described as a checkered past unless some of them have some outstanding library fines.

It’s not like a bunch of good guys can’t go out and play some good, tough football. The Raiders, though, are a bit, well, soft. Their defense doesn’t scare anybody. They’re 19th in the NFL in rushing defense and 24th overall.

There’s not much there to put fear into opposing defenders either. Their rushing attack is 26th in the NFL. Collins’ play at quarterback has been respectable but far from spectacular.

The may have that famed “Commitment to Excellence”, but right now they are a thoroughly mediocre football team.

All in all, this team is a reflection of its head coach, Norv Turner. If you need an explanation of that, you missed the seasons from 1994-2001.

The Redskins should handle this pedestrian group. There is a temptation to say that they will handle them easily, but nothing has come easily for the Redskins this year. To take another phrase from the Raiders’ glorious past, the Redskins will “Just Win, Baby.”

Redskins 24, Raiders 17.

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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked - and what didn't - against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked - and what didn't - against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As their power running game vanishing, mirrored their prospects for winning the game.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 14 of the NFL season.

Record: 6-5-1, 3rd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-2
vs. NFC: 4-4
vs. AFC: 2-1-1
Home: 4-2
Away: 2-3-1

Rankings and changes from Week 13

Offense (yards/game): 418.6 (2nd, no change from Week 13)
Defense (yards/game): 369.6 (23rd, +2)
Points for: 303 (10th, -1)
Points against: 295 (20th, -2)

Passer rating offense:  99.8 (8th, -2)
Opp passer rating: 95.0 (22nd, -3)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.5 (5th, no change)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.6 (29th, +2)
Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 9.8% (10th, no change)
Playoff chances per FO: 41.5%, -14.1% from last week

Trending the right way: Not much, really. Their ranking in rushing defense improved a couple of notches but mostly because other teams got worse, not because the Redskins put the clamps down on the rushing game.

Trending the wrong way: For the first time in a few weeks the Redskins’ playoff chances are below 50 percent. Two straight losses will do that.  

Top three storylines:

Letting them have it—Jay Gruden is usually supportive of his team after a loss but that was not the case following the Cardinals game. He could be heard speaking to the team in angry tones in the locker room following the loss. We will see if this rare tirade jump-starts the Redskins’ stretch run.

Dealing with injury issues—Not only do the Redskins have to be concerned about the condition of Jordan Reed, whose status is unclear as he rehabs from a shoulder injury he suffered on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, their starting center is in the concussion protocol. If Spencer Long can’t go the Redskins may have to add a center to back up John Sullivan.

Help wanted—The Redskins need other teams to lose if they want to make the playoffs. They need a little help if they win out to finish 10-5-1; they need more help if they finish at 9-6-1. Scoreboard watching starts at 4:25 on Sunday when the Bucs, a half-game ahead of Washington, host the Saints and continues on Sunday night football with the Cowboys at the Giants.

Next three games

Sunday @ Eagles (5-7)—The Redskins handled them well in October; the final score did not indicate how Washington dominated the game. The Eagles look more like a rebuilding team than a playoff contender and the Redskins could elimate them for all practical purposes

December 19 vs. Panthers (4-8)—The season of the defending NFC champs officially came off the rails on Sunday night when Cam Newton started the game on the bench because he didn’t wear a tie and he ended it looking at the wrong end of a 40-7 beatdown by the Seahawks. Still, the Redskins have never beaten Newton so this is not one that will come easily.

Christmas Eve vs. Bears (3-9)—There is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL but if the Redskins can’t manage to win this one they don’t deserve to make the playoffs.