What: Bills (6-7) at Redskins (6-7).
When: Sunday 1 p.m.
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
Watch: Redskins Kickoff on CSN Mid-Atlantic (12 p.m.); Redskins Postgame Live (4 p.m.).
My five storylines/matchups to monitor:
1-Next step? Last week in Chicago, the Redskins snapped a league-worst nine-game road losing streak and, in the process, avoided setting the franchise record for road futility. This week, they’re aiming to accomplish something else they not have done in a while: win back-to-back games. In fact, they’ve managed to win consecutive games only once since 2012. To earn a spot in the playoffs, though, they’ll likely need to go back-to-back during the final three weeks. So why not start a streak Sunday? “The back-to-back thing is something that we’re obviously going to have to do to get to the division championship,” Coach Jay Gruden said. "I think everybody knows what's at stake, and knows we've had trouble putting back-to-back wins together. Hopefully, they'll be ready and understand that." If the Redskins do manage to beat the Bills, they’ll wrap up their home slate with a record of 6-2. That would equal their third best home mark since 1990 and their best record in Landover since 2005.
2-Home cookin’. Kirk Cousins has been at his best in the comfy confines of FedEx Field. In his last six games there, he has thrown for 1,655 yards 11 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, rushed for three touchdowns and posted a 118.1 passer rating. Cousins should find opportunities against a Bills' pass defense that has allowed 24 passing touchdowns (tied for 21st). Surprising stat of the day: Cousins’ four rushing touchdowns are the third most among quarterbacks behind Cam Newton (7) and Jameis Winston (5). Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is fourth (3).
3-Stopping ‘Shady’. LeSean McCoy has produced 100 or more yards from scrimmage in each of the Bills’ last seven games, including 74 yards on 20 carries and 35 yards on four receptions in last week’s loss to Philadelphia. The Redskins’ run defense has been better in recent weeks, limiting the Giants, Cowboys and Bears to an average of 72 yards. And it will need another game against the elusive McCoy, who has forced 33 missed tackles (tied for eighth most), according to ProFootballFocus.com.
4-Thwarting Tyrod Taylor. Few players pose the challenge that Taylor does. He’s completing 63.5 percent of his passes, while also tossing 18 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. The first-year starter is also one of five quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or better (Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton and Tom Brady are the others.) Taylor, meantime, has been just as dangerous using his legs. He’s third in rushing yards (371) among signal callers behind Cam Newton (480) and Wilson (456). “When coverage is great and things break down around him ,” Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said of Taylor, “he can stick his foot in the ground and run. We’ve got to be conscious [of Taylor] because they’ve got weapons all over the place but especially the guy that handles the ball on every play.” Gruden added: “He’s a much better passer than I think people have given him credit for. But he’s also very good with his legs; he can run the ball extremely well out of the pocket and throw on the run.”
5-More injury concerns. DeSean Jackson (bruised knee) and Jason Hatcher (neck, knee) should be good to go Sunday. Jeron Johnson (hamstring) is iffy, at best. Gruden also said he’s concerned about third down running back Chris Thompson, who has a torn labrum in his shoulder and missed last week’s game because of it. If Thompson is out again, could that mean more Pierre Thomas? Perhaps. Thomas caught one pass for 12 yards and played four snaps in his debut but is getting more comfortable. “He has a great understanding of the offense already, a lot more now than I would have anticipated,” Gruden said of Thomas. Meantime, new tight end Alex Smith figures to make his debut against the Bills. The 11th-year veteran will replace Derek Carrier, who was lost last week to a knee injury. Gruden announce the status of all the injured players later Friday.