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Bold Predictions Redskins vs. Cardinals

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Bold Predictions Redskins vs. Cardinals

I’ve been following the NFL since 1967 and I’ve never wanted anything that the Cardinals had, either in St. Louis or as Phoenix or Arizona. Until now, that is. Here is the artist’s rendition of their new stadium, which will finally open next season:

No, it’s not the retractable roof. I’m not real wild about those contraptions. Besides, it looks like when it’s open that the sun will shine on the field in disruptive patterns like you find at Texas Stadium.

The cool thing is what you see sticking out in front of it, the retractable field. Yes, a retractable field. From the brochure describing the stadium:

The first completely retractable field in North America, it will be positioned inside the stadium on game days to offer the preferred natural-grass playing surfact for football and outside the stadium for the remaining 350+ days of the year to receive sunlight and watering. The field tray will be powered by electric motors mounted on steel wheels rifing on tracks embedded in the concrete floor.

Now that’s cool. You don’t have to use fake grass and still have your semi-dome. It just goes to show you what you can do if someone backs up several dump trucks full of public money for you to build your stadium with. The brochure does note that the Cardinals “contributed” $120 million to the project, which will have a price tag in the vicinity of a half a billion dollars. Mighty big of you, Bill Bidwell. It probably about covered the cost of the retractable field.

The Cardinals’ owner is notorious for throwing around nickels like they were manhole covers. They are under the salary cap every year. For 2006 they are some $30 million under the projected cap. It will be interesting to see if he will put the cash that his mostly taxpayer funded palace into the team or into his pocket. The betting is that the manholes don’t travel far from Bidwell’s pocket.

The Redskins are a game behind a group of 7-5 teams that are fighting for the last Wild Card playoff spot. While it was pointed out here earlier this week that they might be able to afford one more loss and snare a playoff spot with nine wins, this is note one of the games that they can afford to lose. They have to build something called a winning streak, something they haven’t done since the first three games of the season. And you just can’t lose to the Cardinals, one of the worst teams in the league.

Out of the five phases of the game—passing, pass defense, running, run defense, and special teams—Arizona is respectable in one of them, the first one. Kurt Warner is finding Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin often enough to be able to string together four 300-yard passing games in his last five outings. Their special teams play was very good, especially the kicking, until Neil Rackers pulled a calf muscle in practice and wound up on the shelf. But they are dead last in the NFL in running the ball and mediocre at best defensively.

Washington hopes to be able to keep Warner and company off the field and control the clock by running Clinton Portis left, right, and up the middle. Look for them to go with the pitchout to Portis, the play that resulted in his 47-yard touchdown run in St. Louis, a bit more often than they have been.

The Redskins won against a mediocre team on the road last week somewhat easily. The game was not quite as close as even the 24-9 final score would indicate. They should be able to do the same this week. Unlike some times in the past when the Redskins have had the superior team and have gone into Arizona or St. Louis expecting to win easily only to be trapped, they won’t get caught looking past this game.

Redskins 28, Cardinals 14

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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS STATEMENT WAS A MISTAKE, BUT WON'T HAVE IMPACT ON THE FIELD

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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