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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Lions—Detroit less pass happy than usual

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Lions—Detroit less pass happy than usual

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 19, four days before the Washington Redskins travel to Detroit to play the Lions.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:30; Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 3:30 p.m.

Days until: Redskins @ Lions 4; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 11; Vikings @ Redskins 25; Redskins @ Cowboys on Thanksgiving 37

First thoughts on Redskins vs. Lions

—It’s probably good for the Redskins that the Lions were able to beat the Eagles and Rams in the first two games. They’re human and it would have been hard for them to get too excited for a 1-5 or 2-4 Lions team. But as it is they are playing a team that is just a game behind them, and they should remember that the Lions made the playoffs just two years ago.

—Are the Lions a passing team? They have that reputation, having finished in the top five in passing attempts in four of the last five seasons. But this year Matthew Stafford has attempted 212 passes, 15th in the NFL. They are, however, not really a running team; they're 21st n rushing attempts. The offense just isn't getting many snaps.

—A look at the defense tells you why. They can't get off the field. Remember when the Redskins were last in the NFL in defensive third down conversions? Washington has improved somewhat over the last couple of weeks and now it’s Detroit bringing up the rear at 49 percent. The Redskins also could find the territory near the goal line to be friendlier than it has been so far this year; Detroit’s defense is also last red zone defense.

—Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know—Lions QB Matthew Stafford, the top pick in the draft in 2009, is only about six months older than Kirk Cousins. Sunday will mark Stafford’s 100th career start. Although he “owns” a losing record at 45-54 the Lion’s record can’t be blamed predominantly on Stafford. That is due to problems that date back to long before Stafford was born. I’ve always liked him as a player although he perhaps has been a little more of a gunslinger that I’d prefer in my ideal QB. The Lions haven’t lost in any of his three career starts against the Redskins.

—The Lions are dealing with some injuries at running back. They picked up Justin Forsett after the Ravens let him go but last week their feature back was Zach Zenner, who came to Detroit as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Against the Rams last week he had 14 carries for 58 yards. Ameer Abdullah was supposed to be their lead dog at running back but he is on injured reserve with a foot injury. Theo Riddick is their leading rusher this year but he sat out the Rams game with a hip injury and his status is up in the air.

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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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/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on NFL.com, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

More Redskins

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.