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Redskins-Chargers: Five keys and a prediction

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Redskins-Chargers: Five keys and a prediction

Five keys to the Redskins-Chargers game plus a prediction.

1. The Chargers are 23rd in the league in total defense but they are ninth in points allowed. That can often indicate a team that’s good taking the ball away. That’s not the case here as San Diego has just four takeaways all year, the fewest in the league. But the Chargers are the seventh-best defense in the red zone, allowing opponents to score touchdown on just 47 percent of their trips inside the 20. The Redskins will need to find a way to get into the end zone when they have the opportunity.

2. Which version of Robert Griffin III are we going to get? The one who completed 49.2 percent of his passes combined against the Broncos and Cowboys, posting the two worst passer ratings of his career in the process? Or one more like the QB we saw against the Bears who posted a 105 rating and led a last-minute drive for a game-winning touchdown? The Chargers’ defense has allowed opposing passers a rating of 102.1, 29th in the NFL so Griffin should have a chance at having a solid game.

3. Chargers QB Philip Rivers is second in the NFL with a passer rating of 111.1. The schedule makers have done the Redskins no favors so far this season when it comes to facing quality quarterbacks. By the end of Sunday’s game the Redskins will have played eight games and five of them will have been against quarterbacks with passer ratings currently ranked in the top nine. In addition to Rivers, they have already gone up against Peyton Manning (119.4 rating, 1st in NFL), Aaron Rodgers (108.0, 4th), Tony Romo (101.7, 5th), and Matthew Stafford (94.7, 9th). Fortunately, the only top-10 passer they face for the rest of the year is the rematch with Romo and the Cowboys in Week 16.

4. As they do every game, the Redskins will go into this contest with stopping the run on the top of their defensive priorities list. The Chargers are an OK running team ranking 15th in terms of overall yardage and 20th in yards per carry with 3.8. Ryan Matthews has been healthy and while he may never justify his selection with the 12th overall pick in the draft (2010) he has been productive, gaining 446 yards on 110 carries (4.1 per carry). His backup, Danny Woodhead, gains most of his yardage via the pass; he has 40 receptions for 314 yards.

5. Can the Redskins regain their home-field advantage? They dropped their first two home games this year before sending the crowd home happy after the Bears game. If they want to make a playoff run they are going to have to make some hay at FedEx Field. With home meetings with the 49ers and Chiefs upcoming, the Redskins need to grab this home game.

I don’t think that it will be easy but I think that Griffin will come through with a solid performance, the defense will bottle up the run and they will survive the dink and dunk attack of Rivers.

Redskins 28, Chargers 24

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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