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Redskins vs. Steelers Bold Predictions

Redskins vs. Steelers Bold Predictions

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com

Last week, I went over some of the reasons why some fans thought that the Redskins would be able to win in Philadelphia last Sunday. There are some similar theories floating around out there this week:

  • Ben Roethlisberger is a rookie and he’s due to have a rookie-type game—While earlier I said that I wasn’t drop-dead impressed with Big Ben, this is more wishful thinking than logical analysis. In fact, one could argue that he had his rookie-type game last week when he took seven sacks, many of them not the fault of his line but of him holding on to the ball for too long, and fumbled once. His 15 for 21 passing for 138 yards looked like a rather efficient 6.6 yards per attempt, if you count in the sacks and the 54 yards lost on them the Steelers gained just 3.0 yards per pass play. Still, Roethlisberger had no interceptions and a similar performance could well be good enough to beat the Redskins.
  • This is a nothing game for the Steelers—If you’re going to lose a game, and this team isn’t going to go 15-1, the out of conference variety is the best kind to lose because it hurts you the least in the tiebreakers for home field advantage. Certainly, nobody thinks that Pittsburgh will go out and lose on purpose or anything like that, but Bill Cowher may want to pull back on the reigns a bit for this one. Again, this is wishful thinking. The Steelers will be more than ready enough to play.

All that being said, I think that the Redskins do have a chance in this one. The game matches the first- and second-ranked defenses in the NFL. That should equal a low-scoring affair and if that’s the case Washington will always be no more than one play away from being in it or even from winning it.

The question is, where will that big play come from?

  • Clinton Portis?—Although the Steelers have a tough run defense, Rudi Johnson did have some degree of success against them last week. Portis could bust one, but he’ll need more than the 17 carries he’s had each of the last two games in order to do it.
  • Patrick Ramsey?—As discussed in this space earlier this week, he’ll need Joe Gibbs to take the shackles off if he’s to make a game-winning play. I think that Gibbs will to some extent, but it’s not like Ramsey will be out there pitchin’ it around much.
  • Sean Taylor?—He has a pick in each of the past two games and last week he showed some great RAC ability. It’s only a matter of time until the gets one and takes it to the house.
  • Marcus Washington?—No doubt that it’s in Gregg Williams’ game plan to have Washington spending a lot of time in the Steeler backfield. Perhaps Washington can get the defender’s triple play and sack Roethlisberger, strip the ball away, and score a touchdown.

Out of these four, I’ll pick Taylor to make the big play, but I still don’t think it will be enough. The game will be competitive into the second half but the Steelers will hang on.

Pittsburgh 20, Washington 16

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Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

When you’re fighting for a playoff spot, it’s not only about what happens to you. It’s also about what happens to the teams you’re competing against for that playoff spot. And one of the Redskins’ main competitors got some very bad news this morning.

The Giants, who are in the No. 5 spot in the NFC, the first wild card spot, got word today that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has had sports hernia surgery. The recovery time is at least four weeks, probably more like six. The Giants’ season is likely to be over by the time six weeks elapse, barring a playoff run without one of their best defensive players.

Pierre-Paul has helped solidify what was a shaky Giants defense last year. He has seven sacks and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. He has been heating up down the stretch with 5.5 sacks in his last three games.

His loss is a big blow for the Giants. They are a game ahead of the Buccaneers, who hold the No. 6 spot, and a game and a half ahead of the Redskins, who are currently seventh.

The Redskins play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins have to pick up just one game on the Giants over the next three to have a shot at passing them in the season finale.

The chances of that happening looked pretty good with Washington playing playing three teams with losing records in the Eagles, Panthers, and Bears and the Giants going against division leaders Dallas and Detroit in addition to the Eagles. With the Giants now without Pierre-Paul, the Redskins’ probabilities got tilted in their direction a little bit more.

Just finishing ahead of the Giants wouldn’t guarantee a playoff spot but it would come close. It would mean that the Redskins would have at least nine wins and the Redskins’ tie means that two teams would have to get to 10 wins to knock them out of the playoffs. The Bucs have to win three more games to get to nine wins and the Packers and Vikings would have to run the table.

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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As the Redskins power run game vanished, so did their prospects for winning the game.

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