It’s Redskins Game Day! Hated rival Dallas Cowboys did a big favor to the Washington Redskins last night, handing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 26-20 loss. For the Redskins, the Bucs’ loss put them back in control of their own destiny. The Redskins sit back in the final Wild Card playoff spot and simply need to take care of business the next three weeks, starting tonight with the Carolina Panthers. Redskins win out, they are in the NFL Playoffs. They control their own fate.
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This Redskins Game Day … Take care of business
As stated above, the Washington Redskins are in the NFL playoffs if they take care of business the next three weeks. It really is that simple. As of now, they are in. Take care of business on the field, and for the first time since 1992, the Redskins will be in the playoffs in consecutive seasons. It starts tonight with a Monday night showdown with the Carolina Panthers. As for the Panthers, they lost in the Super Bowl to Denver last season, but failed to make the playoffs this year. The two Monday night teams are in very different situations. It’s a must win for these Redskins. Period.
Redskins CB Josh Norman will face his former team for the first time tonight. The Panthers pass defense has suffered without Norman and Norman has been superb for Washington. Norman’s departure from Carolina was contentious. He made that well know throughout the offseason. For the Redskins, GM Scot McCloughan swooped in and made Norman the highest paid cornerback in the NFL, inking Norman to a five-year deal for $75 million. Norman has only been targeted 20 times this season. Will Cam Newton and the Panthers target Norman tonight? The problem for the Redskins secondary was not resolved with the signing of Norman. They have struggled opposite side Norman, with Bashaud Breeland struggling and the Redskins getting poor play from their safeties. Media eyes will be on Norman’s first matchup against his former team, but the bigger story lingers on Norman’s opposite side.
Redskins Offensive Power
The Redskins have an opportunity and a need for the NFL’s third ranked offense to shine on prime time television. QB Kirk Cousins has the third most passings yards in the NFL. He will be facing the worst pass defense in football. Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay has preferred the pass this season and given the defensive situation with Carolina, that likely will not change tonight. Cousins needs just 22 passing yards to break his own single season Redskins record for yards passed in a single season. The key to Cousins’ success this season has been solid accuracy, spreading the football around, and limiting mistakes and turnovers. They need that triple combination this evening. The Redskins will look to their trio of receiver to produce big plays. DeSean Jackson has the knack for the deep ball and hit it last week again the Eagles. Will he get one tonight? Pierre Garcon has become the most consistent and favorite target for Kirk Cousins. That will continue. The bigger question is Jamison Crowder. He is such a threat and weapon and leads the Redskins with 804 yards. However, the past two weeks, Crowder has a combined five receptions. A big game for Crowder could be on the horizon against this secondary.
Redskins struggling defense
The Redskins definitely need to step up on defense. It has been an Achilles Heel for them all season. Essentially, the recipe for success for the Redskins has been to pile up more points than their defense allows, which can be difficult. If the Redskins make the playoffs and wants playoff success, they need to get better on defense. The defense will be without their signal caller Will Compton. Second year linebacker Martrell Spaight takes over for Compton and has a golden opportunity to assert himself in this defense. It’s a big assignment for Spaight and the spot light will be on him in one of the most important games of the season with a national audience. It is also Spaight’s first NFL start. The Redskins will also look to contain and pressure QB Cam Newton. That pressure will be sought from Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, Chris Baker, and Ziggy Hood.
QB Nate Sudfield
WR Rashad Ross
RB Matt Jones
LB S’ua Cravens
LB Will Compton
OT Vinston Painter
Obviously the two big ones here are on the already porous Redskins defense. The Redskins will be without LB will Compton and rookie S’ua Cravens. Cravens is a big loss. The Redskins will turn to DeShazor Everett. Everett picked off his first pass last week, but also had two costly penalties.
For the Panthers, LB Luke Kuechly has cleared NFL concussion protocol, but is being smart and holding himself out of this game, looking long term. That is great news for the Redskins.