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Redskins-Broncos: 5 keys and a prediction

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Redskins-Broncos: 5 keys and a prediction

Five things to look for in Redskins vs. Broncos plus a prediction:

1. This could probably go into every game preview in this and every other season but turnovers will be critical. The Broncos are plus-7 in the takeaway-giveaway ratio while the Redskins are at minus-1. Denver lost the turnover battle against the Colts on Sunday, giving it away three times and getting just one takeaway. The Broncos also lost the ball when Peyton Manning was sacked and the ball went out of the end zone for a safety. Not coincidentally, that game is the Broncos’ only loss.

2. Redskins fans will probably be relieved if the game is close at halftime, but if that’s the case it’s a typical Broncos game. Denver has outscored its opponents by just a combined 24 points in the first halves of their games (128-104). That means their average lead at halftime has been just three or four points. But Denver blows the doors off of the other team in the second half, piling up a margin of 77 points (170-93, 11 points/game). So root for the Redskins to have a solid halftime lead and maybe they will be able to hang on.

3. There is simply no excuse for the Redskins to kick to Trindon Holliday. Last week Devin Hester had a flashback to his former consistent brilliance. Holliday is in his prime right now. He has a touchdown on punt returns and he averaged 11.4 yards a pop. His kickoff return stat line features a 105-yard TD return and a dazzling 34.9-yard average.

4. The Denver running backs aren’t much to be concerned about as the team averages just 3.8 yards per rush. But running just isn’t a sidelight to Peyton Manning’s passing. They have run the ball 200 times (the league average per team is 178) and Knowshawn Moreno has a nose for the end zone with eight touchdown carries. It seems that whenever a team starts getting mesmerized by Manning along comes Moreno or Monte Ball to pop a run for a key first down. They probably aren’t going to get loose for a long run—the long run among the RB’s is just 25 yards—but their pieces to the puzzle that has the Broncos on pace to shatter the all-time single season scoring record.

5. Can the Redskins’ pass rush get to Manning? The Colts sacked him four times last Sunday and there’s no doubt that the Redskins will be taking a good, long look at the film from that game. One of the most amazing aspect of Manning’s and the Colts’ season on offense has been the fact that Ryan Clady, who has three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro honors on his resume, was able to play in just the first two games before going out for the season with a foot injury. Chris Clark, an undrafted four-year veteran, has filled in and the offense hasn’t missed a beat. Perhaps there is a way to exploit that matchup with Brian Orakpo and perhaps another pass rusher like Darryl Tapp or Rob Jackson.

I think that the Redskins can make this one interesting and they have a very outside chance of pulling off the upset. But it’s too small a chance for me to predict it.

Broncos 45, Redskins 35

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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

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Redskins vs. Cardinals inactives: Reed out as expected

Redskins vs. Cardinals inactives: Reed out as expected

GLENDALE, AZ—As expected, the Redskins will be without star tight end Jordan Reed today against the Cardinals.

He is inactive due to a third-degree AC joint sprain in his left shoulder.

Reed gutted it out and played the second half on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas after being injured in the first but during the week he didn’t practice at all couldn’t regain the range of motion needed to play today.

Coach Jay Gruden said on Friday that the team is planning on having Reed play next week against the Eagles.

For this week, Vernon Davis will step into the starting role.

Also inactive is reserve defensive lineman Anthony Lanier, who was kicked in the lower leg in Dallas. Gruden said that the swelling was still too severe for him to be able to play.

LIVE BLOG: WEEK 13 REDSKINS VS. CARDINALS

The Redskins’ other inactive players today:

  • QB Nate Sudfeld
  • DL AJ Francis
  • RB Matt Jones
  • WR Rashad Ross
  • DB Dashaun Phillips