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Need to Know: This time, it's really a must-win for the Redskins

Need to Know: This time, it's really a must-win for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 7, the day the Washington Redskins visit the Minnesota Vikings.

This time, it's really a must win

After the Redskins lost their opener to the Eagles, some members of the media asked the players if their next game against the Packers was a “must-win”. No, the players said. It was too early.

The same line of questions came up after they lost in Green Bay and prepared to play the Lions. No, they said. Even though 0-3 was not a place where the defending division champs wanted to be, their season wasn’t over if they lost to Detroit.

And so on. Before virtually every game this season someone asked the “must-win” question. And the answer was usually no.

This week, the question wasn’t asked much if at all because the answer is obvious.

Tonight’s game against the Vikings is a must-win game.

For one thing, the Redskins are running out of games. Yes, they were 3-6 last year before embarking on their season-ending run to the division title and they would again be 3-6 if they lose this game. But they can’t keep digging a hole every year and then rely on being able to climb out of it. There is a reason that just four of the 110 teams that started 3-6 since 1990 have made the playoffs—it’s hard to do. The odds of pulling it off for the second year in a row are extremely daunting.

But the main reason they have to win tonight is because if they can’t beat the Vikings you have wonder who they can beat. Their season is in a free fall at 1-7. They have had a revolving door at quarterback; they have tried two different players to replace Christian Ponder but neither Matt Cassel nor Josh Freeman could play well enough to keep Ponder on the bench. They have running back Adrian Peterson and not much else on offense.

On the other side of ball then do have Jared Allen who once was a feared pass rusher. But this year he has given his team 4.5 sacks in exchange for a cap figure in excess of $17 million. Their defense is ranked 29th.

Their talent level is further depleted by injuries. Five Vikings have been ruled out of tonight’s game including a starting cornerback and safety on defense and their starting tight end and right tackle on offense. Meanwhile, the Redskins could dress and play all 53 players if the rules permitted.

In short, even though the Redskins are not exactly world beaters at 3-5, this game is a mismatch. Given the Vikings’ injuries the only position on the field where they have an advantage over the Redskins is at running back. And even there isn’t not a huge advantage; Peterson has just 25 more yards rushing this season than does Alfred Morris (711-686) and Morris has a considerably better average yards per carry (Morris 5.2, Peterson 4.6).

All that said, it’s an NFL game and anything can happen. If things don’t happen the right way for the Redskins tonight they will be 3-6 and a week of talking about another lost season will ensue. If they win they will move to 4-5 and will be able to sit back and see if they can get some help from the Saints (hosting the Cowboys) and the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers (hosting the Eagles). If those games turn out well for the Redskins they will be in second place just a half game out of the division lead.

But it all starts with tonight’s must-win game.

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins’ opponents in the games they have played so far have a cumulative record of 38-28. The teams they have beaten are 12-12 and the teams they lost to are 26-16.

Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 10; Monday night 49ers @ Redskins 18; Giants @ Redskins 24

—Today’s schedule: Redskins at Vikings 8:25.

In case you missed it

Tandler in Redskins Nation

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Final injury report: Three Redskins out for Sunday

Final injury report: Three Redskins out for Sunday

Redskins

Out

C Spencer Long (concussion)—He missed the second half of the Cardinals game and has been in the concussion protocol this week. John Sullivan will start in his place.

S Will Blackmon (concussion)—Blackmon also has been in the concussion protocol and has not practiced all week. Donte Whitner and Duke Ihenacho will handle the safety position.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the Arizona game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

G Shawn Lauvao (groin)—It was a surprise to see him watching practice on Wednesday as no injury had been reported for him. But he came in for treatment and did not practice on Wednesday and Thursday. If he can’t go, Arie Kouandjio will start at left guard.

OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Fortunately Trent Williams is back from his suspension; Nsekhe was the starter while he was out. If Nsekhe is out, Vinston Painter will be the swing backup tackle.

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—After missing last week’s game with a third-degree separation of the AC join in his left shoulder, Reed was able to practice on a limited basis this week. If range of motion is still an issue he could sit or play very limited snaps. If it’s a matter of pain tolerance he will be a full go.  

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Eagles.

DE Chris Baker (ankle)—Baker missed some practice this week but he should be able to go against the Eagles although his level of effectiveness will bear watching.

Also questionable for the Redskins: DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee), OLB Preston Smith (groin), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Derek Carrier (knee)

Eagles

Questionable

WR Jordan Matthews (ankle) and RB Ryan Matthews (knee) were full in practice all week and it seems likely that the Eagles’ leading receiver and rusher, respectively, will play on Sunday. Up in the air is the status of WR Dorial Green-Beckham (oblique), who missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) will miss his third straight game. He had a rough start in his NFL debut against the Redskins in Week 6 but he remained the starter until getting injured in Week 11. Since then the Eagles have moved LG Alan Barbre to right tackle with Stefen Wisniewski going in at left guard.

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - WR Ryan Grant opens up about good and bad of NFL life

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USA Today Sports

New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - WR Ryan Grant opens up about good and bad of NFL life

Ryan Grant generates a ton of reaction from Redskins fans - and it's not always postive. The third-year wideout sat down with JP Finlay to talk about the ups and downs of life in the NFL. 

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates