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Who Do the Redskins Want in the First Round of the NFL Playoffs?

Sunday’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings will ultimately declare the NFC North division champion, while also helping to determine who the Redskins host in the first round of the playoffs.

The Seattle Seahawks can also play into the equation depending on the outcome of their road game in Arizona against the Cardinals this weekend.

The scenario looks something like this:

If GB wins and SEA wins:
• GB No. 3, WAS No. 4, SEA No. 5, MIN No. 6

If GB wins and SEA loss/tie:
• GB No. 3, WAS No. 4, MIN No. 5, SEA No. 6

If GB ties:
• GB No. 3, WAS No. 4, MIN No. 5, SEA No. 6

If MIN wins:
• MIN No. 3, WAS No. 4, GB No. 5, SEA No. 6

The question then becomes: who are the Redskins rooting for?

Also, before anyone blasts me for thinking too highly of a team that won a bad division and for getting my hopes up for a possible trip to the second round, please shut up. As they say, any given Sunday, my friend. And if you haven’t noticed, the Redskins are kind of on a heater, which also recalls a common theme come playoff time (in nearly every sport): this team is hitting their stride at just the right time.

On with it!

 

The Case for Why We Want Seattle

It’s safe to assume there’s no such thing as actually wanting to play Seattle, but more on that later.

Sure the Seahawks just lost to Case Keenum and the Rams in front of their storied 12th Man crowd, but it’s hard to argue they’re not the most talented and threatening squad of the three-team bunch. Russell Wilson has grown as a pocket passer, dishing out 21 touchdown passes to just one interception over his last six games, yet he still continues to gash opposing defenses with his legs. Meanwhile, Doug Baldwin is arguably the hottest receiver in the league at the moment, hauling in 29 catches for nearly 500 yards and ELEVEN MOTHER FREAKIN’ TOUCHDOWNS in his last five games.

On the other side of the ball, that Seattle defense remains a massive bump in the road for opposing offenses, as they rank third in rushing yards allowed, second in passing yards allowed, and third in points allowed.

Is Kirk Cousins’ recent roll enough to match the heater that Seattle seems to be on?

 

The Case for Green Bay

For obvious reasons, no one really wants to face Aaron Rodgers. That said, the Packers aren’t exactly oozing with receiving talent. Is Randall Cobb good? Absolutely. Can others like Richard Rodgers and James Jones turn in good games? Yes. But it’s a receiving corps that at least appears manageable.

On defense, the Packers have been quite hawkish, allowing just 20 passing touchdowns and picking off 15 balls this season through 15 games. They’re not nearly as strong against the run, having given up the seventh-most rushing touchdowns and allowing 4.5 yards per carry, but that sort of thing shouldn’t necessarily excite a Redskins rushing attack with the dependency of a three-legged chair.

 

The Case for Minnesota

Although Teddy Bridgewater seems to be heating up as of late (six touchdowns and no picks over his last three games), the Vikings have gotten here by way of head coach Mike Zimmer (luv u, bruh) and their defense. Minnesota ranks sixth in points allowed this season, as well as sixth in sack percentage.

However, outside of those numbers, Minny’s defense doesn’t appear juggernautish. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 64 percent of their passes and the Vikings have allowed 23 passing touchdowns through 15 games. While they do get after the quarterback, their 20 takeaways are below average (21.5) for the league, and they’re allowing better than 110 yards per game on the ground at an average clip of 4.3 yards. Clearly the Vikings defense is doing things right — their record tells us as much — but how scary are they?

On offense, Adrian Peterson remains a beast, averaging 94.5 yards per game (good for fourth-best of his career) and having already found paydirt ten times. It’s obvious the Redskins would have their hands full with Peterson, but the Vikings passing attack isn’t exactly threatening. They’re third-worst behind only the carousels of St. Louis and Dallas in terms of passing touchdowns, they’re second to last in passing yards, and they’ve allowed the eighth-most sacks on the season.

 

Listed and Preferred 

If we’re talking about who I’d like to play in order of preference, here’t goes:

1. Minnesota

Minnesota feels like the least threatening. Teddy B is smooth as eggs, but he’s still young and his numbers aren’t nearly threatening enough to put him into the stratosphere of, say, Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. Likewise, Bridgewater’s pass-catching targets are nothing to fear. While rookie Stefon Diggs will always have a special place in my heart, he’s the team’s leading receiver with 51 catches for 712 yards and four scores in just 12 games. Are the likes of Mike Wallace, Jarius Wright, and Kyle Rudolph containable? Um, yes.

Gimme Kirk Cousins’ and a white-hot shot at overcoming a disciplined and well-coached Minnesota defense. Work to keep Adrian Peterson right around the 100-yard mark to avoid any melee, and don’t make any bonehead plays in the back end of the defense to give the Vikings quick scores via the sure-to-one-day-be-feared Bridgewater-to-Diggs connection.

2. Green Bay

Nobody wants to play Aaron Rodgers, but if you have to, it might as well be at home and when he’s without Jordy Nelson, right?

No one’s here to argue that Green Bay isn’t good, but how special are they? Are they in the conversation for best team in the NFC? They split with the Bears and Lions and barely got past the Raiders.

Since starting the season 6-0, the Pack haven’t looked the same after dropping five of nine following their bye week. Rodgers is scary, but Green Bay is beatable.

3. Seattle

The Seahawks are so close to being atop this list for the simple reasons of 1) revenge and 2) the possibility of Trent Williams laying his five fingers to the cold cheek of one Richard Sherman just one more time1. Outside of that, however, Seattle seems to provide the Redskins with the steepest uphill climb.

THAT SAID (and here’s where you blast the horns, yell “homer”, and advise me to slow down with my excitement before crushing myself with disappointment), the Seahawks’ latest 5-2 run following their bye week perhaps isn’t as crazy/sexy/cool2 as you may think.

A blowout win over Minnesota on the road? Word. Losing to Arizona by a touchdown in front of your home crowd? Mmk. Blowout wins over Baltimore and Cleveland? What about last week’s loss to the Rams?

Again, I hate to sound like the guy who shrugs and looks forward to the next game because his favorite team somehow finished .500 and made its way into the playoffs — and I acknowledge that Seattle is likely the best of the bunch — but to say I’d dread having another shot at the Seahawks at home in the first round of the playoffs would be a lie.

Postgame Notes and React: Redskins v. Bills

elaine

In the hours following a Redskins game, thoughts and ideas and assumptions run rampant through the mind of a Washington fan, forcing a scattered and cloudy backdrop between the ears. 

Here are my initial notes following the Redskins’ 35-25 win over the Buffalo Bills.  

* * *

— Two wins in a row! Hooray!

— This was probably the Redskins’ most complete game of the season. Outside of a handful of plays, the Redskins played really good football across all three teams.

— Off the top of my head, that handful of plays included the fumbled punt by Jamison Crowder and all three of the Bills’ touchdowns, which included two long balls to Sammy Watkins (one of which came in the final minutes of the game) and backup running back Mike Gillislee busting a 60-yard run in the third quarter.

— The Redskins only lost SIX yards on five penalties in the game, which, um, helps.

— Washington actually had some success on the ground — 27 rushes for 123 yards and a score (that came from Kirk Cousins). Alfred Morris had his best game of the season with 84 yards on just 14 carries and at times he appeared like the Alf of seasons past.

— When DeSean Jackson (who had also had his best game of the season with six catches for 153 yards and a touchdown) and Jordan Reed are firing on all cylinders, Washington’s offense is really, really good.

— The Redskins defense had a tall task against a dual-threat quarterback like Tyrod Taylor under center and they ended up sacking him five times. Sure, Taylor gashed ’em (nine carries for 79 yards), but they deserve credit for a job (pretty) well done.

— Speaking of deserved credit, that goal line stand late in the second quarter was a thing of beauty. It came following Crowder’s fumble (which could have very well ended in points for the Redskins before the half) and the Bills had six plays from inside the six-yard line. Washington didn’t allow a single point.

— (drumroll) Kiiiiirrrrrrk Cousins! Who finished just shy of a perfect quarterback rating thanks to going 22-of-28 for 319 yards and four touchdowns (with a 13-yard rushing touchdown to boot). Others will hate on him, even still, but Cousins has gone 4-2 over his last six games, has completed nearly 75 percent of his passes, and has thrown a dozen touchdowns to just two interceptions. At the very least, admit progress, guys.

— It was just a good team win. Like Jay Gruden said after the game, it was the type of contest that makes it hard to hand out a game ball following the final whistle because so many guys played so well and played such a huge role in the victory. It was a lot of fun to watch.

— Some how, some way, the Redskins are in the playoff hunt, have their sights set on a division title, and realistically control their own destiny. What a world.

Daily Fantasy 2015 Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 15

DFS Bargain Shopper Cover Photo

In the world of daily fantasy sports, finding the best bargains can lead you to the promise land of those jubilant $3.60 pots at the end of the pretend football rainbow.

These are my bargain bin dumpster dives for the upcoming NFL week.

* * *

Quarterback

Alex Smith ($5,100) @ BAL

Set it and forget it this week with Alex Smith, who’d shock the world if he notched anything less than 15 points on Sunday. Certainly you’re shooting for more — and it’s clearly attainable against this Baltimore secondary — but somewhere in the 15-18 point range is comfortable enough at this price in exchange for the reassurance and roster flexibility elsewhere.

Jay Cutler ($5,300) @ MIN

Last week’s 23 points marked Jay Cutler’s first 20+ point game in four weeks and I’ll lazily use that as a kick in the butt in terms of potential fantasy output this Sunday. Smokin’ Jay put up 19.5 against the Vikings the last time these two played each other in Week 8 and I can see something similar again this week. There’s a low total on this one (42.5)1 but I like the Bears as six-point road dogs and the idea of Cutler slingin’ it here, there, and everywhere to keep his squad in the game.

 

 

Running Back

Gio Bernard ($4,500) @ SF

Not many have burned me quite like Gio Bernard this season, which is likely commonplace for anyone having played him following Week 6 and missing out on that 25-point performance against Arizona in Week 11. Since the Bengals’ bye week, Bernard has logged single-digit outputs in five of seven games, which doesn’t exactly give you the warm and fuzzies. That said, the Niners have given up over 150 rushing yards in three of their last four games (including totals of 230 and 255) and the Bengals will look to support backup quarterback A.J. McCarron by way of the running game following the injury to Andy Dalton. It may not be the safest play, but it’s upside that won’t cost you too much.

Denard Robinson ($4,600) v. ATL

Assuming T.J. Yeldon (who’s listed at $4,900) doesn’t play, Denard Robinson would be next in line for the Jaguars running back spot, and that’s good news going against a Falcons defense that has allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns this season. If Yeldon does happen to play, I like his chances as well against this Atlanta side.

 

 

Wide Receiver

Doug Baldwin ($5,800) v. CLE

There may not be a hotter receiver than Doug Baldwin, who’s hauled in 17 catches for 321 yards and EIGHT touchdowns in his last three games. The train likely slows down at some point, but I’ll take my chances against this unimpressive Browns defense that allows the second-most net yards per pass attempt and eighth-most receiving touchdowns in the league.

Jeremy Maclin ($5,500) @ BAL

His 25+ point average over his last three games consists of 29.5- and 34-point totals, but that’s the kind of potential Jeremy Maclin has against this Baltimore secondary this week. That Alex Smith/Jeremy Maclin stack from Week 12 against Buffalo spit out 55 points, and the Ravens are more than capable of being gashed in similar (or worse) fashion. The price is right with Maclin this Sunday.

Golden Tate ($5,500) @ NO

Only three single-digit totals all season, none of which have come since Week 7, and Golden Tate has cemented himself as a pretty comfortable 13-pointish player every week. His matchup against New Orleans in a primetime Monday spot comes with the highest total (51) of the week, as well as the Lions being a three-point road dog. Combine that with a cruddy Saints defense that allows the third-most passing yards and by far the most passing touchdowns (36!) in the league, and Tate’s matchup looks more like a steal than a bargain.

 

 

Tight End

Jordan Reed ($5,900) v. BUF

The matchup doesn’t appear ideal on paper, but Jordan Reed’s volume alone is worth the price. Sure he can lay a dud when the opposing coverage is just right, but in most cases Reed is uncoverable against linebackers and has huge value as Kirk Cousins’ go-to guy.

Gary Barnidge ($5,000) @ SEA

Everything that can be said about Gary Barnidge has already been done — the dude is money. He’s logged at least 11 points in each of his last four games, including a 19-point performance against San Fran last week. He’s shown his versatility regardless of what quarterback the Browns throw out there and he has to be a piece of any offensive effort to compete in a Cleveland football game. The Browns are unsurprisingly huge road dogs in this one and Johnny Football will have no choice but to sling it.

Ben Watson ($4,800) v. DET

 

Lots of points on Monday night and we’ve seen Drew Brees favor his tight end more than a few times. The Lions aren’t threatening enough to move anyone off Benjamin Watson at this number and you’re banking on a shootout in this one.

Defense 

Chiefs ($3,700) @ BAL

I’m going for the splurge this week against Baltimore and the Fighting Jimmy Clausens.

Postgame Notes and React: Redskins v. Bears

uh yeah

In the hours following a Redskins game, thoughts and ideas and assumptions run rampant through the mind of a Washington fan, forcing a scattered and cloudy backdrop between the ears. 

Here are my initial notes following the Redskins’ 24-21 win over the Chicago Bears. 

* * *

— ROAD WIN! The Redskins’ first of the season. Although their winless streak away from home could very well (and likely) be more about opponent than geographical location, it’s still nice to get the monkey off their back.

— The Redskins came out firing in the first quarter and looked well in control of the game, but they didn’t close the first half with the same kind of pop. It didn’t take long for the Bears to get back into it (scoring a touchdown just before half) and wouldn’t ya know it, the Redskins would make us all sweat a little more than we probably needed to.

— This was a good game for Kirk Cousins. Were there some ‘oh shit’ moments? For sure — like the heave on 3rd-and-6 that bounced off Jordan Reed’s hands and then a defender’s hands before falling into the hands of Matt Jones (who proceeded to release the ball prior to being touched down, yet was lucky enough to have the ball bounce directly back into his arms). The interception was a bad one, too. Not sure Cousins could excuse that one with anything other than ‘didn’t see him’, but interceptions happen and that was his first in three weeks. The key part of his performance was the command and confidence, which is a huge step in the right direction when you compare it to the quarterback’s play last season.

— Thank you, Jordan Reed for being an absolute manimal in this game. Reed caught nine balls (on nine targets) for 120 yards and a touchdown. He was literally unstoppable. And that kind of thing can happen in most weeks because Reed is such an absurd mismatch against a linebacker. When he’s healthy (and he has been ever since the rumors started swirling that he may be a softy), Reed is a force that’s incredibly hard to contain and one that opposing defenses need to gameplan for.

— A nice day for the Redskins on third down, finishing the game 7-for-12. On the other hand, not a good day in terms of discipline, as the Redskins were penalized eight times for 63 yards.

— Speaking of penalties — and I hate to say it because he’s such an absolute stud — Trent Williams didn’t have a great game. He had the tall task of handling Willie Young, which isn’t easy, but he was also called for a couple penalties throughout the game that hurt the Redskins in the midst of a drive. Going into this game Williams hadn’t let up a sack all season, and I wonder if the stats will change following this game (Young got around Williams, but if I remember right Cousins held onto the ball a little too long and there was pressure from other areas, so not sure how they’ll score that).

— Washington’s run game was, uh, better, I guess? But it still wasn’t good. 33 runs for 99 yards and two scores, one of which was a Kirk Cousins’ keeper from a couple yards out, and the other a one-yard punch by Alfred Morris. They stayed true to the ground game and I guess establishing any sort of threat by way of a running back is key.

— There was lots of talk about predictable playcalling by offensive coordinator Sean McVay, specifically on first down, and that didn’t change all that much in this game (although it admittedly felt a little different). When it came to first downs faced, the Redskins ran it 17 times and threw it 12 times, meaning they ran the ball 58 percent of the time on first down.

— Tight end Derek Carrier took a nasty hit to his right knee and didn’t return to the game. He’ll receive an MRI on Monday, but it certainly doesn’t look good. And despite him being a second-stringer, Carrier is an important piece because the Redskins are so miserably thin at tight end. Those ugly Tom Compton-Ty Nsekhe packages that we all screamed about last week? Yeah, those are a result of having no tight ends on the roster after Jordan Reed. You need tight ends who can at least threaten to catch the ball down field and Carrier offers that. If he’s out, I’d bang the table for Je’Ron Hamm (which won’t happen) and the Redskins will continue to struggle in that area.

— It was nice to see Pot Roast getting up and through the line. Not only did he record a sack, but he was penetrating and moving the line — the exact stuff we expected out of him.

— Not sure if others will agree but it felt like Ryan Kerrigan was held quite a bit on Sunday, all/most of which wasn’t called.

— On that long ball prayer to Alshon Jeffrey late in the game, my original guess was that responsibility fell on DeAngelo Hall. I was wrong. It’s Cover-3 and Quinton Dunbar should’ve taken the wheel route (Jeffery), Hall the post (which he did). ESPN 980 beat reporter Craig Hoffman helped clear that up for me. There was also another third down for the Bears late in the game in which Jay Cutler ultimately tossed out an ugly pass to the right, but had he looked middle, he had a wide-open receiver thanks to poor coverage from Hall. Unlike last week, not a great game for Hall in Chicago.

— Assuming all the screaming and reassigning at the line was correct/accurate/intelligent, I was impressed with linebacker Will Compton in that regard. He may not be a world-beater, but he’s a solid player and a guy who can be a cog with better surrounding pieces.

— That sack/fumble play by Trent Murphy who came off the edge and nearly took off Jay Cutler’s head and shoulders. Ayyyyeeeee.

— Naturally the Redskins took that gift of a turnover, accrued four total yards, and punted. The lack of points off turnovers for this Washington team is awful.

— The Bears may have a losing record, but this wasn’t an easy game. Some grit was required and the Redskins gave it. They were far from perfect, but they battled, they held tough, and they may or may not have paid Robbie Gould to shank that 50-yarder to end the game. Either way, we’ll take it.

Daily Fantasy 2015 Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 14

DFS Bargain Shopper Cover Photo

In the world of daily fantasy sports, finding the best bargains can lead you to the promise land of those jubilant $3.60 pots at the end of the pretend football rainbow.

These are my bargain bin dumpster dives for the upcoming NFL week.

* * *

Quarterback

Jameis Winston ($5,500) v. NO

The Fighting Lovies have been on quite the tear as of late and rookie Jameis Winston is putting together a pretty nice campaign, including an average of 21.6 FPPG over his last three games. The Saints defense struggles to stop anything nowadays and Winston has the ceiling to really reward owners this week in a critical division matchup.

Blake Bortles ($6,000) v. IND

Despite Blake Bortles averaging nearly 22 FPPG this season, I still seem to always catch him on his down weeks. But those emotional letdowns won’t stop me from calling him a good play this Sunday against a Colts team that looks more like that shrug emoticon1 than a consistent football team. The last time these two teams played in Week 4, Bortles Service was provided to the tune of 19 points, and he’s only gotten better since then (we think). There aren’t many bargain passers this weekend, but Bortles makes the cut.

 

Running Back

T.J. Yeldon ($4,900) v. IND

He’s only posted a single-digit total twice this season and he’s coming off his best game of the season last week (23.6 FP), making T.J. Yeldon a strong play this Sunday against a Colts team he put up 16 points against the last time they faced each other. Yeldon has become a staple this season as a bargain bin player, never having exceeded the $5,000 mark and remaining a key piece in the Jaguars offense.

Jonathan Stewart ($5,800) v. ATL

Jonathan Stewart finds himself in the bargain bin for a second straight week, although he’ll cost you around $500 more this Sunday after a 19-point outing against the Saints last week. The Panthers are favored by more than a touchdown in this game and the total (46.5) is suitable.

Shaun Draughn ($4,800) v. CLE

After turning in a bargain bin homerun last week (19 points on $4k), Shaun Draughn is back going against one of his former teams. The line in this game (41) isn’t great, but the 49er’s are a slight favorite at home against a Browns squad led by Johnny Manziel. Cleveland has been bad against the run this season and Draughn has been a *cringes* reliable option as of late in PPR formats.

 

Wide Receiver

Travis Benjamin ($5,000) v. SF

There’s a connection between Johnny Manziel and Travis Benjamin that I covet in fantasy football and that’s the whole purpose of the play. The line doesn’t necessarily serve as ammo to roster Benjamin, but a big play for a score is all you’re looking for here. He’ll grab some short-yardage stuff, too. It’s undoubtedly a gamble, but one that pays well when it hits.

DeVante Parker ($4,000) v. NYG

Is DeVante Parker finally here? That’s probably a better question for dyno league owners at this point. As for DFS, the rookie is certainly an intriguing roster move as of late. He’s hauled in seven passes for 143 yards, two scores, and more than 33 fantasy points over his last two games and the Dolphins host a Giants secondary that consists of absolutely nothing outside of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie this Sunday. The Dolphins offense isn’t exactly trustworthy (see: last week), but Parker is getting more involved and the matchup looks good on paper.

 

Tight End

Travis Kelce ($4,700) v. SD

Inconsistent. I get it. Travis Kelce has all the potential in the world, yet his 13.2 FPPG seems underwhelming and three of his last four games have resulted in single-digit outputs. Not great. But the price is too good. San Diego is a 10-point road dog in this one and the Chiefs are 6-0 ATS over their last six games. Those points have to come from somewhere. Here’s to hoping for less Jeremy Maclin and more Rick Flair touchdown celebrations.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins ($2,700) v. NO

The opponent is ideal, the Bucs are rolling, and this will mark Austin Seferian-Jenkins second game back following a long injury break. Last week’s snap count was nothing to get excited over, but ASJ was at least targeted quite a bit relevant to his playing time. So long as ASJ gets on the field, this is the highest-lined game of the weekend (50.5) and you have to love large targets on the opposite end of Jameis Winston passes.

 

Defense 

Redskins ($2,600) @ CHI

Who knows what’s happening or why the Redskins defense is suddenly beginning to perform, but they’re averaging just shy of 10 FPPG over their last four and we’ve all seen Smokin’ Jay Cutler give zero shits about throwing the ball to the opposing team in games past. At this price point — and given the Redskins’ recent run of decency — it’s hard to lose out with the play.

Postgame Notes and React: Redskins v. Cowboys

disappointed

In the hours following a Redskins game, thoughts and ideas and assumptions run rampant through the mind of a Washington fan, forcing a scattered and cloudy backdrop between the ears. 

Here are my initial notes following the Redskins’ 19-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. 

* * *

— You’ve seen the DeSean Jackson punt return attempt by now, so no need to describe the play. However, situational football is a real thing and Jackson gave zero f-cks about any of it. You’re sure to hear something along the lines of, “Well that’s why DeSean was in the game — to make a play — and that’s the risk you take.”

The risk you take?!

The Redskins WERE NOT LOSING at this point. If the Redskins are down a touchdown with under two minutes to go, sure, let DeSean go nuts. But that wasn’t the case. The game was tied. If the homerun isn’t there, go down. Go out of bounds. Don’t lose 22 yards, fumble the football, and hand the Cowboys the game1.

There is no defense of DeSean Jackson in this spot. None. It was a terrible decision and play.

— And to add to that note, his touchdown to tie the game, while great, was a wash. That could’ve been the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute to go had he not done what he did on that punt return attempt.

…which went something like this…

— The Redskins run game continued to struggle on Monday night. 26 rushes for 73 yards and the longest scamper was a bumbling Matt Jones 10-yarder. No run game affects the rest of the offense and it’s bad enough at this point to just say ‘screw it’ and start passing on every down.

— Which, by the way, begs the question: why don’t the Redskins run more bootlegs? ESPN showed a graphic last night that ranked Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 quarterback in the league on bootleg action plays2, yet Jay Gruden and the coaching staff appear to believe running more than a few bootlegs in a game are against the rules. Do. What. Works. For. You.

— The offensive playcalling in general is so ‘meh’. Run more boots, run the read option (which would’ve been ideal against the Cowboys’ aggressiveness), go with more screens, trust your man-to-man coverage and take your shots. Ugh.

— The Cowboys defense was extremely aggressive on Monday night and that was clearly a part of their game plan. Lots of blitzes and an ongoing Greg Hardy stunt that Washington coaches clearly couldn’t counter. The Redskins interior offensive line wasn’t good, they had literally no answer for Dallas linebacker Sean Lee, and they made defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence look like a maniac.

Kirk Cousins didn’t have his best game. In fact, early on, both he and Matt Cassel looked off rhythm and quite jittery, helping to make the first quarter and a half (or so) an ugly snoozer. Cousins seemed hesitant to take shots down field (missed DeSean Jackson on a couple) and when he did take shots, he missed. That said, Cousins played well enough to win the game. And when you take into account an aggressive pass rush that the offensive line couldn’t handle and virtually no running game, going 22-for-31 for 219 and a touchdown with no turnovers isn’t the worst stat line to walk away with.

— Oh, and by the way, Cousins and the offense were efficient and effective on bootlegs and on plays in which they shifted the pocket outside. But, okay — please don’t run too many bootlegs, Jay Gruden and Sean McVay.

— NINE PENALTIES FOR 73 YARDS. And a handful of them were in awful spots that in turn put the Redskins well behind the eight ball. As I’ve said all season, this Redskins team IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH to work itself out of a game when they constantly shoot themselves in the foot.

— That said, the officiating in this game was infuriating. The chop-block call on Ryan Grant to completely obliterate a decent looking Redskins drive was utter bullshit. And the pass interference call on Quinton Dunbar against Dez Bryant was more contact from Bryant (the veteran) than Dunbar (the undrafted rookie). It seemed as if the zebras got together before the game and informed one another that they would be the stars of the game.

— The Cowboys had THREE turnovers in this game and the Redskins offense managed three points of them….NOT VERY GOOD, BOB.

— And this a good spot to tip a hat to the Redskins defense. Good looks, flying around, lots of energy. Sure they were up against Matt Cassel, but they deserve credit for handling their business. They held the Cowboys to 317 total yards, limited them to 1-of-9 on third down, and turned ’em over three times.

— By the way, Mason Foster — who’s filling in for the injured Perry Riley — looked awesome. Tons of energy, active hands; the dude was pumped to play and it was noticeable. We’ll have to wait for the film to tell the whole story on his game, but Foster appeared like a very positive piece.

— Staying on the topic of defense, DeAngelo Hall did his best impression of a human missile from the safety spot. He was the guy zooming in from screen left and lunging his entire weight into a ball carrier. I didn’t hate it.

— Dez Bryant was contained, finishing the night with just three catches for 62 yards, 42 of which came on one catch. And it wasn’t just Bashaud Breeland. Everyone from Breeland to Will Blackmon, to Quinton Dunbar had a go at him and it was successful.

— Shout out to Houston Bates, who had an awesome TFL on a big third down late in the game. He came off the edge, swooped around and down, and strung up the Cowboys running back by the neck. Good stuff.

— Loved the work from Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker, and Ricky Jean-Francois along the defensive front. Hatcher had an awesome power move on La’el Collins, Baker got his hand on Cassel’s arm during a handoff that resulted in a ball on the ground, and Jean-Francois continues to demonstrate that motor that simply won’t stop.

Dustin Hopkins was money for most of the night, but not all of it. His missed 43-yarder midway through the fourth quarter was big, and his last kickoff in a tied game with under a minute to go was nowhere near as clutch or as good as it needed to be.

— The special teams as a whole — when you take into account the Jackson return, the fumble, Hopkins’ missed field goal in the final quarter, his non-touchback kickoff with under a minute to go in a tie game, the ensuing poor coverage — surely could’ve been better.

— While this loss hurts, it doesn’t mark the end of the road. This NFC East division is awful enough to have every team (all of whom having losing records) in the hunt for a first-round home playoff game and that would include this Redskins squad. But if they want it, they need to at least operate at an average effort across all facets of the team for three consistent weeks. Nothing spectacular, just decent play across offense, defense, and teams for the next few games.

dez and djax

Maryland Names D.J. Durkin Head Football Coach: 7 Takeaways

dj durkin 1

Following the unsuccessful run of Randy Edsall in College Park, Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson knew how important the hiring of his next head football coach would be.

On Wednesday, Maryland named D.J. Durkin the new man in charge of the Terps football program.

Here are seven things.

 

1. Not a Big Name…Yet

From a program standpoint, the hiring of Durkin comes off as a confident one. Despite tons of pressure on Anderson and the program to make a quality hire at the position, it doesn’t appear Maryland chased a big name for the sake of drawing attention. Instead they went for a guy who fits their criteria and seems to possess a lot of potential.

Durkin has made a name for himself working under the likes of Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, both of whom just so happen to be two of the most respected coaches in college football. Maryland clearly coveted that tutelage and likely envision a budding talent in Durkin with a similar style to those veteran coaches.

Certainly Durkin isn’t a name that carries the same buzz factor as a Chip Kelly (wasn’t happening), Dan Mullen (meh), or Mark Richt (wasn’t happening either), but he’s just 37 years old and getting his first real1 shot at leading a program. This is a long-term hire for the Terps rather than a “holy shit, look who Maryland got!” kind of thing.

 

2. More Exciting than Rumored “Big Names”

There’s probably only a small group of us on this side of the table, but Durkin is a more exciting hire than Mullen or Richt. His youthfulness and energy are major selling points and one can’t help but imagine the combination of those traits with his coaching tree prowess to help create a strong program down the road that can play hard football and earn itself respectable bowl bids each season.

You could call this an out-of-the-box hire for Maryland, but it’s not a swing for the fences. Perhaps the coaching carousel blowup (which seemed to happen over the course of 48 hours or so) led Maryland down a different path, but this hire seems like a calculated and confident one. The match between coach and program is a great fit.

 

3. On-Field Philosophy

With an imminent coaching change on the horizon, a popular idea among fans was that of the next coach being offensive-based. Admittedly so, I was drifting into that same camp.

While Durkin is clearly a defensive coach first, playing defense is still very much a requirement in the game of football — especially in the Big Ten conference — so you can still cheer for this “brand” of head coach. But having a head coach with a defensive background doesn’t necessarily dictate the direction of the offense.

We’re familiar with the offenses of Meyer and Harbaugh and you’d assume Durkin would be in favor of a similar style. But it’s likely a matter of who makes up his staff, particularly on that side of the ball, that will help mold the new offense in College Park.

 

4. Speaking of Staff…

Alex Kirshner over at Testudo Times compiled a nice, big list of potential staff candidates for Durkin’s new crew. Be sure to check that out, as it has more than a couple exciting names on it.

 

5. What Happened to that Bill O’Brien Rumor?

How much credibility it had, I don’t know. I’ve heard that Bill O’Brien would’ve been Kevin Plank’s2 first choice, but all that likely fell by the wayside as soon as BOB turned around the Houston Texans and put them in position for a late-season playoff push.

I would’ve enjoyed O’Brien. He would’ve been my first choice too. But all signs point to him staying in Houston and remaining an NFL head coach.

 

6. What Happens to Locksley?

Perhaps the most intriguing question surrounding the Maryland program outside of “who’s the next coach” is “what happens to Locksley?”

Although his coaching record and effectiveness isn’t exactly something to hang a hat on, Mike Locksley is a major recruiter in the area, and more importantly a successful one. He has helped land some of the biggest names to come through the Maryland program and many (including former players) see him as a major asset.

There are sure to be differing opinions amongst Maryland fans when it comes to Locksley’s future in College Park.

On the one hand you’ll have a group that says keeping local talent at home is a critical part of the objective and that Locksley has an undeniable and proven track record in that department.

On the other you’ll have those who argue that Locksley — outside of that recruiting niche — provides little else in terms of coaching or innovation.

And then there’s indecisive folks such as myself.

When a coach receives the endorsement of big names like Vernon Davis, Shawne Merriman, and Stefon Diggs — all guys who could’ve easily chosen more prominent programs but instead decided to stay local, presumably thanks to Locksley — clearly you don’t want to lose a recruiter of that caliber.

But we also have to remember that one of Durkin’s strong suits is his recruiting, and that’s a strong reason why he’s the new head coach. And with an ace recruiter coming in and likely assembling a staff with recruiting prowess of their own, if there were ever a time to part ways with Mike Locksley, the time is now.

The safest option would seem to be retaining Locksley primarily as a recruiter (assuming he’d accept the role) with Durkin hand-picking his own guy to be the Terps next offensive coordinator. In that scenario you have the program turning a new leaf amongst the staff, but keeping local ties tied tight with Locksley on board.

That said, parting ways with Locksley isn’t a death sentence to local recruiting ties. Will it possibly piss a few people off? Probably. But local kids will still be on the radar, they’ll still be signed, and any football alum who banged the table for Locksley to stay will likely get over it with a vibrant program who puts a winning product on the field3.

 

7. It’s Not an Easy Job

There’s plenty of differing opinions to go around as it pertains to the Maryland football program, what it actually is, and what it can become. As a fan I’m probably biased, but here’t goes.

No one’s saying the Maryland job is an easy one, but a challenging position doesn’t necessarily make it unattractive. The region has talent, the program has resources, the Terps are part of a power conference, the Under Armor factor is in play4, and the university is a reputable and well-known academic institution. The program has plenty of pieces to give it solid potential. The key is a coach who can put it all together.

You can talk up and down about Maryland being a basketball school and the area being a major league sports city (owned in large part by the Redskins) and compare any coach who takes the position as walking into hell fire (or some other whack metaphor used by a known local columnist). Gotcha. We hear ya.

But the fact that you have all the ingredients for a successful recipe are nearly undeniable. And as soon as a coach comes through College Park who can put it all into the same pot and present an appetizing product and possibly even sustain it, you’ll start packing Byrd even for games that don’t include Ohio State.

Again, maybe my opinion is further speak of my fandom, but I honestly believe that this Maryland football program can be a successful one. It can contend for quality bowl games each year, it can mine the local talent and turn out pros, it can throw its name in major bowl bid talks every few years, and it can become a respectable team in the Big Ten conference.

And I believe D.J. Durkin is a positive first step in the right direction.

 

Daily Fantasy 2015 Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 13

DFS Bargain Shopper Cover Photo

In the world of daily fantasy sports, finding the best bargains can lead you to the promise land of those jubilant $3.60 pots at the end of the pretend football rainbow.

These are my bargain bin dumpster dives for the upcoming NFL week.

* * *

Quarterback

Ryan Tannehill ($5,300) v. BAL

In a dual between a still-ugly Baltimore secondary and Ryan Tannehill’s 19 FPPG, I’ll side with Tannehill despite a non-as-healthy-as-you’d-like receiving corps. The Ravens probably find a way to compete in this one (because that’s what they do) and Tannehill will need to throw against a defense that’s much better at stopping the ball on the ground than through the air.

Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,200) @ NYG

Did you know Ryan Fitzpatrick only has one fantasy stinker to his name all season? Yup — aside from his three-point turd storm in Week 8 against Oakland, Fitzy has posted at least 15 points in nine of ten outings, including three games in which he posted 21+. The Giants, meanwhile, are up there with the Ravens as having a pretty miserable secondary, so the matchup reads well. Fitzpatrick may have lost the beard, but he didn’t lose his ability to take advantage of bad defenses.

Jay Cutler ($5,100) v. SF

There might be an advantage here assuming many have thrown themselves off the Jay Cutler bandwagon following back-to-back weeks of piss poor performances from the Quarterback Who Cared So Little, but prior to those last two games, Smokin’ Jay Cutler put up at least 18 points in six consecutive outings. His price this week is more than fair against a Niners defense giving up right around 19 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks, and Alshon Jeffery is expected to play.

 

Running Back

T.J. Yeldon ($4,800) @ TEN

This pick will come off as an odd one considering how well the Titans play against opposing rushers (allowing just 15 FPPG), but you have to weigh T.J. Yeldon’s usage rate with the decision. Thanks to his large role in the Jaguars offense, Yeldon hasn’t posted less than 11 points in a game since Week 3. He also happened to play Tennessee just two weeks ago and finished with 54 yards rushing and a few catches for 11.2. While this may not be a play to fall in love with, Yeldon provides a safe floor and the assumption of low ownership (this week, that is).

Giovani Bernard ($4,500) @ CLE

Giovani Bernard seems to make his way onto this list quite a bit. His salary hasn’t peaked above $5,000 all season (which happened only once) and he has the explosiveness to turn in 15-, 20-, and 25-point games. The Browns are allowing more than 22 FPPG to opposing running backs and they’re susceptible to the quicker runners with pop and playmaking ability. His floor hasn’t been the surest of things over the past several weeks, but Bernard remains a nice option in tournaments at this number.

DeAngelo Williams ($5,600) v. IND

Beware of high ownership rates, but DeAngelo Williams is nearly a must-play this week regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Steelers. He’s a key piece to the offensive puzzle, he’s a threat in the passing game, and the Colts have allowed at least 100 yards rushing in eight of their 11 games this season. The only concern regarding Williams and his matchup this week is the fact that he feels a little too sure of a play (and sometimes that sort of thing will mess with you).

Matt Jones ($3,800) v. DAL

More of a homerun tournament stab here, but I look at it like this: if there’s any Washington running back to score a touchdown in this game, Matt Jones is probably receiving best odds. Yes, his fumbilitis this season has earned him a few harsh stares, but the coaches still love him and he remains the most explosive running back on the roster. If Alfred Morris gets a majority of the carries, I wouldn’t expect huge breakaway runs; and once they’re down around the goal line, Jones comes in to mop up. Not to mention, the Redskins love using Jones in the screen game (something they should probably use more often) and the rookie poses a threat to bust off huge gains every time he catches the ball. It’s risky, but there’s definite upside here against a Dallas defense allowing close to 24 FPPG to opposing rushers.

Shaun Draughn ($4,000) @ CHI

Three straight weeks of at least 13 points, a low price tag, a favorable opponent — everything seems to point toward Shaun Draughn being a strong play this week. It’s terrifying. I’d make an argument that anticipated game script doesn’t play into his favor and I’ll quietly fade, but he at least provides good opportunity for next to nothing.

David Johnson ($3,400) @ STL

And providing perhaps even more opportunity for an even lesser price is David Johnson. With no Chris Johnson, and Andre Ellington likely a no-go this weekend, Johnson steps in as a skilled rookie against a vulnerable opponent in a low-lined game in which his own team is favored by a touchdown, not to mention there’s very little behind him on the depth chart. The odds are working in our favor and Johnson’s price tag makes him arguably the least-riskiest play of the weekend.

 

Wide Receiver

Brandon LaFell ($4,800) v. PHI

This will be an interesting game as the Patriots deal with an onslaught of injuries, but it could also mean big things for Brandon LaFell, who should become Tom Brady’s No. 1 target (alongside Danny Amendola) against a disastrous Eagles secondary. The safe bet is to assume lots of Amendola shares, which would work to make a guy like LaFell the wiser play.

DeVante Parker ($3,300) v. BAL

It’s not as much of a swing-for-the-fences anymore. Rishard Matthews is out, the Ravens secondary is awful, and DeVante Parker is a skilled rookie coming off an 18-point performance last week. Jarvis Landry should be good to play, but reports say he’s banged up as well. It’s turn-on time for Parker and your tournament lineups could prosper this Sunday.

T.Y. Hilton ($5,700) @ PIT

His production has been all over the place as of late, but this is the lowest salary and first time T.Y. Hilton has dipped below $6,000 this season. After a nice bounceback game last week against the Bucs (28 points), Hilton will take on a Steelers defense that’s allowed 22 touchdowns through air this season, tied for fourth-worst in the league. Vegas is waiting to hear Big Ben’s status prior to putting a line on the game, but we can expect at least 46 with Pittsburgh the likely favorite, both of which play into Hilton’s favor. Consistency may be lacking, but this price is hard to pass on.

Eric Decker ($6,300) @ NYG

It’s a little pricey for the bargain bin, but Eric Decker has a really solid chance of reaching killer value (we’ll call it 19 points) this week. While teammate Brandon Marshall also deserves a strong look against the Giants, his matchup against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could cause some problems, in which case Ryan Fitzpatrick will look more to his other big, strong receiver. Decker has yet to post a single-digit output all year and he’s scored at least 15 points in six of his ten games this season.

 

Tight End

Travis Kelce ($4,700) @ OAK

With as bad as Oakland is against tight ends, Travis Kelce should have his best game since the 31.6 he posted against the Texans in Week 1, with at least one entertaining end zone dance gracing our television screens this Sunday. That said, it feels weird trusting Alex Smith and the Chiefs…ever, and so we’ll call disappointing-dud-watch here as well.

Scott Chandler ($2,500) v. PHI

With Rob Gronkowski sidelined, Scott Chandler becomes the next large body to line up at tight end for the Patriots. Like most pass-catching athletes, Chandler is a capable producer under the direction of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, so his price is certainly worth the play. And with New England reeling across the board on offense, Chandler should receive plenty of opportunity.

Julius Thomas ($4,000) @ TEN

Remember him? After missing time due to injury to start the season, Julius Thomas was nearly invisible until the last couple games when he posted 13.8 and then 29.6, both performances of which included touchdown catches. Although he is touchdown-dependent, the Jags seem to be getting Thomas more involved as of late and those nearly 14 points a couple weeks ago came against — guess who! — the Titans. Scott Chandler may still be the safer play of the two, but there’s potential to be had here with JT at just $4,000.

 

Defense 

Jets ($2,700) @ NYG

If the Giants offense does anything to continue their rut from last week, the Jets are in prime position to capitalize. They’re averaging just over seven points per game and the Giants have seven turnovers in their last four games.

Redskins ($2,300) v. DAL

Rostering the Redskins defense was probably a laughable scenario just a couple weeks ago, but they also weren’t playing a Cowboys team led by one Matt Cassel on Monday night while defending first place in their division, either. The Redskins defense has recorded five interceptions, seven sacks, and two touchdowns on their way to 29 points in their last three games and another double-digit output is very much in the cards this week.

Maryland Loses to North Carolina: 7 Things and Takeaways

The previews described it as a “heavyweight title bout” between two longtime rivals, and that’s exactly how the evening carried on, as Maryland dropped their first game of the season to No. 9-ranked North Carolina 89-81 in Chapel Hill.

Here are eight thinga-ma-jigs and takeaways.

 

1. Stay Calm

Without taking anything away from North Carolina — who has a team of studs and plenty of fire power to make a deep run — but it’s not hard to argue how/why the Terps could’ve very well left Chapel Hill with a victory on Tuesday.

A few numbers of note…

Maryland shot FIFTY PERCENT from the field.

Maryland shot FORTY-SIX PERCENT from three-point land.

Maryland turned the ball over TWENTY-ONE times.

Despite their seemingly never-ending bullets to the foot, the Terps were never out of the game. They were shooting well enough to forget about their absurd number of turnovers, but were then unfortunately matched with even better shooting by the Tar Heels.

Point being, while this loss sucks and may even appear avoidable when you look back on it, the Terps lost by eight points on the road in front of a raucous crowd to the No. 9-ranked team in the nation while committing 21 turnovers. Things could be a lot worse.

 

2. The Tar Heels are Legit

Perhaps preaching to the choir, but geez.

The Terps were lucky enough to draw Marcus Paige in his first game back following an injury to his non-shooting hand and that didn’t exactly work in Maryland’s favor. UNC is clearly a different team with Paige running the show.

All around, though — so, so skilled. Big men here, strong shooters there, contributors off the bench over here, threatening long-range snipers there. The Heels are stacked and they showed why they were ranked No. 1 heading into the season.

 

3. Marcus Paige and His Return

Again, the Terps could’ve benefited from senior point guard Marcus Paige taking a game or two longer to return to action, but the scene was perfect for him and he, uh, delivered.

And not even his stat line of 20 points, five assists, and two steals does his game justice. Although he hit just three-of-seven two point attempts, it always felt like Paige wasn’t missing, which is suggestive of how daggerish his made field goals were. But his real damage was done from beyond the arc, as Paige nailed four-of-five from long range, all of which felt like they put a tight choke collar on any momentum the Terps may have had at the moment.

We’re all familiar with the kind of player he is, but it’s likely that not even Paige himself expected the sort of performance we saw from him on Tuesday. The shooting prowess, the crowd, the defense, the energy — everything surrounding Paige and his return to the floor worked in the Tar Heels favor.

 

4. Diamond Stone

I’m all about Diamond Stone and this excitement won’t waver, but there were times on Tuesday night when Stone appeared completely lost on defense.

And that’s not criticism meant to retract or get in the way of an intriguing long-term prospectus for the big man. He’s a freshman, he’s only seven games into his collegiate career; I get it. But just because they’re expected struggles doesn’t mean we (as fans) have to feel peachy about it when it’s as glaring as it was on Tuesday night.

 

5. Jake Layman Missing in Action

Aside from his eight rebounds — which he deserves credit for his hustle alone — Jake Layman was a no show for most of the night. He played 28 minutes and shot only five times, three of which were from deep and all three of which he missed.

As mentioned following the Georgetown game, while guys like Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon can be relied on for solid production beyond the arc, the Terps will need the helpful shooting stroke of Layman as well. Four points and three turnovers aren’t going to cut it.

 

6. Robert Carter Jr. and His Deceiving Range

Opposing teams will pick up on it as the season moves on, but for right now, it doesn’t appear defenses realize the shooting range of Robert Carter Jr.

Carter finished just one-of-three from deep on Tuesday, but having a power forward who can drift out beyond the three-point line and legitimately threaten a defense is a dangerous weapon to have, especially when you consider the drive-and-find capabilities of heady guards like Trimble and Sulaimon who can penetrate and find Carter hanging out all alone.

 

7. Melo F–cking Trimble

23 points, 12 dimes, two steals, four-of-five from three.

He went tit-for-tat with Paige all night and hit ENORMOUS shots for Maryland, including a couple of deep threes from an apparent sweet spot nestled a few shades left of center. Sure his eight turnovers were frustrating, but a usage rate of 29 percent (by far the highest of any player on the floor Tuesday night) will lead to that sometimes.

I’m not sure if there’s any possible way to describe the touch Trimble puts on a basketball, but there should be romance novels written about it so that hoops junkies can peruse page after page and giggle and smirk and become even more smitten with how beautiful and elegant it is.

And it’s a versatile touch, too!

Most people talk about a player’s touch down around the basket — which is common to hear when referencing athletic guards or skilled big men — and it’s a skill Trimble clearly possesses, too. He always seems to find a way to sneak the ball past the flailing arms of a much larger defender, or put just the right amount of spin on the ball to make an awkward layup possible with a slight kiss off the glass and in.

And it doesn’t even begin and end there. Trimble’s touch actually comes with range. Floaters in the paint? Touch. Pull-up jumpers? Touch. And those three balls we’ve all become so accustomed to watching rip the net? Perfect mother’lovin touch. A simple flick of the wrist and the sequence of a made bucket is over before you know it. Crazy, crazy stuff.

 

This Maryland team is good. So is North Carolina. They went toe-to-toe all night long (the start of that second half…swocfjncmokdjw!!) and one team had to win it.

On to the next one.

Redskins Have Strong Chance to Improve Road Record Down the Stretch

Nov 2, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden reacts after a play during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Redskins 29-26. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

c/o Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been an obvious and well-documented difference between the Redskins at home and the Redskins on the road this season. Last Sunday’s win over the Giants at FedEx Field marked the fifth consecutive home victory for Washington, earning them the best run of home appearances of any Redskins team since 1991. Not too shabby.

But while the Redskins’ inability to get things done on the road is frustrating, it’s hard to ignore their opponents in each of their five away games so far.

Perhaps a change of scenery and a stiff hotel bed aren’t the only things getting in the way of the Redskins’ potential success on the road.

WEEK OPPONENT SCORE QUARTERBACK
3 Giants 32-21 Eli Manning
5 Falcons 25-19 Matt Ryan
6 Jets 34-20 Ryan Fitzpatrick
9 Patriots 27-10 Tom Brady
11 Panthers 44-16 Cam Newton

Aside from the walking beard Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Redskins have faced some pretty good quarterbacks, including a pair of MVP candidates for this season. Those teams currently stand a combined 38-17, including two teams who’ve made strong cases as the top team in their respective conferences in New England and Carolina. The Redskins also turned the ball over 14 times in those road contests, as opposed to just five times so far at home, much of which can be chalked up to opponent as well thanks to top-ranked defensive units such as the Jets, Pats, and Panthers.

Currently sitting atop the NFC East, the Redskins have just three road games left on the schedule, and their opponents in those away games appear much more favorable than those of weeks past.

WEEK OPPONENT QUARTERBACK
14 Bears Jay Cutler
16 Eagles Mark Sanchez
17 Dallas Matt Cassel

Yeesh. Despite Jay Cutler’s1 resurgence this season, that’s a trio of passers who shouldn’t exactly place fear into the heart of Washington’s defense. Not to mention, those teams have won just over 35 percent of their games collectively, which is a pretty substantial difference from the handful of road opponents earlier in the season who are currently winning close to 70 percent of their games.

It sounds like the cliche atop of Mt. Cliche, but the Redskins do in fact control their own destiny from here out. They have multiple games remaining against division opponents, they have manageable non-division games sprinkled in, and they have the benefit of clicking (or so us fans would like to believe) while their opponents are instead reeling (see: Matt frickin’ Cassel).

The road schedule was a tough one to outrun in the first part of the season, but the Redskins should benefit down the stretch with easier away games en route to a surprising playoff berth.

 

 

…totally just jinxed the hell out of this team.

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