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Where are we? The Redskins after nine games

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Where are we? The Redskins after nine games

Here is how the Redskins stand after nine games:

Record: 3-6
vs. NFC East: 0-1
vs. NFC: 3-4
Home: 1-3
Away: 2-3

Opposition cumulative record: 44-38-1
Cumulative of teams beaten: 15-13
Cumulative of teams lost to: 29-25-1
Record of teams remaining on schedule: 29-35

Offensive MVP (season to date) We will see if the Panthers and Steelers have found the key to stopping Robert Griffin III or whether a combination of a lot of dropped passes (vs. Pittsburgh) and being a little bit off in his accuracy (vs. Carolina) have contributed more to him coming back to earth. Still, he has been the man on offense all year and the main reason that they have a chance to win week after week.

Defensive MVP: I am going to have to leave this one vacant this week. Even though the defense was better against the Panthers—if you allow only 21 points your team should at least be competitive in the game—the unit’s record speaks for itself. While there have been some good individual performances in individual games, nobody has distinguished himself week in and week out.

Top three storylines:

Playoffs start now: If the Redskins want to make the postseason and avoid going into true “evaluation” mode, they can’t afford to lose another game. Running the table would be a very tall task when you consider the fact that they haven’t won more than two games in a row since 2008. But they are taking it one game at a time and they will see what they can do starting Sunday.

Kicking them while they’re down: The Eagles were in turmoil going into both of the games against Washington last year and both times the Redskins let them off the hook. But maybe those Eagles teams weren’t as bad as their record indicated. This time they aren’t facing Michael Vick and the Eagles have been outscored by 65 points this year, the worst scoring margin in the league. If the Redskins don’t win this one you have to wonder if they can ever be competitive in the division.

Rookie QB blues: The Redskins have lost their last eight games against rookie quarterbacks, a skid that goes back to 2006. They need to stop that streak this Sunday.

Next three games

Sunday vs. Eagles (3-6, tied for 3rd in NFC East)—The loser of this game has the NFC East basement all to itself.

Nov. 22 (Thanksgiving) @ Cowboys (4-5, second in NFC East)—The Redskins face a quick turnaround to face a team that may be putting it together at just the right time. Or, maybe the Cowboys are just setting up their fans for the crash and disappointment that seems to come every year.

Dec. 3 (Monday night) vs. Giants (6-4, first in NFC East)—The defending champs have been very beatable lately and they face a tough schedule down the stretch.

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Jay Gruden views Chris Thompson as the NFL's best third-down running back

Jay Gruden views Chris Thompson as the NFL's best third-down running back

In 2016, Chris Thompson simply needed to prove to Jay Gruden that he could handle 16 NFL games.

Now, looking ahead to 2017, the fifth-year running back hopes to show his head coach he can shoulder 16 NFL games and a larger workload.

"I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year," Thompson said Monday at the Redskins Charitable Golf Foundation. "[Gruden] knows now that I'm healthy and I can stay healthy, which I think that was one of his biggest concerns. So now he sees that I can handle the load, I think that I'll get a lot more opportunities this year."

Last season was by far the best in the 26-year-old's career. He played a full slate of games after playing in just 19 over his first three seasons combined, and he set career highs in rushing attempts (68), yards (356), receptions (49), receiving yards (349) and total touchdowns (5).

MORE REDSKINS: TEAM IS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE WITH PLANS FOR NEW STADIUM

He also held up well in pass protection, a key duty for him as the team's third-down running back. And it's all of those qualities — being able to contribute on handoffs and with catches while also providing help in keeping Kirk Cousins upright — that make him an excellent fit for a popular NFL duty.

The most excellent in that duty, actually, if you ask Gruden. 

"I think Chris Thompson's role is big," he said. "When you're talking about third downs, that's the most important down in football. There's nobody better as a third-down back in my opinion than Chris. He's got a huge role on this football team." 

Gruden went on to indicate that an increase in Thompson's responsibilities is likely coming, though No. 25 will still do the majority of his work when the offense needs him most.

"Whether he does some more stuff on first- and second-down will be determined," he said. "I'm sure he will. But he's so valuable on third-down that I gotta keep him in that role for now."

A 2013 fifth-round pick who came into the league with a history of injuries, Thompson has now fully gained the trust of his coaches and teammates. The 5-foot-8 running back may be small in stature, but the Redskins know he's not small in importance.  

RELATED: RANKING THE TOP ROOKIE QBS FOR FANTASY FOOTBALL

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Fantasy football: Ranking the top eight rookie quarterbacks in 2017

Fantasy football: Ranking the top eight rookie quarterbacks in 2017

Rookie camps are in the books as teams now move to organized team activities. Does that mean it's too early for fantasy football rankings? 

Probably, but seeing as the rookies are new to the scene, we might as well start projecting where and how they fit. 

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS

Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas were among the rookies who produced and then some in 2016.

Based on the early rounds of the 2017 NFL draft, there’s hope for even more first-year standouts.  

Starting with the Bears selecting quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall, 19 skill players were drafted in the first and second round.

That includes fellow first-round quarterback selections Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Several sleeper candidates followed. 

Here’s my look at the Elite Eight quarterbacks with the 2017 fantasy football season -- and beyond -- in mind.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS

2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings:

Running Backs - No. 1, Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

* Wide receivers - No. 1, Corey Davis, Titans