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Need to Know: How will the Redskins do in the second half of the season?

Need to Know: How will the Redskins do in the second half of the season?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 14, one day before the Washington Redskins host the New Orleans Saints.

Five thoughts on the Redskins at the midway point of the season

—The defense has improved only marginally from last year, a somewhat disappointing result after the big free agent expenditures there during the offseason. They have allowed 24.4 points per game (17th in the NFL) compared to 27.4 last year (29th), so that’s marginally better. But after they started out well giving up just 27 points in their first two games, they have given up 27 or more points in four of their last six.

—Offensively, they are about a wash. Scoring per game has increased by just a tenth of a point (18.8 last year to 18.9 this year). You can argue over which quarterback should be playing (although there seems to be unanimous agreement at Redskins Park), but it’s hard to argue that sticking with one guy has helped. By the time eight games had passed in 2014 there had already been three quarterback changes with more to come. The issue is the rushing game, with the average yards per carry plummeting from a middle of the pack 4.2 last year to a pathetic 3.6 average.

—Special teams got off to a rocky start with a punt return for a touchdown costing them in the season opener and a blocked punt getting Week 3 in the Meadowlands off to a rocky start. But they have turned things around, scoring TDs on a kickoff return and on a blocked punt. And they haven’t allowed any big returns against them since Week 1. Part of the credit goes to Dustin Hopkins, who is taking kickoff returns out of the equation by pounding many of his kickoffs through the end zone.

—How much have injuries hurt the Redskins? Some more than others. Jordan Reed being out of the lineup may have been the difference in the loss to the Falcons. Chris Culliver could have helped against Brandon Marshall and the Jets. If you want to go back to the preseason, maybe Niles Paul on special teams and Junior Galette edge rushing could have turned around the result of the Miami game. I think that they would have lost at the Giants and at the Patriots even if they were fully healthy. And, of course, the opponents have had their share of injuries, too, so perhaps these things would even out.

—The Redskins are 3-5 at the midway point of the season for the fourth year in a row. Only in 2012, when they lost game No. 9 and won their last seven to win the NFC East, have things ended well after that start. I don’t see a magical run to the division title like we saw with RG3 in 2012. But I also don’t see an 0-8 record in the second half like we saw in 2013 or a six-game slide that started off the second half last year. I could see them going 3-5 in the second half, maybe 4-4 if they catch a few breaks.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough at Redskins Park, no media availability

Days until: Saints @ Redskins 1; Redskins @ Panthers 8; Giants @ Redskins 15

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Raiders

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Raiders

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 26, six days before the Washington Redskins play Chiefs in Kansas City.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (10/23) 27
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 33

Last look at Redskins vs. Raiders

—I could fill up this entire post with numbers that demonstrate just how dominant the Redskins defense was on Sunday. Here’s one that impressed me—with the exception of two series that started with turnovers deep in Washington territory, the Raiders ran one play on the Redskins’ side of the field. Early in the second quarter, Derek Carr threw a short pass that Marshawn Lynch turned into an eight-yard gain to the Washington 48. On the next play, Kendall Fuller picked off Carr’s pass. That was it until Jamison Crowder muffed a punt, giving Oakland the ball at the Washington 21 with 47 seconds left in the third quarter.

Kirk Cousins passed for over 350 yards with three or more touchdowns and no interceptions for the fourth time as a Redskin. It is the first time Washington quarterback to do that more than once; Joe Theismann did it in 1982 and 1983. Colt McCoy and Mark Rypien did it once each. Cousins is the only one of the group to complete over 80 percent of his passes in such a game; he was 25 of 30, 83.3 percent.

RELATED: UPDATED WEEK 3 NFL POWER RANKINGS

—Again, there are plenty of numbers but what set this game apart was the confidence and attitude on display, particularly on defense. The images that stick in my mind are plays like D.J. Swearinger leveling Marshawn Lynch, Preston Smith just dismissing a Lynch stiff arm to get the stop on third and two, Montae Nicholson getting a textbook legal hit on Michael Crabtree and Zach Brown sending ball carriers to the ground with a vengeance.

—Some are wondering if Mack Brown should be the main backup at running back when Rob Kelley returns from his rib injury, which could be this week. Samaje Perine seemed to miss some openings and at times he seemed to go down with a one-arm tackle. And he fumbled the ball away. But on Sunday night Jay Gruden said that once Kelley is back, Perine will be the backup and Brown is likely to return to the game-day inactive list.

—Let this sink in for a minute—prior to last night’s Cowboys-Cardinals game, the Redskins were fifth in the NFL in rushing attempts (90) and sixth in rushing yards (409). They are on pace to have 480 rushing attempts for 2,180 yards. Last year they ran it 379 times for 1,696 yards.

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

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3 was awfully wacky, wasn't it?

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3 was awfully wacky, wasn't it?

After Week 2, it looked like the NFL was being divided into three tiers: The bottom feeders, the inconsistent squads and the leaders.

After Week 3, though, those tiers have largely fallen apart.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

Blowouts came out of nowhere. Favorites lost to underdogs. And Joe Flacco looked good! (OK, only the first two happened).

After a classically wacky week in the league, how have the power rankings shifted? Click the above or below link to find out.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS