Redskins

NFL Capsule: Lions at Cardinals

NFL Capsule: Lions at Cardinals

DETROIT (4-9) At ARIZONA (4-9)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., FOX

OPENING LINE - Lions by 6 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Detroit 5-8; Arizona 5-8

SERIES RECORD - Lions lead 31-24-5

AP PRO32 RANKING - Lions No. 24; Cardinals No. 29

LAST MEETING - Cardinals beat Lions 31-24, Dec. 20, 2009

LAST WEEK - Lions lost to Packers 27-20, Cardinals lost to Seahawks 58-0

LIONS OFFENSE - OVERALL (2), RUSH (21), PASS (1)

LIONS DEFENSE - OVERALL (13), RUSH (20), PASS (13)

CARDINALS OFFENSE - OVERALL (32), RUSH (32), PASS (28)

CARDINALS DEFENSE - OVERALL (12), RUSH (30), PASS (5)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES: Lions WR Calvin Johnson needs 303 yards receiving to break Jerry Rice's NFL single-season record (1,848) and is 140 yards shy of Herman Moore's franchise record (1,686). ... Lions and New England only NFL teams averaging more than 400 yards per game. ... Detroit has blown double-digit lead three straight games, matching NFL record. ... Series dates to 1930, when it was Portsmouth Spartans against Chicago Cardinals. ... Lions dominated series 13-0-3 from 1934 to 1941. ... Cardinals 8-3 against Detroit since moving to Arizona. ... Kurt Warner threw for 233 yards and two TDs and Beanie Wells rushed for 110 yards and TD in victory that clinched NFC West title for Arizona three years ago. ... If Cardinals lose, it will tie franchise record for consecutive losses (10) in season. Team went 0-10 in 1944, when it was merged with Pittsburgh Steelers because of player shortage during World War II. ... With his one catch for 2 yards at Seattle, WR Larry Fitzgerald has receptions in 130 consecutive games. It's the second-longest active streak in NFL behind Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez (190). ... Cardinals have eight TDs in nine-game losing streak and none in last two games.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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The Redskins aren't big on analytics but the numbers are likely to influence their top draft pick

The Redskins aren't big on analytics but the numbers are likely to influence their top draft pick

There are always surprises in the NFL draft, but the 2018 edition may be the most unpredictable in years. There are a few factors at play here and they will affect who is available to the Redskins in the first round and who they end up drafting there. 

One factor is analytics. Not all teams have a big analytics department but all 32 are aware of the trends in the game. One is that teams no longer emphasize establishing the run early in games. Teams pass in the first quarter on about 57 percent of the snaps. That run-pass ratio is about the same as it is during the other three quarters. It’s still a passing league from the opening kickoff until the clock hits 0:00. 

So why, then, is Vita Vea, a pure nose tackle who likely will be of limited help against the pass, a possible top-10 pick who the Redskins reportedly would like to take at 13? 

The way it looks now, Vea is going to be one of the best available players with a significant drop off to any players associated with the passing game except quarterbacks—wide receiver, left tackle, edge rusher, and outside cornerback. 

The Redskins might rate Vea as more valuable than other teams because of how weak their rushing defense is. Teams ran at them on 47 percent of first-quarter plays, taking advantage of the weakness. This kept up through all four quarters; teams ran against the Redskins on 46 percent of the plays compared to 42 percent of all plays league-wide. Washington’s vulnerability against the rush may push Vea and probably Da’Ron Payne up on their draft boards even if they are of limited utility in the nickel defense. 

Here is one more example of the numbers and talent affecting this draft. Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick played a variety of positions in Alabama’s secondary. The consensus opinion is that his best NFL fit is slot corner. Traditionally, that is not a first-round position because it’s has been a role, a part-time position. 

But the view is shifting. Offenses take 62.6 percent of their snaps with three or more wide receivers on the field. That number only counts true wide receivers, so you can add a percentage point or two in for when a running back or tight end lines up out wide. As you would expect, a comparable number of defensive snaps (65.3%) are with five or more defensive backs on the field. The Redskins were in line with this. Slot corner Kendall Fuller played nearly 66 percent of the snaps last year. 

Since you will utilize your slot corner on nearly two-thirds of your plays, if you can get a good one with the 13th pick you shouldn’t hesitate just because of the old view of the position. When you add in the fact that Fitzpatrick can play safety and outside corner as well the Redskins could well pull the trigger if he’s still there. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

As the Capitals and Penguins prepare to open their second-round series, significant injury news came out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Head coach Mike Sullivan informed the media that both Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin would not play in Game 1 due to injuries.

The fact that Hagelin would not be traveling with the team suggests that he will miss Game 2 as well, but that has not been confirmed. That also means that Malkin is at least a possibility for Game 2.

Malkin did not play in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers after getting injured in a collision with Jakub Voracek in Game 5. Hagelin was injured in Game 6 on a big hit from Claude Giroux.

So when the series against Washington begins, Pittsburgh will be playing without two-thirds of its second line.

Malkin made a real push for the Hart Trophy this season with 42 goals and 98 points. He was a major factor in last season's Cup run with 28 points in 26 games and was gearing up for another big postseason with five points in his first five games.

But don't celebrate too much, Caps fans. It is not as if either loss will be crippling to Pittsburgh's offense.

Despite not having Malkin for the entire Game 6 and losing Hagelin midway through the second period, the Penguins still managed to put up eight goals on the Flyers in the series-clinching win.

Still, with scoring depth being such a strength for Pittsburgh, the Capitals need to take advantage. The Penguins will be without one of the best players in the NHL and that makes Game 1 crucial. Washington has gone down 0-2 in each of their past two playoff series including last year against Pittsburgh. They lost that series in seven games. They need to have a better start this year and with no Malkin or Hagelin for Game 1, this may be a must-win for the Caps.

Riley Sheahan and Dominik Simon skated with Phil Kessel on the second line at practice on Wednesday and it is a good bet that is how the second line will remain for Game 1. That way, Pittsburgh can keep its third line of Conor Sheary, Derick Brassard and Bryan Rust line together which has been very effective.

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