Sunday, December 04, 2005

Redskins - Rams: Game Handicap

The 5-6 Redskins visit the 5-6 Rams in St. Louis. Two struggling teams trying to keep their wild card hopes alive. Redskins fans were thrilled when the Skins took Denver to the limit in week five. Washington lost a close one, 21 - 19, on the very last play. The Redskin faithful were not embarrassed. It was a moral victory.

Well, five "moral victories" later, players, coaches and fans have had enough. Enough of dominating statistically, but not on the scoreboard. Enough of holding the lead for three and a-half quarters only to lose it in the last four minutes. Enough of suffering drive-killing, point stealing, mind-numbing turnovers. Go ahead, lose the numbers game. Play from behind. Forget all that. Just focus on getting the win. "Refuse to lose" as George Allen put it. Get back to east coast football. Smash them in the mouth. Pound them in the dirt. Run it down their throats.

The Rams face some turmoil of their own that I don't understand. Front office conflict seems to affect play on the field. Mike Martz is out. But Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Stephen Jackson are in and they are dangerous. The Rams defense can be had. That doesn't mean the Redskins can have them.

The Skins haven't won a single game on the road this year. They've lost six of their last nine. They are contending with the Rams for a playoff spot and the Rams want that spot as much as the Redskins. The Rams are at home. To win, the Skins best shot is to disrupt the quarterback before he can deliver the ball to those excellent receivers. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not going to run from scrimmage, but Stephen Jackson will! The Rams returned to the running game when Martz took his medical leave and Jackson has been a weapon ever since. The Skins have been burned by running backs. They stifle them most of the game, then BOOM, off to the races. Spy Stephen Jackson.

If this were a fantasy game, I would give a plus to the Redskins at quarterback, a slight edge at running back and tight end. The Skins are undermanned at wide receiver. The Rams have a clear edge at receiver and are the near equal to Washington's running game.

Redskins: go back to your roots. Be a defense first, run-oriented team. Dominate possession and field position. Execute!

Redskins by 5.

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