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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 13, the day the Washington Redskins play the Bears in Chicago.

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

CHICAGO—Final thoughts as the Redskins get set to play yet another most important game of the season.

—The weather forecast has changed from steady rain to some rain before kickoff but a dry window for the game from about 11 a.m. local time until about 3:00. It might be a bit windy but not by Chicago standards. The Redskins may or may not win but it doesn’t look like weather will be a factor.

—One reason why the Redskins didn’t allow either the Giants or the Cowboys over 100 yards rushing (33 yds. to Giants, 97 to Cowboys) is that they tackled well. In their first 10 games they averaged 9.8 missed tackles per game. Against New York and Dallas they missed six tackles combined in the two games (5 vs. NYG, 1 vs. DAL). If they can keep that up their chances of getting their first win will be greatly improved.

—I think it’s asking a lot to expect Pierre Thomas to contribute much on Sunday after signing with the Redskins on Friday. One light practice, one walkthrough, and about 48 hours to learn the terminology is just not enough to be able to do much, especially after having played just four snaps of football (for the 49ers in Week 9) all year. We could see him active since Chris Thompson will be out with the labrum injury and maybe he’ll get a few carries. But the primary running backs will be Matt Jones and Alfred Morris.

—Even when the Redskins weren’t running the ball well through the first nine games of the season they were doing well on third down, converting at a 45 percent clip. Over the last three games, however, they have been converting at 30 percent. They obviously need to revert to the efficiency they achieved during the earlier part of the season if they are going to win down the stretch.

—It’s difficult to “read” a locker room sometimes. It seemed to me and to some others that the Redskins’ hangover from their tough, late loss on Monday night lingered a little late into the week. They seemed to be a little bit distracted as they tried to hone in on the Bears. But sometimes that hangover from a loss transforms into an underdog, us against the world, against all odds type of mentality. So I’m not going to be in the business of projecting the team’s mindset today. The Redskins should be able to move the ball against the Bears bad rushing defense and so-so pass defense. If the defense plays as well as it has in the last two weeks the Redskins have a pretty good shot at avoiding what would be a 10th straight road loss, the worst such streak in team history.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins @ Bears 1 p.m. FOX

Days until: Bills @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Eagles 13; Redskins @Cowboys 21

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

The Week 12 fantasy football rankings are out -- but when it comes to Thanksgiving Day, everyone wants some player regardless of where they slot overall. Don't overthink it and take a lesser player, but for those on the fence or simply looking for Thursday action, here are some recommendations for all three games.

Vikings @ Lions

Obvious: Vikings -- Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs... running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon are in the RB2/Flex discussion for most, but good luck picking between them; Lions -- Wide receiver Golden Tate and ... wide receiver Marvin Jones works in three-WR formats while quarterback Matthew Stafford is No. 14 among passers this week.

Start: Case Keenum averaged 19.3 points over the last four games while the Lions have allowed ample points to fantasy quarterbacks in that stretch, though only three touchdown passes. Having Thielen and Diggs up the potential for Keenum, who is QB17 in the Week 12 rankings. That's comparable with Matthew Stafford (QB14), Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett and ahead of Derek Carr.

Add: Not sure there's any fringe skill player worth taking a flyer on so take a look at Vikings kicker Kai Forbath. He's attempted at least three field goals in four of his last five games and he kicked five extra points in the lone exception. ... Some will start Ameer Abdullah based on their options, but just know the Vikings allow the second fewest points to fantasy tight ends this season.

Chargers @ Cowboys

Obvious: Chargers -- running back Melvin Gordon and wide receiver Keenan Allen; Cowboys -- Wide receiver Dez Bryant, running back Alfred Morris and... quarterback Dak Prescott, though his production is down without running back Ezekiel Elliott and left tackle Tyron Smith.

Start: This hasn't been a vintage Philip Rivers season, but he's coming off his best performance (251 yards, two touchdown passes) since Week 5. The Cowboys aren't that special in the secondary and have surrendered two touchdown passes in three consecutive games. At QB13, he's on the cusp of QB1 status in 12-team leagues. 

Add: Kickers Nick Novak (Chargers) and Mike Nugent (Cowboys) are 15th and 16th respectively. So, there's that. 

Giants @ Redskins

The obvious: Giants -- tight end Evan Engram and... running back Orleans Darkwa is a viable RB2 option against a Redskins defense giving up gobs of yards on the ground; Redskins -- quarterback Kirk Cousins, tight Vernon Davis and...running back Samaje Perine is RB12 this week, though listed as questionable on the injury report with a finger issue.

Start: Jordan Reed is out for a fourth consecutive game, meaning Vernon Davis once again is Washington's main tight end. While he hasn't provided wow performances like Reed at his Pro Bowl best, Davis has been good for a solid 8-11 since taking on a larger role starting in Week 3. This could be his best statistical week of the season. The Giants allow the most points to fantasy tight ends on the season. Opposing tight ends scored a touchdown in each of the first 10 games before the streak snapped Sunday.

RELATED: NEW AND IMPROVED WEEK 12 FANTASY RANKINGS

Add: Josh Doctson is only owned in 55 percent of leagues on CBS even though he's moved into the role of Washington's top outside receiver. The second-year player had four receptions for 81 yards in Sunday's overtime loss, though all the production came in the first half. Consistency is the next step, but Kirk Cousins is showing more and more confidence in the 6'3" target especially on 50-50 balls. Doctson is WR36 in my Week 12 rankings, meaning he's worth starting consideration in three-WR formats regardless.