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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs Seahawks

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs Seahawks

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 4, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff, 3:00, NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Seahawks, 4 p.m., Fox

Days until:

—Redskins @ Saints (11/9) 14
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 18
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 25

Key injury update
Out:
DE Ioannidis (hand) G Lauvao (stinger), TE Paul (concussion), TE Reed (hamstring), WR Crowder (hamstring)
Doubtful: T Williams (knee), T Nsekhe (core muscoe), C Long (knees)
Questionable: G Scherff (knee), RB Kelley (ankle), CB Breeland (knee, groin), Friday injury report here. The addition of DeAngelo Hall to the roster is good news for the O-line, here’s how.

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Seahawks

A tough test for the fill-ins: Assuming Trent Williams doesn’t play, the left side of the offensive line will be T.J. Clemmings at tackle and Tyler Catalina (or possibly Arie Kouandjio) at guard. They will match up against Frank Clark (4.5 sacks) and Sheldon Richardson, respectively. If they can hold up and keep Kirk Cousins upright, the Redskins might have a fighting chance. If not, it could be a long day.

Seahawks’ second-best player is out: Russell Wilson is the Seahawks’ MVP but safety Earl Thomas is the straw that stirs the drink on defense. The three-time All-Pro has two interceptions this year including a 78-yard pick six last week. He will be out with a hamstring injury, a tough loss for the Seattle defense. His absence could help Vernon Davis get some room over the middle. It would be a good situation for Jordan Reed to exploit but he also is out with a hamstring.

Better than the sum of its numbers: The Seahawks defense ranks in the bottom half of the league in many major statistical categories and outside the top ten in nearly all of them. But they are seventh in points allowed, indicating a bend-but-don’t-break unit that gets the job done. Here’s a statistical oddity for you. Seattle is third in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns from inside the 20 just 35 percent of the time. But when the opposition gets in goal to go situations, they are dead last, allowing touchdowns 100 percent of the time. The latter is a small sample size—opponents have had first and goal just four times against them—but the lesson is, don’t get tackled between the 10 and 20, get into that first and goal situation.

Wilson’s possible Achilles heel: Wilson has a way of frustrating opposing defenses. Every week defensive coordinators work late trying to figure out how to stop him and nearly every week they fail. But he does tend to put the ball on the ground; he has five fumbles so far this year. If the Redskins can turn one of those into a game-changing big play, they might have a chance to pull off the upset. Wilson also has thrown four interceptions in his last four games, so if they can get a pick or two, that obviously would help their cause as well.

Cousins’ comfort level: With Jordan Reed already declared out and Jamison Crowder getting downgraded to out on Saturday, two of Kirk Cousins’ favorite targets will be out of the game. Sure, he can go to Chris Thompson but it will be hard to move the ball without going to Terrelle Pryor and/or Josh Doctson on a regular basis.

Prediction: Go ahead and get your Captain Obvious comments ready. This is going to be a very difficult road for the Redskins. Just looking at the factors listed here, the Redskins will need at least two or more of the left side holding up against top-shelf linemen, being able to exploit a hole at safety without your best tight end, avoiding red zone woes, and getting Wilson to be a turnover machine will have to happen for the visitors to have a decent shot. That is drawing to the proverbial inside straight. I think the Redskins hang around for a while but Seattle will build and hold a working margin.

Seahawks 28, Redskins 24

Season predictions record: 3-4

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

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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