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Bold Predictions: Talkin' Tiki

Bold Predictions: Talkin' Tiki

Speaking of an upcoming Super Bowl, iconoclastic Dallas running back Duane Thomas once said, “If it’s the biggest game of all time, why are they going to play another one next year?”

A similar question could be asked this week. If last week’s game against Dallas was the biggest ever at FedEx Field, what do you call the one against the Giants this Saturday?

It’s not the elimination game that we saw last week with the loser being virtually out of the realistic playoff picture. The Redskins could lose and still qualify for the playoffs with a win the next week in Philadelphia with some help that is not too far-fetched (basically, having Dallas, Atlanta, and Minnesota do no better than split their final two games). Even if the Giants lose, they will still be in control of their own destiny as a win the next week in Oakland would clinch the NFC East for them regardless of the outcome on Saturday.  

Despite the absence of desperation, there is a lot at stake here. The Redskins have pulled themselves up from a 5-6 mark at the beginning of December to having their playoff destiny in their own hands and they don’t want to relinquish their grip on the postseason spot and the potential for a division title. New York would like to clinch the division early and aim towards a possible first-round bye.

And then there’s that little matter of 36-0. The Redskins simply can’t afford to let a statement like that stand, especially since it’s likely that their opponents in the first round of the playoffs would be none other than the New York Giants.

One the defensive side, it’s pretty simple—don’t let Tiki Barber beat you. Eli Manning was over hyped in the beginning of the year but now that’s fading because his performance is. In three December games, Manning’s quarterback rating is a dismal 54. He is, however, managing the games well; the Giants are 3-0 in those games.

Managing the game isn’t too hard when that consists of handing the ball off to Barber. The 30-year-old back has averaged 150 yards a game in December and has gone over 100 yards rushing in each of his last five games. Everyone remembers his performance against the Redskins in October when he rushed for 206 and set the tone for the rout by tearing off a 57-yard run on New York’s first play. Don’t forget that he racked up those yards in about three quarters of work. Like Kobie Bryant the other night, he put up his number and declined to pile it on in the late going with the game well in hand, preferring to rest to fight another day.

One thing that the Redskins have in their favor is that Barber is a better running on turf than he is on grass. He averaged 5.4 yards a carry on the fake stuff and just 3.8 a pop on real grass. There is a chance that both of their starting offensive tackles will miss the game, but neither played last week and that bothered Barber so much that he only ran for 220 yards against the Chiefs. The Redskins can give Tiki his 100, but every yard over that will diminish the Redskins’ chances.

The Giants will have a similar goal; they need to stop Clinton Portis. The Redskins’ three-game winning streak has coincided with a return to an emphasis on the ground game.

As Mark Brunell’s pass attempts have gone down, his quarterback rating has gone up. Other than the ugly 34 caused by the three interceptions in Arizona, he hasn’t been below a 96.8 rating in the past four games. Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels will make it their personal challenges to keep Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora off of Brunell’s back, something they failed to do last time around.

It’s difficult to imagine the Redskins posting a second easy win in a row, just as it’s hard to believe that the Giants will dominate to anywhere near the extent they did last time. The Giants are the slightly better team. They have won two more games than Washington against a similar schedule. The Redskins have the home field. The noise helped force about a half dozen false starts by Dallas last week and the crowd could have come up with a few more had the game been competitive in the second half.

And the Giants just aren’t a good road team. Their only wins away from the Meadowlands (their game against the Saints in Giants Stadium is officially a “road” game) have been in San Francisco and Philly. They haven’t been successful in an atmosphere like they will encounter in FedEx Field all year.

Barber will get his yards and New York will put up some points, about half of what they put up in the Meadowlands. Manning will throw for a touchdown or two but he’ll also toss up a couple of interceptions. Brunell will get knocked around some but Portis will be effective enough to keep his pass attempts around 20. The Redskins will score midway through the fourth quarter to take the lead, but the Giants will battle back. A couple of false starts will push back a field goal attempt and the Redskins will survive.

Redskins 20, Giants 17


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The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 5 worst play of 2016

Redskins at Lions Week 7

0:22 left in Q4, Lions ball at the Redskins 18, 3rd and 10, Redskins leading 17-13

Matthew Stafford pass short left to Anquan Boldin for 18 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

More Redskins: Podcast--All eyes now on Cousins

Tandler: The Redskins had just taken the lead on a nifty 19-yard option run by Kirk Cousins with 1:05 left to play. All they had to do was keep the Lions out of the end zone but the defense was not up to the task. In fact, it was laughably easy for Stafford. The first three times he dropped back he completed passes for 23, 14, and 20 yards and just like that the Lions were in the red zone. It looked for a minute like the Redskins might hang on as two passes went incomplete. But on third down Stafford found Boldin open inside the five and the defense couldn’t get there quickly enough to keep him out of the end zone.

Related: Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky

Finlay: 65 seconds was all the 'Skins defense needed to preserve a win by holding the Lions without a touchdown. 65 seconds away from a five-game win streak, and knowing what we do now, a playoff berth. The Redskins defense couldn't stop Stafford, or Boldin, and lost in Detroit. A gut wrenching loss as the momentum on the Washington sideline seemed incredibly high just minutes before when Cousins ran in what looked like the game-winning score. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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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Who else could be trade partners with the Redskins in a Cousins deal?

Who else could be trade partners with the Redskins in a Cousins deal?

With the offensive and defensive coordinators now in place, the Redskins now turn their attention to two other matters.

One is the NFL combine, which gets underway on February 28. The other is the NFL franchise tag deadline, which happens to come the very next day, on March 1.

There has been plenty of talk lately about the possibility of the Redskins giving Kirk Cousins the franchise tag designation and then trading him if they don’t think that they will be able to sign him to a long-term deal.

While one team, the 49ers, has been talked about as a potential landing spot for Cousins they would not be the only interested team if there is going to be a deal.

Let’s take a look at what teams might be moderately interested or highly interested.

RELATED: GRUDEN'S FATE WITH REDSKINS HINGES ON MANUSKY

49ers (2-14)
Head coach:
Vacant, but will be Kyle Shanahan after the Super Bowl
First-round pick: No. 2
2016 leading passer: Colin Kaepernick

Connecting the dots here is easy as Shanahan was the offensive coordinator when Cousins was drafted by the Redskins in 2012. There would be no need for the two to get familiar with each other; they had two years to do that. Cousins seems like a natural fit in Shanahan’s offense. The 49ers are likely to move on from Kaepernick rather than taking his $19.4 million cap hit. They may try to move that No. 2 pick, or a package of other picks, to try to get Cousins. Anticipated interest: High

Bears (3-13)
Head coach:
John Fox
First-round pick: No. 3
2016 leading passer: Matt Barkley

This is the year that the Bears can finally move on from Jay Cutler without taking a crippling cap hit. Releasing Cutler, who played in just five games last year due to injury, would cost them just $2 million in dead cap. But do they really want to move on from Cutler, who wasn’t bad the last two years he was able to play? If they do, it seems unlikely that they would part with the No. 3 pick. Anticipated interest: Moderate

RELATED: 2017 MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Jets (5-11)
Head coach:
Todd Bowles
First-round pick: No. 6
2016 leading passer: Ryan Fitzpatrick

In the last four drafts, the Jets have spent a second-round pick on Geno Smith, a fourth on Bryce Petty and a second on Christian Hackeberg. Smith is on his way out, Petty was shaky in four starts last year and Hackenberg didn’t see the field as a rookie. It would not be surprising to see them shop for an established, young-ish starter like Cousins. The No. 6 pick might be too much for Cousins. Another factor to consider is if Cousins would agree to a long-term deal to play in New York. They would have to carve out some cap space to get a deal done; they currently are $7.7 million over the anticipated cap. Anticipated interest: Moderate

Browns (1-15)
Head coach:
Hue Jackson
First-round pick: No. 1 and No. 12
2016 leading passer: Cody Kessler

Robert Griffin III is under contract for 2017 with a $6 million salary plus a $1.5 million roster bonus that the Browns can move on from for a relatively modest $1.75 million cap hit. It would not be outrageous for them to deal the No. 12 pick for Cousins. The question is if Cousins would want to be the latest QB to join the Browns’ Trail of Tears. Anticipated interest: Moderate

Other possibilities: The Cardinals might wonder if Carson Palmer’s slide from MVP candidate to mediocrity will continue and look to bring in an alternative . . . The Broncos can’t be happy with Trevor Simeon as their long-term starter and if they didn’t like what they saw from Paxton Lynch they might want to deal. But John Elway isn’t going to overpay . . . It will be another year before the Texans can move on from Brock Osweiler without a killer cap hit but they could just bench him and bring in their long-term answer a year early . . . Blake Bortles has just one more year left on his rookie deal and the Jaguars may move to get his replacement this year.

Note: The Rams are not mentioned here despite the presence of Sean McVay. They gave up a lot of draft picks to move up to No. 1 overall to take Jarred Goff last year and while he struggled they are not going to move on from him after one season. 

RELATED: MOST IMPORTANT REDSKINS FREE AGENTS

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.