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Week 17 Redskins at Giants: Washington looks to close season on strong note

Week 17 Redskins at Giants: Washington looks to close season on strong note

It's been a disappointing season for the Redskins. That cannot be sugarcoated. That said, finishing 2017 with a third straight win, over a division rival, to reach 8-8 is the best possible finale.

RELATED: NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE IN WEEK 17

The Redskins will face a terrible 2-13 Giants team Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) with little on the line but pride. That doesn't mean Jay Gruden's team shouldn't win. Here's how they do it:

  1. Under pressure - In their last two games the Redskins defensive front has been a force. Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Anthony Lanier are playing some of their best football, with additional push coming from Junior Galette. Washington has nine sacks in their last two games, wins over Arizona and Denver, and pressure on the opposing quarterbacks has easily been the most prominent feature for the Redskins on the two-game win streak. Sacks and QB hits lead to turnovers, and that should be the goal against Eli Manning and a bad Giants offensive line on Sunday. 
  2. So long? - It's well documented that this could be Kirk Cousins final game as a Washington Redskin. Yes, the QB and the organization have done this dance the past two seasons, with the passer coming back on one-year, franchise tag contracts. The coming offseason feels different, however, as the franchise tag option has grown to an outrageous cost. What will happen next? Nobody knows, truthfully. It's undeniable that Cousins will want to put forward a strong performance, as he tries every week. 
  3. Not very hot seat - When the Redskins returned from Los Angeles in early December after a thrashing at the hands of the Chargers, there was some speculation Jay Gruden could lose his job. At that point, Washington was 5-8, eliminated from playoff contention and coming off back to back blowout losses. The season seemed like it could capsize, and the weight of the losses might sink Gruden. In the two games since, Gruden's team has played just well enough to beat Arizona and then put out a dominant second half effort to roll past Denver. Reports now say Gruden's job is safe, if it ever was in danger to begin with, and most expect the coach to be back in 2018. A win Sunday, and another non-losing season, would likely cement that. A loss to the 2-13 Giants, however, would be a bad way to enter the offseason. 

Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked if Kirk Cousins owes his head coach anything,

He doesn't owe me anything. 

News & Notes:

  • After missing practice on Thursday, Ryan Kerrigan is expected to start on Sunday. That will mark his 112th straight start for Kerrigan, who has never missed a game in his NFL career
  • If Preston Smith logs a sack on Sunday, it will mark a new career high. The third-year pro has eight sacks this season, the same number he logged in 2015 as a rookie. With 2018 being a contract year for Smith, a double digit sack total would be a good line on his 2017 resume. 
  • With the start Sunday, Kirk Cousins becomes the first Redskins quarterback to start 16 games in three consecutive seasons since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
  • With a win over the Giants, Jay Gruden will become the first Redskins coach to finish three consecutive seasons with a winning percentage of .500 or better since Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs across a four-year span from 1989-92.
  • Among the many Redskins players that won't play Sunday, notables include Zach Brown and Trent Williams, who underwent knee surgery on Friday. 

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

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USA Today Sports Images

The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

Since the 2017 regular ended we’ve known who the Redskins will play this coming season and we have known where the games will be played. Tonight we find out the when. 

The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8 p.m. The NFL will fill in the blanks beside all of the prime time games, the Thanksgiving Day games and the Sunday doubleheader and night games. 

Last year, the Redskins were coming off of an 8-7-1 season where they just missed making a second straight playoff appearance. Kirk Cousins was becoming one of the more recognizable names in the NFL and the schedule makers thought they would be enough of a draw to warrant five prime time slots. They were scheduled for a Sunday night, two Monday nights, and two Thursday nights, including a first-ever home game on Thanksgiving. 

The Redskins may not be as attractive a prime time candidate this year. They went 7-9 and Cousins is gone, although replacement Alex Smith is fairly well-known. It’s nearly a given that two NFC East games will be on prime time. That has been the case every year but one since 2012. We will see what will happen beyond that. 

The prime-time games that the Redskins do have will start a bit earlier than they have in the past. The league announced yesterday that Monday night games will move up from 8:30 p.m. ET to 8:15 p.m. ET and Thursdays will move from an 8:25 p.m. start to 8:20 p.m. Sunday night games move up from 8:30 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

There has been speculation that the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, perhaps at Dallas or against another opponent in the night game. That would make three years in a row on Thanksgiving for them. That is not without precedent although it would be unusual. Besides the Lions and Cowboys, who host Thanksgiving games annually, only two teams played in three straight Thanksgiving games. The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between they played at Dallas on Thanksgiving. 

The availability of FedEx Field should not cause any schedule alterations. There are some events scheduled for the venue but concerts by Taylor Swift and Beyonce & Jay-Z, an international soccer game, and the Maryland-Texas college game are all going to be done before the start of the NFL season. 

Here are the Redskins regular season opponents. 

Road

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Cardinals
  • Saints
  • Jaguars
  • Titans
  • Bucs

Home

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Packers
  • Panthers
  • Colts
  • Falcons
  • Texans

The preseason opponents were announced earlier this month.

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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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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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